Three Of My Favorite Groups Unite To Take On Wake Sheriff

Wake County (NC) Sheriff Gerald Baker should be feeling a bit uneasy right about now. That’s because three of my favorite groups – Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition – have come together to file suit against Baker’s refusal to even take applications for the Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit.

For those that don’t know, in North Carolina, you need a pistol purchase permit to purchase a handgun regardless of whether it is from a dealer or a private individual unless you possess a NC Concealed Handgun Permit. As I’ve written about it many a time, the law was passed in 1919 in an unspoken but well understood effort to keep African-Americans, Populists, and union backers disarmed.

The suit has been filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The individual plaintiff is Kerry Stafford who decided a handgun was the proper firearm with which to defend herself and her family. After calling the Wake County sheriff’s department for an PPP application, she was refused.

The complaint alleges that Sheriff Baker has exceeded his discretion and has violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments depriving Ms. Stafford and others of their constitutional rights under color of law. It asks that either an injunction be issued or that the requirement for a pistol purchase permit be waived until April 30th.

It is great to see these groups working together. For GRNC and SAF, it is a reprise of the joint efforts that led to the win in Bateman v. Perdue.

They issued a joint release which I have copied below:

GRNC, SAF, FPC File Federal Lawsuit Against Wake County, NC Sheriff Over Constitutional Violations

RALEIGH, NC (March 27, 2020) ­— Today, attorneys for an individual Wake County, North Carolina resident, Grass Roots North Carolina, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and Firearms Policy Coalition filed a federal lawsuit challenging Wake County Sheriff Gerald M. Baker’s recent actions infringing on Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights he announced as a response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:

https://www.grnc.org/documents/Complaint-Wake-County-Filed.pdf

This latest case tracks a 2011 federal court victory in Bateman v. Perdue, also led by plaintiffs Second Amendment Foundation and Grass Roots North Carolina, which successfully challenged North Carolina statutes restricting firearms during states of emergency.

“Although Sheriff Gerald Baker claims his refusal to accept applications for pistol purchase permits and concealed handgun permits doesn’t infringe on individual rights, nothing could be further from the truth,” said GRNC president Paul Valone. “During this emergency, as always, GRNC intends to ensure that lawful North Carolinians have the means to protect themselves and their families.”

“Sheriff Baker is implementing by fiat what the Supreme Court struck down in Heller – a ban on a citizen’s right to purchase a handgun for the defense of hearth and home. This action cannot be allowed to stand,” said GRNC Director of Legal Affairs Ed Green.

“Times of emergency is when you need the ability to obtain the means of self-defense the most. Suspending that right is not acceptable. That is why this lawsuit is so important,” commented SAF founder and Executive Vice President, Alan Gottlieb.

“Sheriff Baker’s unconstitutional actions have and will deprive law-abiding, peaceable individuals the opportunity to obtain handguns, the ‘quintessential self-defense weapon’ according to the U.S. Supreme Court, in a time where the arms are most needed,” explained attorney and FPC Director of Legal Strategy, Adam Kraut. “Sheriff Baker’s actions to stop processing and issuing required  Pistol Purchase Permits violate fundamental human rights. We are proud to join GRNC and SAF in this fight to defend the rights of North Carolinians.”

Individual arms applicants/purchasers and retailers affected by ‘stay-home’ or shutdown orders can report potential civil rights violations to FPC’s COVID-19 Issue Hotline at www.FPChotline.org

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Ed Green, Raymond M. DiGuiseppe, and Adam Kraut.

Grass Roots North Carolina (www.grnc.org) is North Carolina’s most effective gun rights organization. GRNC was founded in 1994 as an independent, all-volunteer 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving constitutional freedoms. The organization’s projects are primarily devoted to defending the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing, and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom.

Quote Of The Day

“Guns don’t have much legitimate purpose in cities outside of the hands of trained law enforcement,” Cook said. “I think many cities would want to reinstitute a blanket ban or licensing requirements on carrying in public.”

