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Dan Bishop On Guns, HB2 And The Affordable Care Act

Dan Bishop holds a news conference in front of opponent Dan McCready's office, May 15, 2019.
Courtesy WSOC-TV
Dan Bishop holds a news conference in front of opponent Dan McCready's office.

The general election campaign for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is on. In his first general election TV commercial Bishop says he is pro-gun, and said he doesn’t think gun control is the answer to reducing gun violence. In an interview with WFAE Morning Edition host Lisa Worf, he said solving mental health issues and building stronger families are important.

“The answer from the left to issues like that seem always be to restrict rights of law-abiding people, which seems implausible ineffective and contrary to the sort of basic principles of liberty that our country is built around.”

Bishop co-sponsored House Bill 2, which nullified parts of Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance for the gay, lesbian and transgender community. When asked whether he would have approached that legislation differently, he said every piece of legislation could be improved.

“Lots of things can happen in legislation that doesn’t turn out to be perfect when a controversy started,” said Bishop.

We will talk to McCready at Friday on Morning Edition. Play the audio to hear "Morning Edition" host Lisa Worf's conversation with Bishop.

Lisa Worf: If the first day of the general election campaign is any indication the 9th District congressional race is going to be intense. Republican Dan Bishop took his campaign outside the headquarters of Democrat Dan McCready yesterday to hold a press conference shortly before McCready held his own press conference inside. He had a cardboard cutout of McCready by his side, which is also part of Bishop's new ad in which he delivers the message that he is pro-life pro-gun and pro-wall. We'll talk to McCready at this time tomorrow. Today we have Mecklenburg State Senator Dan Bishop on the line. Good morning Mr. Bishop.

Dan Bishop: Good morning, Lisa.

Worf: I want to focus on the pro-gun part of your campaign ad. What does pro-gun mean?

Bishop: It means being unafraid to defend the Second Amendment right against those who have an extreme agenda to grab guns. The folks who want to confiscate weapons like Senator Elizabeth Warren, for example.

Worf: And as far as gun control measures?

Bishop: It certainly means that the way you approach the issue is with the healthy regard for the fact that the Second Amendment confers a right to bear arms and the hard left in this country has taken a position that's hostile to that basic inalienable right.

Worf: What is your solution to reducing gun violence whether that's school shootings or whether in Charlotte it's the increasing murder rate here?

Bishop: It's interesting. The answer from the left to issues like that seem always to be to restrict rights of law abiding people, which seems implausible, ineffective and contrary to the sort of basic principles of liberty that our country is built around. I think the problem is that we have a reduced sense of community, a number of social ills that lead to people being disconnected, mental health issues that are not adequately addressed and those things tend to multiply and don't receive the appropriate attention. And we continue to see sort of a decline or attacks on our fundamental values that promote sense of community. And I think those are the issues we need to focus on rather than treating a symptom of that problem.

Worf: When you talk about mental illness, for example, red flag laws, which would make it harder when someone may have a mental illness - people say they're  concerned - a court could temporarily keep them from getting a gun. Would that be something that you could get behind as a commonsense measure?

Bishop: Again, the reaction there is looking for opportunities to seize people's guns as the solution. So I certainly think that anyone who has a mental illness and is a potential threat that's a concern if they've got weapons available, but it's not the only issue. The issue is to address the mental illness. And I think some, many folks fear that red flag laws can be used or exploited by the same folks who are interested in confiscating weapons generally as a pretext to seize weapons. So not sure that's the answer.

Worf: So how do you see some of these societal issues that you're saying as far as getting guns illegally and, seeing some of the crime we're seeing, how do you specifically see addressing that to try to cut down on the violence?

Bishop: I think the answer is that we've got to, as a community, we've got to come  together over some issues like faith that's under attack. We ought to be encouraging faith. People participating in and joining a religion of their choice has been over the course of our nation's history one of the sources of what keeps us together. It creates cohesion and develops a sense of community. There are many ways in which our institutions, and so forth, are antagonistic to that today and we kind of need to go another direction. But that's something that's got to occur by consensus, I think, a cultural change.

Worf: Now, you had some questions for McCready in your press conference yesterday but he also had one for you.

Dan McCready: Will he or will he not support repealing the Affordable Care Act?

Worf: So how about it, Mr. Bishop?

Bishop: Look, as I, we said yesterday, I agree with Dan McCready that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster. It needs to be fixed. I think the right way to do it is to repeal and replace it. But he seems to agree that it has not been the panacea it was promised to be. So that certainly is something we ought to all keep in mind with the next - whether it's going to be Medicare for all or whatever the newest idea is from the socialist left - that we've already taken a big step with Obamacare, the ACA, which even the consensus is didn't work. So I agree with him that it's a defective law and it needs to be fixed.

Worf: How would you go about trying to replace and cover some of the 20 million people who might be lost with the repeal of it?

Bishop: There are many ways. One of which...I've got legislation that's passed the state senate and the spending at the state house right now to allow broader use of association health plans as something that the Obama administration used an administrative interpretation to sort of heavily restrict. But it's another route to provide high quality health care that covers pre-existing conditions and the like and yet allows a broader use of competition across state lines or in a variety of ways to provide another outlet, for example, to sole proprietors and small businesses to not be captive in the small business market where health insurers make tremendous profits. There's a series of reforms like that that can be made. It's not one single bullet, but there's many things that can be done to improve access to health care at lower cost.

Worf: Looking at your record one big part of it is House Bill 2. Knowing how that panned out would you have approached the legislative response to Charlotte's expansion of its nondiscrimination ordinance any differently?

Bishop: The issues that a controversy that arose, as you just point out, that the City of Charlotte passed an ordinance that actually, literally prohibited businesses from having separate bathrooms for males and females. Remarkable. Lots of things can happen in legislation that doesn't turn out to be perfect when a controversy is started. It's a good reason not to sail off on some kind of unusual groundbreaking and problematic course like that. But you always...every piece of legislation is imperfect and everything could be improved.

Worf: What would you have done differently in that case. I mean, here you have a case where companies decided not to locate here because of it and an AP analysis puts the states loss to HB2 at $3.6 billion. What specifically would you do differently?

Bishop: The AP analysis is funny. It's an analysis. There were a couple of reporters, non-economist reporters...

Worf: Well, most of that...

Bishop: It's a figure that has been repeated endlessly.

Worf: Most of that....

Bishop:The nonpartisan staff of the general assembly...excuse me, just a second, let me  finish my answer, if you will. The nonpartisan staff at the General Assembly, the economists, say no economic effect could be detected, but that's something that the media doesn't care to pick up. The media fascination with this is endless, but voters have long since tired of the endless controversy that has been mostly media manufactured.

Worf: Let me just say, most of that money...the loss was because PayPal decided not to relocate in Charlotte and the state Department of Commerce said, 'Hey we put that estimate at $200 million a year.'

Bishop: Where did they relocate instead?

Worf: They relocated, I believe, in Georgia.

Bishop: No ma'am, they did not put that facility anywhere. That ought to tell you something.

Worf: All right, Mr. Bishop, thanks for your time.

Bishop: My pleasure. Thanks very much.

Editor's Note: Bishop is right. PayPal did not locate a new facility elsewhere after deciding to pull out of North Carolina over HB2. However, the company ended up expanding its headcount at its other facilities.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.