A gun shop owner and a Marine Corps military veteran are competing for the congressional seat in North Carolina’s District 13.
Republican Ted Budd, 44, and Democrat Bruce Davis, 59, share strong Second Amendment values yet have different ideas on how to combat gun violence. They are both concerned about Islamic extremism and about the impact that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact might have on the state. But they disagree on building a wall on the southern border of the country to keep immigrants out.
District 13 consists of five counties between Statesville and Greensboro. It is one of several districts that a panel of three judges decided to alter earlier this year. The redistricting provided Budd and Davis with the rare opportunity to run for Congress without facing a powerful incumbent.
Budd says gun-control measures are not the solution to what he sees as a people problem. Terrorism and mental health are at the heart of gun violence in the United States, he said.
“When we address those and deal with those issues, then we begin to solve things that are falsely labeled as gun-control problems,” he said.
Davis says part of the reason gun violence has become so common is that people lack formal training on gun safety.
“In the Marine Corps, we carried a weapon for months before we got live ammunition, and I’m not saying that everyone has to have a gun for months to get ammunition, but certainly we became very familiar with that weapon,” he said.
I like to say ‘gun safety’ instead of ‘gun control.’ We need more gun safety.
Congress became increasingly concerned about gun violence in the United States following the June 12 mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Since then, Democrats and Republicans have sparred on the House of Representatives and Senate floors over whether to institute new gun-control measures. Some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would prevent individuals previously investigated for terror ties from acquiring weapons that they could use to commit acts of violence.
Those national security woes and others are at the center of the debate among candidates this year.
Budd said he wanted to “deal with the radicalization side of Islam,” which he described as “the real challenge” of strengthening national security.
“We want to make sure that we stay strong in our First Amendment rights, and that’s freedom of religion,” he said. “We also have freedom of speech, but we can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. So when freedom of religion manifests itself in the form of radical Islam, then we need to deal aggressively with it.”
Davis suggested that the United States and Russia work together to defeat Islamic factions overseas. Additionally, he said, the Congress needs to invest more money in the Department of Homeland Security.
“We really need to look at domestic terrorism, which is certainly a threat as we have people who converted by way of the internet. . . . We have to have some type of legislation, come up with some way to monitor those types of activities,” he said.
Another homeland security concern for the District 13 candidates is border security. Budd supports constructing a wall on the border.
“We’re all immigrants and we need to realize that we need to continue that, but it’s not a right for somebody to come to our country, it’s a privilege,” he said. “And we want to make sure that people who come to our country are here to join our system and are here to make our country better.”
Davis disagrees with building a wall, but he does support border control.
“It makes very little, if any, sense at all to try to build a wall, and Mexico has certainly said that they’re not going to pay for it,” Davis said.
“It seems the same people who are talking about deporting undocumented people, immigrants, apparently are not looking at the economics involved and the cost involved,” he said. “And they’re the same ones who want smaller government.”
Both men say they are wary about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership would affect North Carolina. They don’t want to support a deal that would harm the state. Still, neither has ruled out signing off on the deal.
“We have to make sure, one, we’re not signing bad deals so it becomes ‘unfair trade’ to the U.S. And then, secondly, we have to make sure that we are remaining competitive from a regulatory angle in the U.S.,” Budd said.
While, yes, I’m for free trade, I’m also for making sure that we don’t sign bad deals and also making sure that we’re not choking ourselves down with regulations here in our country.
“It’s such a large bill, like anything else, and it requires some studying before I could. And I plan to do that, certainly, to have a better stance on it in the future,” Davis said.
Maggie Ybarra: @MolotovFlicker
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management from Appalachian State University. Master’s degree in business administration from Wake Forest University.
Professional experience: Owner of ProShots Indoor Range & Training.
Political résumé: He has never for political office.
Family: Budd and his wife, Amy Kate, have three children.
Education: Bachelor of science in business from High Point University.
Professional experience: Owner, Kid Appeal Learning Center, a five-star child development center in High Point for over 18 years.
Political résumé: Former Guilford County commissioner of 12 years. Ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Family: Davis and his wife, Angela, have five children.