North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis supports the Second Amendment, and it has never been in doubt. When he first ran for state office and supporters questioned his staunch position on the right to keep and bear arms, he didn’t blink.
“When I ended up getting into the state house, and I made it very clear that we were going to support the Second Amendment, I had people coming to me saying, ‘Thom, why are you doing these additional protections for Second Amendment rights?’ And I said…I believe the people of North Carolina revere our Second Amendment, and they’ll support us.”
They did. Sen. Tillis led the fight to pass gun rights legislation in the Tarheel State legislature before bringing that fight to the U.S. Senate and he hasn’t hesitated since.
Financial Discrimination A Priority
Sen. Tillis, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, joined dozens of firearm and ammunition industry leaders for a virtual town hall event sponsored by the NSSF Political Action Committee (PAC) and discussed important topics facing the Second Amendment and the gun industry leading up to Election Day and beyond. The firearm industry has been long focused on discrimination by banks and financial institutions of lawful and legally compliant industries. NSSF’s Larry Keane, moderating the event, emphasized North Carolina’s significance as the home state to several banking institutions and firearm manufacturers.
“The issue of banking and discrimination by the financial services sector against members of the firearm industry is really one of the top concerns our industry has right now,” Keane began. “We’re seeing a terrible pattern of discrimination by the banks against our industry.”
Sen. Tillis added that the discriminatory headwinds facing gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers has his attention. He warned what could happen if control of the Senate goes to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
“Here’s what I can tell you is gonna happen if Chuck Schumer and Biden get the gavel – they’re gonna fully operationalize Operation Choke Point and it [the firearm industry] will be an unbanked industry. They want to shut you and some other industries out of business.”
Tillis voiced concerns that some banking institutions and their board members are approaching fiduciary malpractice by discriminating against disfavored industries and picking some lawful businesses over others.
“This is sort of like Animal Farm, ‘Everybody’s created equal, but some are created more equal than others,” Sen. Tillis added.
Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett
The conversation also included talk of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and what her confirmation will mean for the Second Amendment. Sen. Tillis sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which began confirmation hearings on Judge Barrett this week.
Judge Barrett has given Second Amendment supporters reason for optimism as her history and approach to the bench has been that of an originalist, one who interprets the law based on the writings of the Founding Fathers and doesn’t create new law from the bench. This is especially positive for the Second Amendment community and possible gun rights cases the Court may hear.
“She’s a brilliant jurist, brilliant professor and endorsed by people from across the political spectrum,” Sen. Tillis said. “I believe she will get confirmed…We confirmed her for the Seventh Circuit. I’m going to do everything I can to get her confirmed.”
High Stakes Beyond Election Day
Not all hopes can rest on court appointments, however. Gun control advocates are ready to pounce should they gain the White House and the Senate.
“Some of it will do irreparable damage,” Sen. Tillis told virtual town hall participants about the stakes facing the Second Amendment and the industry following Election Day. His North Carolina Senate seat is regarded as a bellwether for the upper chamber. That race has White House election observers closely watching too.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) comprise the most antigun presidential ticket in modern history. Their gun control platform includes confiscation and measures to decimate the industry. They continue to flirt with packing the Supreme Court to help politicize more gun control and legislate from the bench.
Biden has been questioned about his court-packing approach numerous times but has refused to answer. Keane summed up what everyone is thinking.
“Biden just said the other day, ‘He’ll tell people whether he’s going to pack the court after the election,” he said. “By not answering the question you have answered the question.’”
Sen. Tillis summed up the stakes facing North Carolinians and the country, explaining the support he’s seeing from the ground.
“If we don’t win in November, this industry will never look the same,” Sen. Tillis said. “And the Second Amendment will never look the same.”
NSSF launched the #GUNVOTE® initiative to insure Second Amendment supporters are informed, engaged and turn out to vote on Nov. 3 so they don’t risk their rights.
Matt Manda is the manager of Public Affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.