A new gun rights group has popped up under the moniker of North Carolina Gun Rights (NCGR), not to be confused with the longstanding Grass Roots NC (GRNC), however easy it may be to conflate the two.
On its website, North Carolina Gun Rights calls itself a grassroots political action committee (PAC) “dedicated to advancing the right of North Carolina citizens to own and use firearms.”
In October of last year, NCGR launched its efforts, promising more rights for gun owners, monthly AR-15 giveaways, and a whole host of swag if you donate and become one of their guardians of freedom giving recurring monthly gifts.
But only a little more than $6,000 came into the PAC in 2016. And $5,000 of that came from another North Carolina PAC that itself began in July of last year. NCGR spent nearly $5,000 of that sum on Facebook advertising and paying a political consulting company owned by the director of NCGR. (We will get back to that.).
So how much money does the group have left to buy a rifle and make all of those t-shirts, polo shirts, decals and hats and other giveaways?
NCGR also criticized the recent constitutional carry bill filed by Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus).
Paul Valone, president of GRNC said in a release that Gun Rights North Carolina also implied Grass Roots North Carolina was a fraudulent gun rights group, which NCGR has denied.
Valone had a few more words for the newer group. Valone said that it is NCGR that is the phony – a group that aims not to advance gun rights but to make money.
The group’s director is Reilly O’Neal, and in addition to being the director of NCGR he is the owner of Tidewater Strategies, LLC, which happens to be the recipient of NCGR’s largest disbursement of 2016 in the form of a $4,000 payment for political strategy consulting. Tidewater also built NCGR’s website.
During the year NCGR made two expenditures: the $4,000 payout to O’Neal’s firm and $827 worth of ad buys on Facebook.
In addition to owning Tidewater Strategies, O’Neal is the director of NCGR, and has been since September, according to a filing with the Office of the Secretary of State.
The group was originally registered under the name of a Drew Goodson, who also registered the Principled Leadership Project PAC, which gave NCGR that $5,000 in seed money. In September, Goodson handed over that responsibility to O’Neal, which seems to be the only record of his relationship to the organization.
In contrast, Grass Roots North Carolina has been active in gun rights since 1994. Valone has been highly visible in the public square.
The story has been updated with additional information from NCGR.