A new book scheduled for release next week reportedly says that the Obama administration preferred “politics over policy” when it “ignored a willingness by the gun lobby to help in the fight against illegal guns and gun violence,” the Washington Examiner – no connection to this column – is reporting today in a preview.
It would hardly be the first time that anti-gunners in or out of government have dismissed an opportunity to sit down with gun rights advocates. The same sort of thing was reported earlier this year by the Seattle Times in a story about Initiative 594’s chief financial backer Nick Hanauer, when he apparently blew off a chance to talk about gun policy with Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
There should be no small amount of public interest in these disclosures, because they demonstrate that it is not the firearms community that appears fixated and inflexible, but the administration and gun prohibitionists. What’s better for the country, divisive politics or productive discourse?
Today, Gottlieb is leading the underdog effort to pass Initiative 591, a simple effort to make sure guns cannot be confiscated by government without due process, and that background checks done in Washington must comply with a uniform national standard. Hanauer is the biggest donor to Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure pushing so-called “universal background checks” that is not only opposed by gun owners and hunters, but also by two of the state’s most prominent law enforcement organizations.
The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association both oppose I-594 and support I-591. Joe Dawson, President of the Washington State Retired Deputy Sheriffs & Police Officers Association (WSRDSPOA), has also endorsed I-591, and so has Phil Shave, retired chief of law enforcement for Washington State Parks.
The new book is titled “The Future of the Gun,” by New York Times bestselling author Frank Miniter. According to the Washington Examiner’s veteran political writer Paul Bedard, the Obama administration “likely (missed) any chance of a historic deal” on gun-related violent crime. He writes that “two of the country’s leading gun lobbies stood ready to work with the White House, but instead were pushed away by an administration that wrongly thought the country was on their side in banning assault weapons.”
The two firearms groups were the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation. When representatives of those groups eventually were invited to sit down, sources told Examiner at the time last year that instead of a conversation, they were essentially given a lecture by Vice President Joe Biden.
For many years, the portrait of an unbending, tone-deaf “gun lobby” has been promulgated by gun prohibitionists and their media cheerleaders. Gottlieb took a lot of heat for trying to negotiate background check reform legislation at the federal and state levels in 2013, both times pulling out when it became clear that nobody was interested in compromise, but only telling gun owners to give something up.
On one hand, the Obama White House essentially disregards the NRA and NSSF with lip service, and on the other, Hanauer rejected a sit-down with Gottlieb. Here’s how the Seattle Times described it in February:
“Alan Gottlieb, a prominent Bellevue Second Amendment activist, said he reached out to Hanauer through an intermediary to see if he’d discuss ways to make his background-check initiative more palatable to gun-rights advocates.
“Hanauer wasn’t interested,” the Times reported. “I thought his response was a little arrogant,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t think he has any interest in meeting with people who don’t share his views.”
“Gottlieb is running a competing gun measure on the November ballot. Initiative 591 would prohibit Washington state from adopting any gun background-check standards stricter than federal law.
“Hanauer said by the time Gottlieb reached out, initiative backers were ‘on a fast track’ to file the measure,” the Times said. “He added that since Gottlieb has spent his career pushing pro-gun laws, he ‘was not someone we considered seriously’ as a source for advice’.”