Fact Check: Is McCready Right In Saying Bishop Is A 'Career Politician?'

May 21, 2019

In an interview on WFAE's Morning Edition last week, Democrat Dan McCready said his opponent in the 9th Congressional District, Republican Dan Bishop, is a "career politician."

In speaking about not expanding background checks for gun purchases, McCready said, "It's because of career politicians like Dan Bishop, frankly, who are bought and sold by the special interests and are not actually putting the interest of the people first."

But is Bishiop a "career politician?"

Bishop, 54, has had two stints in public office.

His first came when he served two terms on the Mecklenburg Commission, from December 2004 to December 2008. A county commissioner is a part-time job, and Bishop said he continuted to practice law during his time on the county board.

[Related Content: Dan McCready On Immigration, Gun Control And Trade]

Bishop did not run for reelection in 2008.

His second stint came in 2014, when he won a seat in the N.C. House. He won a state Senate seat in 2016, and then won reelection last November. The state legislature is also technically a part-time job.

McCready has never held elected office before. But had he won last year's 9th Congressional District election, McCready would have been 35 when he went to Washington D.C. — about five years younger than when Bishop was first elected.

Bishop and McCready say they both support term limits.

In the interview, McCready also spoke of the need to expand background checks.

"I believe that the best solution for getting at the gun violence epidemic is universal background checks," he said. "The reason I say that is because we believe that as many as a third of transfers and sales of firearms right here in North Carolina may go without a background check."

But that one-third appears to wrong.

McCready's campaign spokesperson said that estimate is off, and the correct number may be closer to 20 percent. Dory MacMillan said the number came from a Annals of Medicine survey from 2017 that attempted to determine what percentage of gun sales or transfers were done without a background check.

The study found that 22 percent of of gun owners who reported obtaining their most recent firearm didn't have a background check.

The study does not break down the results by state.

But at the time the study was conducted, there were 20 states — including North Carolina — that had additional background check legislation in addition to federal requirements. 

In North Carolina, a 1995 law requires that all pistol sales — even those made between private individuals — be subject to a background check. 

A 2014 state report under then-Attorney General Roy Cooper said, "Under North Carolina law, it is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, give away, transfer, purchase, or receive, at any place in the State, any pistol, unless the purchaser or receiver has first obtained a license or permit to receive such a pistol by the sheriff of the county where the purchaser or receiver resides, or the purchaser or receiver possesses a valid North Carolina issued concealed carry permit."

It continued: "This requirement to obtain a permit prior to the transfer of a pistol applies not only to a commercial transaction, typically at a sporting goods store, but also between private individuals or companies throughout North Carolina."

That doesn't apply to assault weapons or rifles, which was much of McCready's point. 

He said, "I went to buy a pump-action shotgun last year at Cabela's. I'm a law-abiding citizen, a Marine, I went through a background check. So it's not right that I would go through one, but someone who wants to do harm with a weapon, someone who may be mentally ill, a domestic abuser, someone who does terrible things can just roll up into a gun show and buy all the firearms that they want."