This page is being edited to reflect what I have done since 2015. Update coming very soon!
Please click on a question to be linked to my answer. Pictures do not express an endorsement of Timothy Knight.
Snow shoeing in the Colorado backcountry. Like my father, I have had a lifelong appreciation of the great outdoors and sharing it with others.
Do you believe that the Constitution acknowledges rights of all American citizens?
Yes. Period. Our national Constitution, one of the most brilliant charters ever created, enshrines an American’s rights from birth or naturalization. However, experience has taught us that a right unprotected is a right lost and that, left to their own devices, many legislators and administrators at all levels of government will choose to do what is convenient or profitable rather than ask themselves, “Is what I am doing Constitutional?”
The Constitution is supposed to protect everyone in the Republic and it would help if more of those who have solemnly sworn to uphold and defend it – those passing or enforcing laws, or ruling on legislation - actually read it. They do not get to choose which rights they like and ignore the rest. If they don’t like the Constitution, they can change it through the prescribed method. Until then, it is the law of our land and must be honored by every governmental body from town councils to our employees in Washington, D.C..
It’s also worth saying that if we do not stand up and participate in our Republic we are going to lose it. When it is not possible to proactively protect our rights, those infringing upon them and imposing legislative and executive tyranny must be held accountable by our citizens, as seen in the recent Colorado recall elections and a myriad of lawsuits. The defense of liberty will never be easy or fair but chipping away at infringements is part of bearing the burden of supporting the freedoms we enjoy.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it." - Robert A. Heinlein
What gun control laws would you consider constitutional, if any?
Laws regarding who may possess firearms are somewhat more rational than those that simply regulate inanimate objects and I believe that these are Constitutional restrictions. However, there is a grey area here as well. According to 18 U.S.C. § 922(d), "prohibited persons" includes anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year, yet sentencing guidelines change frequently. The group includes users of illegal drugs, yet marijuana is legal in some states but not others. There is a prohibition against illegal aliens possessing firearms but several Supreme Court rulings have held that such individuals are still protected by the First, Fifth and Fourteen Amendments of the same Constitution. And, once it is accepted that one class of citizens is less equal than others, that class can be expanded legislatively until it encompasses more and more of us. We need to tread with care here.
Sean Maloney (NRA BOD) and myself at the Iowa State capitol on our 2nd Shift 4 Liberty Tour (October, 2014) This was before either Sean or I were on the NRA Board of Directors.
What gun control laws do you consider to be unconstitutional?
There are over 20,000 state and federal gun laws that I would consider unconstitutional, most of which concern the possession or carry of a firearm in certain locations, states or municipalities. I could not possibly list them all but I'll provide a few examples.
Most states require a citizen to pay a registration and/or background check fee in order to obtain a license to own a gun or a permit to carry one. Yet Murdock vs Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1942) ruled that "[a] state cannot impose a license, tax or fee on a constitutionally protected right." Further, the majority opinion in Follett vs. Town of McCormick, S.C., 321 U.S. 573 (1944) included the observation that “to say that… citizens may be subject to general taxation does not mean that they can be required to pay a tax for the exercise of that which the First Amendment has made a high constitutional privilege.” I believe that this equally applies to Second Amendment rights, further supporting Murdock’s statement.
Some states, cities, counties and other adminstrative governments impose ammunition or magazine restrictions on law-abiding citizens. New Jersey, for instance, allows the purchase of hollowpoint ammunition but restricts its possession to the point where it is illegal to carry it on one's person for defensive use. In Washington, D. C., the CEO of an asset management company was recently convicted of a "gun offense" for the alleged crime of possessing a handful of projectiles for his black-powder muzzleloading rifle. And of course, New York had already made it illegal to possess a magazine exceeding an arbitrarily-selected limit and has now made things worse with their recently-enacted "SAFE Act," currently being fought in the courts.
Saying that you are not infringing on a citizen's Second Amendment rights because you are "only" restricting their ability to feed the guns they own is absurd, disingenuous and an insult to citizens' intelligence. It's the equivalent of saying that one can own a car but "cannot affix more than two tires at any given time," or requiring EPA approval to put gas in the tank.
I consider any ban or restriction on the bearing of firearms, possession of ammunition or capacity of magazines by law-abiding citizens to be an unnecessary and unconstitutional burden. As a private citizen, I have already challenged several of these unjust laws and will continue to do so at every turn.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) was very kind of set up a rare tour of the Mossberg manufacturing facility on our 2014 2nd Shift 4 Liberty Tour. Mossberg is a massive supporter of the 2nd Amendment and we were honored to get to meet them. Pictured: Sean Maloney (OH), Timothy Knight (CO), Mossberg official (yeah we know who he is), Alexander Roubian (NJ) and Judson "Fravor" Crossland (CO). Picture does not imply endorsement of Timothy Knight.
