Meet an anti-gun safety Senate candidate: Ted Budd

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North Carolina Republican Rep. Ted Budd owns a gun store and does not like anyone talking about firearms laws after mass shootings.

For North Carolina Republican Senate nominee Rep. Ted Budd, opposing new gun safety laws isn't just a political opinion: It's also an effort to stop any additional regulations that would affect his own gun shop and shooting range.

Budd, whose ProShots gun facility was worth more than $1,000,000 as of his most recent financial disclosure statement, ran for the House seat in North Carolina's 13th Congressional District in 2016 as a staunch opponent of gun laws.

In an interview in May 2016, he told the Salisbury (North Carolina) Post that the Second Amendment was there to help citizens protect themselves against their government: "I feel it is a check and balance in the system, in the Constitution, that was explicitly written in the Bill of Rights. It protects freedoms of expression. It tells governments 'please don't encroach on the rights of the people.'"

In May of this year, Budd won the GOP primary for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. He will face Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley in November.
A former state Supreme Court chief justice, Beasley backs "common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks, encouraging safe storage and closing loopholes to prevent domestic abusers and those with mental health issues from being able to obtain a gun." She also proposes to "do more to stop the plague of mass shootings across our communities by keeping combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and away from our schools."

Budd opposes these and other gun restrictions, claiming without evidence that none could possibly help curb gun violence.

On the "Defending the Second Amendment" page of his campaign site, he asserts, "Any encroachment of the 2nd Amendment won't stop criminals—it will only undermine the ability to defend yourself and protect your family. Firearm confiscation is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of hunters and sportsmen."

A Budd spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story. But his record in Congress is one of both opposing new gun safety laws and trying to weaken the ones on the books.

A reliable vote against keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals

In March 2021, Budd voted against the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, a bill that would ensure that all purchasers pass a background check before buying a gun. In a floor speech, he warned that it might stop people from loaning out their firearms and undermine "the rights of law-abiding gun owners."

"We simply cannot sacrifice our rights by passing laws that will make our families less safe and laws that criminals will simply ignore. We must always protect and preserve our God-given Second Amendment rights," he argued.

Last month, he voted against numerous proposals aimed at addressing gun violence.

On June 8, he opposed the Protecting Our Kids Act and cast separate votes against its individual provisions to raise the age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon to 21; require firearms to be traceable; mandate that guns be safely stored away from kids; and restrict high-capacity magazines.

A day later, he voted against a federal extreme risk protection order law that would allow federal judges to temporarily disarm individuals adjudicated to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.

In an interview with radio host KC O'Dea on June 14, Budd said that he opposed "red flag" laws because people might lie to disarm others, ignoring the fact that doing so would be illegal and that a court would have to rule on the merits before the law could be applied in a specific case:

When you talk red flags, you're going to talk about due process and somebody — angry ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, somebody, an angry neighbor that doesn't like the way the leaves fell in somebody's pool, I don't know, you can, you can say that this person is a danger. And all of a sudden they lose their Second Amendment rights. And so these are real concerns, that somebody's due process gets violated. ... I do like that they're taking a look at what the real core is here, and that is mental health. We have a major crisis that has gone unaddressed, and people have largely paid lip service to this issue. Republicans have been raising their hands, saying, We have to deal with this mental health crisis. ... The goal here, and I think you would agree with me, KC, is, keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, but the vast, vast majority of Americans, we have to protect their Second Amendment rights, and we have to keep them out of the hands of bad people and in the hands of the good people that want them.

Asked by O'Dea if he had a theory as to why there is "what we see today," unlike in the 1970s, when, he argued, it was easier to obtain firearms, Budd blamed the rise in gun violence on everything but guns and suggested firearms have remained the same since 1911:

So nothing has happened since John Browning, really, you know, invented what we know as the 1911, most people think of it as a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. That's really been around, what now, 111 years? Nothing's changed since that. But people have changed. Families, there's more brokenness in families, there's more drug use and abuse, there is, you know, definitely a lot of people doing things they shouldn't as far as ingesting things that they shouldn't, smoking things that they shouldn't, and maybe making a lot of bad decisions. And that puts people in a bad spot to make bad decisions in the heat of the moment ... And people are distressed about a lot of things, people are constantly absorbing social media, and look, no one can turn away from a train wreck.