Philip Cook is the ITT/Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Studies at Duke University. He is a well-known researcher in “gun violence” (sic) with a significant anti-gun bias. The quote above comes from Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, in which Cook was interviewed about past and proposed firearms-related legislation in the North Carolina General Assembly.

He advocated much tighter restrictions on concealed carry as well as doing away with state preemption so that cities like Durham where Duke is located could enact their own gun controls. As to enacting a ban on carrying in public, at least for open carrying, it would be an unconstitutional act. The North Carolina Supreme Court decided that in 1922 in the case of State v. Keener where the court ruled that open carrying was a constitutional right.

Another gem in this article deals with a total mischaracterization of why North Carolina has the pistol purchase permit wherein one must apply for a permit from their local sheriff to buy a handgun.

“That is relatively unusual, especially among Southern states,” said Cook, who researches gun control and crime prevention…


“The wisdom of the time [in 1919] was that rifles and shotguns are used for hunting and target shooting and other sports uses. Handguns are used against people,” Cook said. “And I think that remains true today.”

No, the wisdom of the time had nothing to do with handguns being used against people. The wisdom of the time was that blacks, union organizers, populists, and even Republicans had to be kept relatively disarmed. This was so that these people could not present a challenge to segregationist Democrats and their Klan allies. I have researched it extensively and have had many posts over the years on this subject. You can find some of them here, here, and here. I would note again that the co-sponsor of the 1919 bill was State Sen. Earle A. Humphrey (D-Goldsboro) who was the brother-in-law of ardent segregationist and Democrat party boss Furnifold Simmons.

Let’s Call It What It Really Is – Institutionalized Racism

I just received an email from the Brady Campaign railing about North Carolina HB 588 and how it rolls back “four decades” of “lifesaving background checks”. I’ll let you read it first and then I will comment on it.

The corporate gun industry is bringing its fight to weaken lifesaving background checks to North Carolina! Right now, they’re pushing H.B. 588, a dangerous bill that would dramatically undermine the current background check system, through the state legislature.

This bill would roll back at least four decades of a lifesaving policy requiring a background check and a “permit to purchase” for every handgun sale. If this bill passes, dangerous people will easily be able to acquire handguns at gun shows, online or from private individuals without any background check whatsoever.

These permits are proven to lower suicide rates. And when Missouri eliminated a similar law in 2007, the state saw a 25 percent increase in the gun murder rate!

H.B. 588 would also require universities, community colleges, and some houses of worship to allow hidden loaded handguns on campus — even against their wishes.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to consider H.B. 588 at any time. It’s critical that we STOP this bill before it goes any further — and before it has the chance to put North Carolina lives at risk.

Call committee members today and urge them to oppose H.B. 588 and stand up for lifesaving gun laws!

Thank you,

Kris Brown
Chief Strategy Officer

First let’s be clear – HB 588 does not eliminate the pistol purchase permit as much as I’d like to see it do that. It merely changes how the mental health reporting requirement is implemented. Nothing more and nothing less in that section of the bill.

What the Brady Campaign calls “four decades of a lifesaving policy requiring a background check and a ‘permit to purchase’ for every handgun sales” is actually 98 years of institutionalized racism. They won’t say it but it is what it is.

The pistol purchase permit system was adopted by the General Assembly in 1919 for the implied purpose of denying blacks – and especially those who were veterans that had just come back from France in World War I – the ability to have a handgun for self-defense. There had been significant racial unrest in various North Carolina cities post-war with a major riot in Winston-Salem in late 1918. The “Act to Regulate the Sale of Concealed Weapons in North Carolina” was adopted soon after in March 1919. The primary sponsor of the bill was State Sen. Earle A. Humphrey (D-Goldsboro). Sen. Humphrey’s brother-in-law, US Sen. Furnifold Simmons, was the architect of the NC Democrat’s segregationist political agenda. I think you can connect the dots here.

