Ted Budd, North Carolina’s Republican nominee for Senate, is one of two sitting U.S. congressmen to own a gun store, and his advertises on its website an insurance provider that supports gun owners who face domestic violence charges. Some advocates and family members of gun violence victims have called insurance plans like this—which have also been advertised by the NRA—“murder insurance.”
Budd’s store, ProShots, is located in Rural Hall, North Carolina, and in advertising U.S. Law Shield insurance, the Senate candidate seems unnervingly willing to help customers who might use their guns from ProShots to hurt or threaten partners or family members. Budd holds an A-rating from the NRA for his votes against gun safety legislation, and the group has also endorsed him in his Senate race.
U.S. Law Shield offers legal representation and other support to its members who face criminal or civil charges for use of force, and also offers bail bonds, coverage for “negligent” or “accidental” discharge of a firearm, and protection against prosecution under North Carolina’s Wildlife Resource Commission regulations.
The insurance program notably has some pretty contradictory terms around coverage for domestic violence incidents: Specifically, U.S. Law Shield includes a “Family Violence Exclusion” clause in its terms, stating it won’t cover cases “involving a firearm or other lawful weapon against a Member’s current or former family member, household or dating relationship as defined in applicable state law.” But then, in June 2020, the program allegedly sent a letter to its membership, obtained by Jezebel, issuing clarification that all but scraps the aforementioned exclusion clause: “Any Member who uses a firearm or other legal weapon in justified self-defense or defense of another is eligible for coverage, regardless of the specific charges they face, including charges alleging domestic violence.”
U.S. Law Shield did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One part of the letter sure makes it sound like U.S. Law Shield’s members were asking a lot about its terms for members accused of domestic violence: “We are often asked about the domestic violence exclusion,” it states. Further in the letter, the program attempts to clarify that the amendment to its terms is meant to support “victims” who “are often unjustly forced into the legal system where they await a challenging and lengthy process just to clear their name.” In reality, of course, domestic violence victims are far more likely to be harmed by guns and gun violence. And research—in addition to a recent, highly publicized domestic violence trial—shows how easy it is for abusers to frame themselves as the victim in domestic violence incidents. A 2015 study found 24 percent of women who have called the police to report intimate partner violence said that they themselves were arrested or threatened with arrest.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, more than half of all mass shootings in the last decade have been carried out by a perpetrator who shot a current or former intimate partner or family member amid their rampage. Each month, 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner—it certainly doesn’t help that the boyfriend loophole allows individuals with domestic abuse convictions to obtain guns, if they weren’t married to their victim.
Budd’s store, ProShots, notably may be advertising U.S. Law Shield insurance as part of its advertising program for compensation. The store—and Budd’s U.S. Senate campaign—did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Ironically enough, Budd identifies as “pro-life” and is endorsed by the National Right to Life.
With midterm elections just weeks away, gun violence may be front-of-mind for voters, following a year that saw the horrific Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting, and a string of others in Buffalo, New York; Sacramento, California; Highland Park, Illinois; and more. Yet, in North Carolina’s race for U.S. Senate, one of the candidates seems more interested in helping gun-owning abusers advocate for themselves than in preventing the inevitable next mass shooting—statistically likely to be perpetrated by a domestic abuser.