Do you believe that additional gun control laws would result in reduced criminal activity and violence?
Absolutely not. It seems that we keep passing new laws when current laws more than suffice. It is already illegal to kill someone. Why then pass a law making it somehow "more illegal" based on a killer's motives or implement of murder? If the initial illegality failed to make an impression, will making redundant laws inspire criminal restraint?
Laws, by definition, affect only the law abiding and citizens are already in the position of needing to take legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court simply to exercise their Constitutionally-protected rights. Adding to the already bloated morass of firearm-related laws serves only to hinder or intimidate gun owners and to demonize firearms.
September 2014 NRA J.Littlefield Grassoots Award
.Left to right: Jim Porter, NRA President in 2014; Victor Head (Pueblo Freedom and Rights); Tim Knight (Basic Freedom Defense Fund; Luke Wagner (BFDF); Erik Groves, (BFDF attorney); Keith Coniglio (BFDF); Chris Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director. Picture does not imply endorsement of Timothy Knight
Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for those seeking to purchase guns?
Few people would say that they want convicted criminals or users of illegal drugs to be armed but who defines those terms? Convicted felons lose most of their rights - but have them restored on completion of their sentences. It is now perfectly legal to openly purchase and use marijuana in Colorado but not in neighboring Nebraska. If a Colorado citizens stated that they smoked pot, would a Federal background check allow them to buy a gun in Colorado but deny approval in Nebraska?
Further, background checks don't actually stop anyone with ill intent. Multiple studies and surveys underscore that criminals don’t purchase guns, they steal them. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of almost all mass-killings - both Fort Hood attackers, the Arapahoe High School shooter, the murderer at the Washington Navy Yard, the Virginia Tech shooter, The Long Island Railroad Massacre killer - passed their background checks.
Buyers that fail a background check simply walk away without facing any consequences for their attempted crime (assuming they were not denied in error and approved after demanding further investigation). Given that they would have just provided all information necessary to find and question them, one might expect some follow up yet none is required or performed.
There is no provision for them in the Second Amendment; they are ineffective; they are a burden on gun purchasers and insulting, presuming that innocence must be proven before a right can be exercised. They may currently be the law of the land but I cannot say that I support a placebo.
The Magnificent Seven
The men who were tired of the legislative tyranny in Colorado and whom everyone else followed. History might try and record others as having been the spark. Others made their marks & still others became famous or even took credit for their work. But these political novices, strangers to each other before but who made 137 years of Colorado history by accomplishing the impossible: recalling John Morse, President of the Colorado Senate. Some of these men have chosen to remain private individuals. The road paved by these men by 2014 had removed four Colorado legislators and lit a spark for Liberty for a nation.
Do you support requiring citizens to first meet licensing requirements before purchasing, possessing or carrying a firearm?
I oppose licensing requirements, as rights do not have a license or a tax. Clearly others disagree and I consider it my work to empower others to chip away at these restrictions. The Second Amendment is the foundation of our liberty as Americans and if it is gone, the rest of the rights enshrined in the Constitution loses their protection. Rather than adding requirements to our right, communities should be encouraging its exercise.
Do you support mandatory training for citizens to purchase, possess or carry a firearm?
No, I do not support mandatory training. No other right requires such training and, once made mandatory, those requirements can be adjusted incrementally until all but the politically connected could meet them.
That being said, rights do require understanding of how ones actions affect others. Possession of a tool does not equal competence with it and the same can be said of firearms. I spent much of my childhood shooting under well-qualified supervision and as an adult I sought some of the world's best-known experts to improve my understanding. I highly recommend that anyone who assumes the mighty responsibility that comes with the right to bear arms voluntarily seek qualified training.
Do you support the practice known as “Constitutional Carry” which provides that any peaceable citizen may carry a concealed firearm without a permit?
Yes I do. Several states with long-standing cultures of firearms ownership (Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska and Vermont) have reinforced the constitutionally expressed understanding of the right to bear arms by removing barriers to Constitutional Carry. While I respect the idea of states' sovereign rights, it seems irrational and objectionable that some states are "less free" than others. I will be working to help other states' legislators - and citizens - understand how this practice benefits their communities and encourages both liberty and security rather than treating the two as mutually exclusive conditions.
What is your position on the practice of open carry?