As to the claim about the increase in murders in Missouri, it all has to do with how you cherry pick your data. Dr. John Lott exposed it here and here.

The bill would allow a person with a valid carry permit to carry on school property that is also used for worship services AFTER school hours. My thinking is that was included as many church communities have instituted security teams consisting of trained congregation members.

And yes, HB 588 would allow campus carry at both community colleges and public universities in North Carolina. And, yes, it is against the wishes of university administrators because, let’s face it, they are anti anything that takes power out of their hands including a monopoly on the power of violence. That said, I also don’t know of any public university campus in North Carolina that is fenced and has controlled entry. While they all have their police forces they also are all open to criminals and potential terrorists.

HB 588 does clarify that merely possessing or carrying a firearm, openly or legally concealed, is not grounds for charging a person with going in terror of the public. Many citizens who were legally open carrying and minding their own business have been charged with “going in terror of the public”. These cases also are usually thrown out of court because walking down a public sidewalk in a non-threatening manner while open carrying is not a crime in North Carolina.

Instead of calling legislators to ask them to stop HB 588, I suggest calling them to demand an end to 98 years of institutionalized racism and an end to keeping our sons and daughters as defenseless targets in officially gun free zones.

“An Act to Regulate the Sale of Concealed Weapons in North Carolina” – Part II

In any discussion of the 1919 act regulating the purchase of certain weapons in North Carolina, you have to go back to the state of politics as they existed in the 1890s. Post-Reconstruction, the Democrats had regained power in the state from the Republicans. However, this dominance was threatened in the 1890s by the rise of what was called Fusion politics. The Republicans and the Populist Party in North Carolina, while they differed on a national agenda, agreed on many items including education, voting rights, and the restoration of the charter of the Farmer’s Alliance which the Democrat-controlled General Assembly had revoked.

The guiding principle behind the fusion of the Republicans and the Populists was that they would agree to support the stronger candidate in each race against the Democrat’s candidate. Sometimes this would be the Populist and sometimes this would be the Republican. The elections of 1894 showed the success of the fusion approach. The Fusionists gained six US House seats from the Democrats; two for the Republicans and four for the Populists. They also elected both US Senators and took a super-majority in both house of the NC General Assembly. They repeated this success in the elections of 1896 where they widened their lead in the General Assembly, picked up another US House seat, and Republican Daniel Russell was elected governor. The General Assembly that convened in 1895 had five African-Americans as members and it loosened voting restrictions on blacks. As a result, voting participation of African-Americans increased significantly.

The Democrats had to come up with a strategy to overcome the successful fusion between the Populists and Republicans. They turned to New Bern attorney Furnifold M. Simmons who was appointed chairman of the NC Democratic Party. Simmons organized local party organizations in each county as well as a speaker’s bureau of orators such as South Carolina’s infamous Pitchfork Ben Tillman. The overriding strategy was based upon one thing: white supremacy.

The “white supremacy campaign” was exactly that. The Democrats repeatedly stated that only white men were fit to hold political office. They often accused the fusionists, especially the Republicans, of supporting “negro domination” in the state. Indeed, there were a large number of African American officeholders, some of whom had been elected and many more who were appointed to office. The Democrats referred to themselves as the “white man’s party” and appealed to white North Carolinians to restore them to power.

One of the most significant events of the campaign was the appearance of an editorial in the Wilmington Daily Record on August 18, 1898. The Daily Record was an African American newspaper published by Alex Manly. The editorial was a response to a speech by a Georgia woman who had called for the widespread lynching of African American men in order to protect white women. The Daily Record suggested that consensual relationships between African American men and white women were common and that often the man was accused of rape only after the relationship was discovered. Once the Democratic papers got hold of the editorial there was an uproar. Under headings such as “Vile and Villainous” and “A Horrid Slander,” the editorial was reprinted throughout the state. Some Democratic papers continued to run it in almost every single issue up to election day.