On June 24, Budd voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a compromise supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and both of North Carolina's Republican senators, calling it a "gun control bill."
He said of the bill, which contains enhanced background checks for would-be firearm purchasers under the age of 21, barred convicted domestic abusers from acquiring guns, and offered funds to states that enact "red flag" laws to help with implementation, "I will not support this legislation because I am concerned that it will have the unintended effect of infringing on the due process rights of law-abiding citizens."

Wants to overturn state safety requirements for concealed carrying

About half of the states require individuals to obtain a permit to carry concealed firearms in public. Budd has pushed a federal bill to force all states to allow out-of-state gun owners to carry concealed weapons as long as they can in their home states.

Budd's Senate campaign site notes that he believes "Law-abiding citizens' [sic] have a constitutional right to carry across state lines, and is an original cosponsor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act."

In a December 2017 press release, Budd called the bill "a simple proposal, but a necessary one, and if enacted it will allow lawful owners to carry their firearm into other states that allow concealed carry. This interstate recognition of concealed carry would be similar to a driver's license."

Defending assault weapons

Budd is a vocal defender of the right to possess semi-automatic assault rifles and says they should not be prohibited because, he insists, gun violence is the fault of a person, not of a "device."

In February 2018, according to the Greensboro News and Record, he told constituents that an assault weapons ban would "just make us feel better in the short term" but not "actually make a difference."

"There are two sources of these mass shootings: One is mental illness - that's probably the biggest - and the other is radical Islamic terrorism. ... So we don't have a device problem; it's easy to blame the device. What we have is a violence issue. What are we going to do with the pressure cooker at the Boston Marathon and its shrapnel? What are we going to do with the vans that are rented and get driven down the crowded streets of Paris and kill 80 people?"

Two years later, Fox News published an opinion column Budd wrote that began:

Over the past few months, I've watched Virginia, a state that has historically respected and understood the importance of the Second Amendment, move toward a dangerous new approach that would overturn this crucial constitutional safeguard.

 

Red flag laws with no due process, redundant background checks, so-called "assault weapons" bans, and many other anti-gun policies have been proposed or discussed. But these policies will do little to address the mass violence problem in our society.

 

What's happening here is quite simple: liberal politicians in Virginia – from Gov. Ralph Northam on down – are trying to punish responsible, law-abiding gun owners with additional regulatory restrictions instead of focusing their attention on those who commit heinous acts of violence.

We don't talk about guns after mass shootings

After the mass shootings that happen more and more frequently in the United States, Budd has repeatedly scolded survivors and others for demanding policy changes to prevent future attacks.

After the 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Budd told the Charlotte Observer that people, rather than the devices they use, are the problem: "It's intellectually lazy to continue to talk about a device problem when the real problem is evil, the darkest parts of human nature that can often go unchecked at times."

In 2017, following more than 50 deaths in a mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert, Budd said that it was inappropriate to bring up gun laws in the aftermath. "Too often, the conversation around these attacks shifts away from the hurting families and the fallen victims and towards scoring political points," he told the Salisbury Post.

After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 left 17 dead, surviving students organized a March for Our Lives to call for action. Budd baselessly attacked the survivors as being part of the "Antifa" movement and told the Dispatch in Lexington, North Carolina that they had been "co-opted."

"There's a rage," he said, "but it's pointed in the wrong direction."

A lifetime member of the NRA — and a recipient of its money

The website of Budd's gun range includes an advertisement encouraging visitors to join the National Rifle Association.

On his campaign site, he boasts of being "a trained NRA Range Safety Officer and lifetime NRA and Grassroots NC member." Grass Roots North Carolina calls itself the state's "only 'no-compromise' gun rights organization."

The NRA has returned the love, sending him at least $8,500 in political action committee contributions over his political career and spending more than $200,000 on "independent expenditures" in support of his campaigns.

Budd also touts an endorsement from the far-right Gun Owners of America, a gun group that has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "a more radical alternative to the National Rifle Association." According to Budd's website, GOA said, "Gun owners in the Tar Heel State deserve a Second Amendment Champion in the US Senate. Congressman Ted Budd has proven himself to be that champion."

Budd responded that he and his wife were "are both big supporters of the 2nd Amendment and we are honored that the Gun Owners of America has endorsed our campaign for US Senate. Safe and responsible gun ownership is our sacred right and I greatly appreciate that my fellow gun owners believe I'm the candidate who will best protect our constitutional rights."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.