On October 13, 2022, a 15-year-old boy armed with a shotgun went on a killing spree in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina. The shooter killed five North Carolinians: his 16-year-old brother; a soon-to-be-bride and veteran of the U.S. Navy taking her dog for a walk; an off-duty police officer and former Marine on his way to work; a woman sitting on her front porch; a jogger exercising on a popular running trail; and a woman visiting the neighborhood to see an old friend.
As the 17th mass shooting in North Carolina this year, this tragedy occurred amid a broader surge in gun violence and violent crime across the state, which has the 16th highest rate of mass shootings in the country. From 2011 to 2020, North Carolina saw a 35 percent increase in gun deaths and an 88 percent increase in gun homicides. From 2020 to 2021, incidents of violent crime in North Carolina increased by 5.9 percent—from 29,908 incidents to 31,682—44.7 percent of which were related to firearms and handguns. In an average year, 1,470 people die from guns in North Carolina.
Rep. Budd has shifted blame for gun violence to everything except for firearms, voted against commonsense gun safety reforms that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support, and made significant personal profit by selling guns.
Although Democratic lawmakers in North Carolina have filed more than a dozen gun safety bills to keep communities safe, Republican leadership has refused to bring a single bill to the floor, including a measure that would have raised the minimum age for possessing a shotgun—such as the one used in the most recent mass shooting in Raleigh.
Based on his record, it’s clear that, if elected, Donald Trump-endorsed candidate and current North Carolina House Representative Ted Budd (R)—one of only two U.S. congressmen to own a gun store—will continue to put his own interests ahead of the safety of North Carolinians. Since being elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Budd has shifted blame for gun violence to everything except for firearms, voted against commonsense gun safety reforms that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support, and made significant personal profit by selling guns.
In contrast, Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley has promised to be a champion for gun safety across North Carolina and to enact real solutions to reduce violent crime, including investing in community policing, fighting for universal background checks, and expanding safe storage measures for firearms.
North Carolina gun violence: By the numbers
Increase in gun deaths in North Carolina from 2011 to 2020
Increase in gun homicides in North Carolina from 2011 to 2020
Percentage of violent crimes in North Carolina involving guns from 2020 to 2021
Number of North Carolinians who die every year, on average, by gun violence
Rep. Budd makes his fortune flooding North Carolina with guns—even as gun crime is on the rise
- Rep. Budd is one of only two U.S. congressmen to own a gun store. He has owned ProShots—a gun store and shooting range in Rural Hall, North Carolina—since 2010 and boasted about a surge in sales in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
- The range even offers tactical training courses for firing AR-15s designed to “build correct combat shooting [principles] into [students’] muscle memory” with an emphasis on “quick accurate shots” at close range.
- Rep. Budd makes millions of dollars by flooding North Carolina with guns. According to financial disclosure documents, his stake in the gun range is valued as much as $5 million, and since 2016, he’s made more than $4 million in income from ProShots.
- For years, Rep. Budd has had a vested financial interest in selling more firearms while voting against restrictions on who he could sell them to, including voting against a bipartisan bill to prevent gun dealers such as himself from selling firearms to convicted domestic abusers.
- In North Carolina’s Forsyth County, where Rep. Budd’s gun store is located, there was a 169 percent increase in pistol permits issued from 2019 to 2020. In nearby Wake County, there was a 373 percent increase in requests for pistol permits in 2020—more than in 2017, 2018, and 2019 combined.
- In the years since Rep. Budd was elected to Congress, more than 7,351 North Carolinians have died from gun violence.
Rep. Budd has sold and promoted services that domestic abusers and other violent criminals can use to avoid persecution
- Rep. Budd’s gun store advertises an insurance program supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) called U.S. Law Shield, which offers easy-to-access and on-demand legal services for owners of concealed-carry guns.
- The insurance program encourages the broader use of concealed weapons, and despite veiled attempts to deny it, includes coverage for individuals facing domestic violence charges.
- This comes at a time when North Carolina domestic violence shelters have experienced a lack of resources to handle requests for services, posing obstacles for domestic violence survivors to get the resources and protection they need.
- In 2018, 40 percent of women who were killed in North Carolina were killed by their partners, and instances of domestic violence increased across the state in 2020. A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Public Health found that out of a representative sample of 406 domestic violence protective orders in North Carolina, 46 percent of domestic violence perpetrators had access to a firearm—a number far higher than in previous studies.
Rep. Budd says he’s tough on crime, but he has repeatedly voted against gun violence prevention measures
- Rep. Budd has pitched himself as the law-and-order candidate, yet he has consistently voted against legislation that would keep North Carolinians safe. In 2021, Budd voted against the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 1446), and in 2022, he broke with both Republican U.S. senators from North Carolina to vote against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938).
- Although 68 percent of North Carolina Republicans support extreme risk protection orders, 85 percent of Republicans support background check requirements on all gun sales, and 63 percent of Republicans support raising the purchase age for semi-automatic weapons to 21 years old, Rep. Budd acted against the will of the people to vote against these commonsense proposals.
- Rep. Budd has expressed his intention to “always protect and preserve our God-given Second Amendment rights,” but he has offered no real solutions to solve the surge of violence in North Carolina. In fact, his campaign website claims that there are no commonsense reforms that will stop criminals from committing gun violence—making clear that Budd is unwilling to even consider policies that will keep North Carolinians safe.
- Furthermore, he’s not even willing to admit gun crime is a problem. In the wake of mass shootings in Florida—both the 2017 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the 2018 school shooting in Parkland—he denied that America has a gun crime problem, instead resorting to problematic claims that mass shootings are primarily caused by reasons such as “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Rep. Budd is beholden to the gun industry because he is the gun industry
- It’s unsurprising that Rep. Budd, as the owner of a gun store, has an “A” rating from the NRA and has bent over backwards to avoid confronting the issue of gun violence.
- When he was running for Congress in 2016, Rep. Budd made his affinity for firearms the centerpiece of his campaign, including through an advertisement that showed him selling guns, cocking a rifle, and loading a military-grade shotgun.
- Rep. Budd received $3,000 from the NRA’s PAC in 2016, $4,500 in 2018, and $2,000 in 2020. Moreover, the gun lobby has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his campaign, making it easy to see why Budd seems to prioritize the interests of the gun lobby—and his own bottom line—over the safety of his constituents. He has a direct financial incentive to sell as many guns as possible to anyone he can—regardless of who gets hurt.
MAGA Republican Ted Budd claims to be the candidate for safety and law and order, but the data, his legislative record, and financial incentives reveal the opposite. Rep. Budd’s own financial interests—which are tangled up with the interests of the NRA—should not be put above the safety and wishes of his constituents. The result will be more guns in the hands of dangerous people, more illegal gun sales, and a surge in North Carolina gun crime. Budd’s agenda on guns is too extreme and too out of touch for the Tar Heel State.