Not only was the election of 1898 built around white supremacy, it featured the intimidation of black voters by the neo-Fascist Red Shirts at the behest of Simmons as well as an actual coup d’etat after the election in Wilmington. Josephus Daniels, publisher of the News and Observer and an ardent white supremacist, said of Simmons that he was “a genius in putting everybody to
work—men who could write, men who could speak, and men who could ride—the last by no means the least important.” (As an aside, the News and Observer is editorializing in favor of keeping Jim Crow laws from that era.)

The role of newspapers such as the N&O, the Charlotte Observer, the Wilmington Morning Star, and the Wilmington Messenger cannot be understated. While their current staff and readership would be appalled by the overtly racist messages they published, they were the essential propaganda arm of the Democratic Party in North Carolina. In an era before the advent of TV and radio, the newspapers were the media. They conveyed the message to their readers through both editorials and through cartoons aimed at the less literate. Norman Jennett’s cartoons for the N&O ran above the fold and were praised by Democrats as “one of the powers that brought about the revolution.” Many of them can be found here.

On the eve of the 1898 election, Simmons wrote an editorial that laid out the reasons to vote for the Democrats and at its heart was the cause of white supremacy. It appeared on the front page of Daniels’ N&O on November 3rd.

Then came the evidence, disclosing the actual condition of affairs, in that section of the State, which astonished and shocked the consciences and moral sensibilities of the people.

NEGRO CONGRESSMEN, NEGRO SOLICITORS, NEGRO REVENUE OFFICERS, NEGRO COLLECTORS OF CUSTOMS, NEGROES in charge of white institutions, NEGROES in charge of white schools, NEGROES holding inquests over the white dead, NEGROES controlling the finances of great cities, NEGROES in control of the sanitation and police of cities, NEGRO CONSTABLES arresting white women and white men, NEGRO MAGISTRATES trying white women and white men, white convicts chained to NEGRO CONVICTS and forced to social equality with them, until the proofs rose up, and stood forth “like Pelion on Ossa piled.”….

The battle has been fought, the victory is within our reach. North Carolina is a WHITE MAN’S State, and WHITE MEN will rule it, and they will crush the party of negro domination beneath a majority so overwhelming that no other party will ever again dare to attempt to establish negro rule here.

They CANNOT intimidate us; they CANNOT buy us, and they SHALL NOT cheat us out of the fruits of our victory.

And victory was what the Democrats got in 1898. They gained back five seats in Congress from the Populists and Republicans and a super majority in the General Assembly (2 Populists and a smattering of mountain Republicans remained). While the fusionists won in Wilmington, then the state’s largest city, that lasted all of two days until white supremacists rioted and took over the city council from the elected representatives in what became known as the Wilmington Massacre.

They consolidated their gains in 1900 with the election of Democrat Charles B. Aycock as governor, the appointment of Simmons as US Senator, and a constitutional amendment that imposed both a poll tax and a literacy test. The amendment contained a grandfather clause enabling anyone whose ancestors were eligible to vote prior to 1867 to vote. Voter turnout dropped from around 85% in 1896 to less than 50% thereafter. A Republican would not be governor of North Carolina again until 1972 and a Republican majority in either house of the General Assembly until 2010.

Not only had the Democrats cemented their power but so had Furnifold Simmons. He would serve in the US Senate for 30 years and would use the power of patronage to maintain his control. Only once in the succeeding years was his candidate defeated for governor in the Democratic primary and then he worked to destroy the man. His organization wrote journalist W. J. Cash reached to “the headwaters of every Little Buffalo and Sandy Run in North Carolina; into every alley of every factory town.” The Democratic Party controlled a segregationist North Carolina and the Simmons Machine controlled the Democratic Party.

Part III will cover the passage of the act through the General Assembly in 1919 with the primary sponsor being none other than Simmons’ brother-in-law Sen. Earle A. Humphrey (D-Goldsboro).