I agree with open carry and do practice it in some places, however I recognize that it can cause problems due to misconceptions and mixed perceptions. Having been around firearms my whole life, I notice when someone is openly carrying one but do not necessarily consider them a threat. Their behavior with that firearm determines my behavior towards them. However, those who have been immersed in a firearms-restrictive culture consider carrying a gun as the purview of law enforcement, the military or criminals rather than as an individual right. The mere sight of a gun without a badge or uniform can cause shock or alarm.
Such perceptions are not justification for infringing upon the rights of free citizens but neither should they be ignored by the gun owning community. While the word "compromise" has become a euphemism for "give up your rights," I believe there is room for it here so long as it is on an individual and not legislative basis. I do not believe in or support laws that restrict the individual right to openly carry a legally-owned firearm. However, I believe that fellow gun owners should seek to educate those who are alarmed by it rather than take a combative, "It's my right so deal with it" stance that only serves to reinforce stereotypes.
Encounters with fellow citizens who do not come from a "gun world" are opportunities to illustrate that guns don’t “just go off” or jump out of holsters and that the presence of a firearm does not alter the normalcy of anyone's day. It's an expression of a Constitutional right, as much as wearing a t-shirt with a political slogan or religious image. It's a chance to plant a small seed of liberty in the mind of someone who may not have seen such freedom before and may never do so again. Exercise your right but remember to also see it as an opportunity to educate and grow our numbers.
Do you believe that Americans have a right to own and use "assault weapons" and other such military-pattern firearms?
Yes, though the former is a misnomer. The often vilified and fictitiously named “assault weapon” may resemble rifles fielded as weapons of war but, in fact, not a single army in the world issues semi-automatic-only rifles for combat use. A semi-automatic AR-15 or semi-automatic AK-47 is no more or less lethal than any hunter's semi-automatic deer rifle - all fire one round for each pull of the trigger. When politicians hold press conferences to vilify an inanimate object as opposed to addressing societal problems, we should all be suspicious of their motives.
If elected to the NRA's Board of Directors, would you focus on any particular gun laws to either propose for passage or attempt to repeal? (being edited currently)
Almost all Federal and state legislation in regards to “gun free schools” have epically failed our children. More laws have done nothing to protect them. I will work to see responsible local solutions put in place to protect our children and all legislation that hinders our children’s safety removed. Good intentions are not protecting our children. It's time for new plans.
Do you support or oppose citizens engaging in acts of civil disobedience over gun laws?
This is actually a fairly easy question for me to answer. I not only support the idea of engaging in civil protest over infringement of Constitutional rights, I believe it is a citizen's duty to the Republic to do so. I founded the successful Colorado recall movement, consulted on the fledgling California recall movement (rendered temporarily moot by the Federal corruption investigation of several state legislators) and provided guidance and advice on the recall movement currently being explored in New Jersey.
I was moved to action by what I felt was blatant legislative tyranny, with legislators listening solely to their political party leadership while utterly disregarding the outpouring of opposition from the citizenry. There was no conversation, there was no discussion, there was no respect for citizen input. There was only a kangaroo court established for public comment and then a steamrolling of our rights that included last-second changes to established protocols to dilute continued public testimony against their game plan.
This type of behavior is unacceptable in our Republic. I will do whatever I am able in order to oppose it where it exists and I would ask all free citizens to do the same.
What improvements would you seek to make as a member of the NRA Board?(being edited)
As is true of every civil rights organization or advocacy group, the NRA needs to be run like both a business and a political machine (NRA-ILA), which complicates its effectiveness. Finding a balance is always a struggle, but any good organization always strives for improvement.
The first area of improvement must be awakening our members to their individual responsibility to protect our rights. Every generation removed from our nation's founding and its struggle for freedom has been harder to convince that the gift we were given needs to be diligently and constantly protected. With our busy and challenging lives, many citizens are not engaging or they are simply walking away, leaving the Republic for others to “manage.” Too many have given their right by proxy to some organization protect. NRA members - and those who should be NRA members - are no different.
The very recent successful Colorado recalls have invigorated Second Amendment activism and the leadership of the NRA & the NRA-ILA see it. Director Chris Cox himself has, on several occasions, mentioned in his monthly articles that members need to take the Colorado grassroots example and stand up for their rights. It is not enough for NRA members to "chip in a few bucks" to the NRA-ILA and expect them to handle every challenge around the nation. It is time to stand as individual citizens; to pay your dues but stay involved locally.
Next, the NRA needs to do a better job of empowering those members who are willing to rise to the challenge and support our rights. Be under no illusion that that is easy work either. Getting people beyond strong words and business card swapping is difficult and I believe the NRA needs to improve its grassroots programs, then advertise and recruit for them, providing better direction and training in political activism.
