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Sheriffs, anti-gun control group have tangled before

If you haven’t yet read today’s story on two new gun bills that seek to do away with concealed carry permits in North Carolina, you should.

We also have an update for you.

On Wednesday Rep. Rena Turner (R-Iredell) filed House Bill 174. It would allow concealed carry on church-school properties outside of school hours.

In today’s story we quoted Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes, who is co-chairman of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association’s legislative committee, as saying he thinks doing away with concealed carry permitting and restrictions is dangerous.

This isn’t the first time Barnes – or the Sheriffs’ Association – has butted heads with anti-gun law forces.

Back in 2013 Barnes opposed a bill that would have done away with pistol permitting by sheriff’s departments altogether. He faced blowback and even threats of opposition in his next sheriff’s race. Barnes, consistently one of Guilford County’s most popular elected Republicans, said he wasn’t intimidated and went on to win handily.

At that time Barnes, who has for years taken to Facebook to make statements to the public, was getting a lot of negative online comments from people who questioned his conservative credentials.

“When their Facebook profile picture is of an M-16 or a Rebel Flag, you know where their hearts are,” Barnes said. “To them, it’s about guns, guns, guns. To me, it’s about public safety.”

Among those criticized Barnes then was Paul Valone, president and co-founder of gun rights activist group Grassroots North Carolina.

Valone’s group is backing the concealed carry-related bills again this year and had some choice words for Barnes and the Sheriffs’ Association in an interview this week.

“BJ Barnes was once very pro Second Amendment,” Valone said. “Now he’s very pro BJ Barnes.”

The Sheriffs’ Association is controlled by lobbyists and doesn’t really represent on-the-street law enforcement officers, many of whom feel the same way about guns that his group does.

Barnes laughed at that.

“For Paul, it’s all about raising money,” Barnes said. “Everything he does, he ends it with ‘send us money’ – so he likes whipping up a controversy.”

Valone and his group stirred up controversy last year when they raffled off an M-4 configured AR-15, a thousand rounds of ammunition and a portrait of Hillary Clinton they suggested people might enjoy using as target practice.

NC Policy Watch covered the raffle then, which ended up getting international attention.

“I want to thank Policy Watch for their coverage,” Valone said this week. “We ended up getting a lot more attention and raising a lot of money. I had people calling from the BBC and people buying raffle tickets in countries where they couldn’t even own the gun. It was great!”

 

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