A new attack ad from the National Rifle Association (NRA) against North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Deborah Ross falsely claims Ross “opposed your right to self-defense” while serving as a member of North Carolina’s legislature.
But the vote cited by the NRA was not on legislation about the meaning of the “right to self-defense” -- in fact, the bill contained a provision to allow people subject to protective orders for domestic violence to own guns.
On September 14, the NRA released an ad that claims that, while a member of North Carolina House of Representatives, “Ross voted against personal liberty. Ross voted for gun control. Ross opposed your right to self-defense.”
According to The Charlotte Observer the ad is airing in Charlotte, Greensboro and Wilmington and the ad buy brings the total amount spent by the NRA in favor of Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr to $3 million.
The NRA ad cites Ross’ 2011 vote against House Bill 650 to support its claim Ross “opposed your right to self-defense”:
HB 650 was an omnibus bill strongly backed by the NRA that contained numerous provisions loosening North Carolina’s gun laws. The bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bev Perdue in June 2011. Among the bill’s provisions was a change to Chapter 50B of North Carolina’s domestic violence law. While before the law was enacted, people subject to a protective order because of domestic violence were prohibited from both owning and possessing firearms, the law was changed by HB650 to allow domestic abusers to own guns so long as they were not in the abuser’s possession -- a provision that allows abusers easier access to firearms.
According to academic research, “domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun.”
Taking into account the other provisions of the bill -- which loosened rules on carrying guns in public buildings and on state property and made it easier for North Carolinians to buy guns across state lines and to buy machine-guns and silencers that are highly restricted under federal law -- voting against the legislation cannot be truthfully equated with opposing the right to self-defense. As it relates to firearms, the right to self-defense is presently described by the Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller to encapsulate the right of law-abiding people to have a gun in the home for the purpose of self-defense.
Opposing the loosening of gun laws -- including making it easier for violent domestic abusers to access weapons -- does not mean opposing the core self-defense right defined by then-Justice Antonin Scalia in the conservative Heller decision.
Ross has responded to the ad with a statement that said it was being run “to distract from Sen. Burr’s reckless votes against a commonsense, bipartisan measure that would require dangerous criminals, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill to get a background check before buying a gun at a gun show or online.”