The organization also needs to perform a better analysis of their allies and state affiliates. The need to identify local partners who know the landscape and are effective at communicating to their community versus those who merely see themselves as "just shooting clubs" who passively watch from the sidelines.
How accurate do you believe the NRA political rating system to be and, if inaccurate, what new standards would you attempt to implement?
I think that the current NRA rating system is not perfect but, while it focuses only on a single topic, it works to serve our members' understanding of the stance of lawmakers and candidates. Like any rating system, those who are rated can change their minds or choose a different political direction. Some NRA members are not fans of Senator Harry Reid, and until recently he had remained openly supportive of Second Amendment. He is giving many pause with his new call for “universal background checks” which will in effect create national gun registration. Turning on the 2nd Amendment did not work out well in 2013 for Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia either. He had been “A” rated before he proposed the same kind of ill-conceived background checks on gun sales.
Politicians can often get caught up in public emotions and both forget their oaths and responsibility to defend the Constitution. We as citizens and members of the NRA must always keep the pressure on all politicians.
Do agree with the NRA’s new school safety program known as the “National School Shield?”(being edited to reflect my involement in this program)
Yes. The very fact that the NRA is addressing a crisis that society has chosen to disregard for decades - our schoolchildren being left unprotected - is very promising. Solutions are what our children need and the NRA is the sole national voice offering to make a real difference.
No other organization or Federal program has offered real solutions and continued tragedies prove to me that a change is needed. While some progress has been made in some localities, others in state capitols and Washington, D.C. merely pass more hollow laws which have not stopped tragic school shootings. Our children deserve at least the same protection we afford our money, dignitaries, politicians and airplanes.
Having policies and plans that fit the local needs and resources is clearly the best plan. We must be careful not to create some Federal "one size fits all" solution and are better off creating a program that helps each school and district find the best, most effective solution for its needs. The NRA National Shield Program is working to do just this with no public funding.
Why are you seeking a petition of the members rather than the approval of the nominating committee for the 2015 ballot? (2018: being Edited to reflect that I am runnig both member petition andI am seeking the nominating Commitee's recommendation as well)
I believe that the members of the National Rifle Association are the most important part of the Association and I will always seek their approval by way of a member nomination while serving on the Board. Rarely do people who only seek such “nomination from the members” gain a Board seat but I never take the easy way out and NRA members deserve that degree of respect if I am asking them for support. They have already seen my efforts (please read my bio) and I hope that I can earn both their nomination and later their vote on the 2015 ballot.
As for the NRA nominating committee, I would consider it an honor to have proven myself to our current Board members but I have not yet had the opportunity to work with many of them and so I have not sought the committee’s recommendation. Though I would gladly welcome their individual support, they are limited to recommending twenty-five people and I believe I am unlikely draw approval away from an established board member.
Being effective in justifying my message and gaining member nomination will be hard work but worth doing. I would be humbled and honored to serve and would do so tirelessly - our Republic deserves nothing less. I hope both the NRA's members and leadership can see the strength of my work for the Second Amendment and envision the success I can bring our Association as a ceaseless and effective proponent.
If elected, will NRA members have a means of contacting you to express their views and concerns? Will you offer a means of asking questions via email?
Absolutely. Service is not always easy work but listening to those you represent is vital to growth and success and even negative comments can help improve your thought process.
I will maintain a PO Box for members' letters for as long as I remain on the NRA Board of Directors. The address will be openly published on my website, Knight4NRA.com, and will be updated should any changes be needed. Currently that address is:
200 W. Martin Luther King Blvd
Chattanooga TN 37402
I considered accepting email as well but my experience with our recalls showed me that it's all too easy to inundate a mail server with meaningless (and often nasty) junk from anonymous, throw-away email accounts. This sea of spam ends up drowning out legitimate communications, making those with real questions and concerns feel ignored and excluded. I feel that a person passionate or inquisitive enough about an issue won't see it as too inconvenient to write or type a letter and commit to the cost of a stamp.
Anyone can talk a good game when seeking a position. How do we know that you'll follow through and not simply follow the prevailing winds of NRA management?(2018: being edited to reflect that I have and will continue to make a difference).
I can only answer this question based on what I have done and my promise that my habits and professionalism will continue. As previously mentioned, I founded Colorado's recall movement and have been involved with other recall campaigns through the nation. I am not one for idle talk.
As a Board member, it would be my role to help define the organization's direction and correct errors but, more importantly, it would place me in a position to be a strong voice of opposition and head off problems before they become policy.