You may remember NC State Senator Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg). She is the senator who contended that North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit system was not racist despite its origins and its disparate impact on African-Americans. In her floor debate, she also made the claim that the law stopped more than 2,300 permits from being issued in her county despite having passed a NICS check.
It was an outrageous claim and not surprising coming from someone proudly claiming to be a member of Moms Demand Action.
Using both FOIA requests and multiple letters to Sen. Marcus, Grass Roots North Carolina found that her claims were, as the saying goes, made out of whole cloth. In other words, she made it up.
Grass Roots North Carolina is now asking that she receive formal discipline by the North Carolina Senate for her false claims.
Group Demands Disciplinary Action
Against Sen. Natasha Marcus
NC State Senator propagates falsehood during floor
debate over purchase permit repeal bill
[Raleigh] Grass Roots North Carolina today demanded disciplinary action by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger against Mecklenburg County Senator Natasha Marcus after finding conclusive documentation that during the Senate floor debate over House Bill 398 (“Repeal Purchase Permits”), Marcus falsely claimed to have proof that repealing the purchase permit system would result in handguns purchased by unqualified buyers who pass the FBI computerized background check but otherwise “failed the permit application.”
FOIA requests to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff Office (MCSO) now conclusively demonstrate that the numbers claimed by Marcus are false, demonstrating that she mislead her colleagues and constituents alike during debate over the bill.
Below is the letter delivered today to Sen. Berger demanding formal disciplinary action under Article II, Section 20 of the North Carolina Constitution. Copies of the letter from MCSO documenting the falsehood as well as the legal memo from GRNC Director of Legal Affairs Ed Green are available upon request.
September 8, 2021
The Honorable Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore
16 West Jones Street, Room 2007
Raleigh, NC 27601
Dear Senator Berger:
Grass Roots North Carolina has now received conclusive proof that in the August 18, 2021 Senate floor debate over House Bill 398 (“Repeal Purchase Permits”), Sen. Natasha Marcus used false information to attack the bill.
As documented in the recording we have posted at https://www.grnc.org/hb-398-audio, Marcus claimed background checks for pistol purchase permits (PPPs) are supposedly superior to those conducted under the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS), saying:
“In Mecklenburg County, in the last fiscal year, over 2,300 permit applications passed the NICS background check but failed the permit application. So if this bill passed, all 2,300 plus of those applicants will now have a new unrestricted pass to purchase a handgun…”
That assertion is false. As outlined in the attached letter from Mecklenburg County Sheriff Office Public Information Manager Janet Parker in response to a FOIA request by GRNC Director of Legal Affairs Ed Green, the number of permit denials claimed by Marcus is not of people who passed NICS but were denied by Sheriff Garry McFadden; in fact, it represents all permit denials for the fiscal year 2021, including those denied via NICS.
When questioned on the source of her information, Marcus failed to provide the data for eight days, claiming that her unspecified “source” was gathering documentation. Only in response to my open letter to the Senate did she claim the information was provided by Permitium, LLC lobbyist Andy Munn in a series of text messages for which she provided screen images.
When called out publicly, Marcus doubled down on her claim, saying:
“You will see that the texts confirm exactly what I said on the floor: More than 2,300 permits were denied in Mecklenburg County during the last fiscal year due to issues that became apparent AFTER the applicant had passed a NICS check. This proves that the permit check system is neither duplicative nor unnecessary. It is an important tool to keep handguns away from dangerous and unstable people and it saves lives. Your efforts to eliminate it are reckless.”
But referencing the number of denials claimed (2,379) to have passed NICS but “failed the permit application”, MCSO’s Public Information Manager responded:
“The number of PPP application denials in your request appears to represent the total number of denials (or very close to the actual total) for the entire fiscal year, including denials based on NICS disqualifiers. MCSO does not keep records distinguishing reasons for denial contained within NICS and reasons for
denial outside of NICS. Nor does the MCSO keep easily accessible records that indicate all of the reasons for a PPP application denial when there are multiple reasons for denying a single application.”
Facts about Mecklenburg County pistol purchase permit denials:
- MCSO does not keep the statistic claimed by Marcus: Permitium lobbyist Andy Munn could not tell Marcus how many passed NICS but failed the application because MCSO does not enter or store that information.
- Marcus’ claim covers all denials, including those stopped by NICS: The total number of denials was 2,378 including those stopped by NICS – one less than Marcus claimed “passed the NICS background check but failed the permit application.”
- The denials do not mean 2,378 people couldn’t purchase handguns: Some reasons for denial, such as failure to pay the permit fee or sign the release, or failure to provide previously requested documentation, were probably cured in a subsequent application that resulted in issuance of a PPP.
- Denials included 426 who weren’t residents of Mecklenburg County: These applicants were likely eligible to own firearms but simply applied in the wrong county.
Sen. Marcus should be held to account:
Because effective public policy relies on accurate, honest information, propagating false information to colleagues and constituents represents serious misconduct, particularly when the falsehoods are uttered in a floor debate to mislead legislative colleagues with respect to legislation under debate.
Accordingly, please consider this a request by Grass Roots North Carolina for Senate leadership to formally discipline Senator Natasha Marcus as authorized under Article II, Section 20 of the North Carolina Constitution, the authority for which is outlined in a January 9, 2008 North Carolina House of Representatives memo entitled “Authority of Legislative Bodies to Discipline Members.”
F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International
Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom