Sebastian at Snowflakes In Hell had a post yesterday in which he disagreed with my opposition to a bill in the North Carolina State Senate, S. 594, which would have amended North Carolina’s emergency powers.
The bill introduced by Senators Doug Berger (D-Franklin) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie) would have allowed the possession of firearms during a declared state of emergency. As I said then and I will say again on the face of it this is a good thing EXCEPT that it would have mooted the Second Amendment Foundation/Grass Roots North Carolina’s case Bateman et al v. Perdue et al. I hold that getting a good legal precedent in a court battle can often times trump getting a bill passed in a legislature for long lasting impact.
Sebastian holds that “if you’re presented with the shot, take it” or in other words, go with the certainty of the legislative victory as opposed to the uncertainty of the courts. This presupposes that it was a lock that the North Carolina General Assembly would pass an act amending Chapter 36A of the General Statutes. The major gun rights bills this session included the Castle Doctrine (passed), firearms in parks (passed), concealed carry in restaurants that serve alcohol (passed in the House), an omnibus bill that would improve concealed carry (passed with amendments in the House), and the emergency powers act changes (stalled in committee). Of all of these bills, I would have to say that the Castle Doctrine was the most important and it was passed.
I did not see any major public movement on S. 594 by either the NRA or Grass Roots North Carolina until the end of the session. It is my feeling that GRNC would have pushed for passage of S. 594 without the wise counsel of their attorney and the Second Amendment Foundation. By not pushing for it – and actually opposing it at the end of the session – that organization showed its growing maturity as a gun rights organization. By this I mean they were willing to play the long war and sacrifice the temporary gains of a bill for the longer term impact of an opinion.
Anthony Roulette, NRA-ILA State Liaison for North Carolina, commented on Sebastian’s blog that I was mistaken about the NRA’s rationale for pushing S. 594 at the end of the session. I will do him the courtesy of reprinting his comments here.
I appreciate that you have a right to your personal opinions regarding the NRA efforts on Senate Bill 594, but you are incorrect. The NRA has been pushing for a legislative fix to the problem of gun rights and a declared State of Emergency for many years. The NRA has been pushing for legislation in Congress and the states to prohibit gun confiscation during states of emergency almost immediately after Hurricane Katrina, and has succeeded in enactment of such statutes at the federal level and in 31 states.
In 2009, the NRA supported North Carolina House Bill 257 that sought to correct this problem:
If you have been following NRA-ILA alerts this year, you will note that NRA has been “publicly pushing it from the start.” Here is our alert from April 15:
It was mentioned again on April 22: http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?id=6670
Unfortunately, it was not until last week that the NRA was informed by Senate Republican leadership that S 594 would not be brought up for consideration. That is the reason for our recent push, and it has nothing to do with your speculated reason.
North Carolina State Liaison
House Bill 257 from the 2009 session referred to above was supported by Grass Roots North Carolina as they made clear in their Alert from February 27, 2009. Why the change from then to now? McDonald v. Chicago. That win brought the Second Amendment to the states through incorporation and with it a whole new valid way to advance gun rights.
My training in political science reflects two divergent schools of thought. As an undergraduate, I was trained in the classical or legalistic approach to government with heavy emphasis on constitutional law and the structure of governmental institutions. As a graduate student at Chapel Hill, I was trained in the behavioral approach to political science which is the polar opposite of the classical approach. It is heavy on quantitative measurement and studying the actual behavior of political actors. In other words, what they do as opposed to what they say.
If one takes Mr. Roulette at his word that it was not their intention to moot Bateman, the impact of S. 594 passing would still have the same impact. Bateman would be mooted because the underlying case or controversy no longer existed regardless of whether or not this was the NRA-ILA’s intention. Thus, from a behavioral standpoint, their actions, if successful, would have mooted Bateman and screwed one of their critics, attorney Alan Gura, for good measure.
And they would have been able to say they got the Emergency Powers ban done away with. From a bureaucratic standpoint how much better could that have been – they get the glory, their critics are diminished, and a threat to their power is removed.