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Bloomberg group adds $30K to Washington gun control war chest

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Anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns contributed $30,000 last month to Initiative 594, the 17-page gun control measure that today is being touted by the Daily Olympian in an editorial that criticizes competing Initiative 591 for its potential to become “a highly charged emotional campaign funded by the NRA and other outside interests…”

Examiner learned of the MAIG contribution yesterday with the latest update on I-594 contributions from the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Bloomberg’s group, based in New York, falls under the definition of “outside interests.”

The disclosure underscores a question this column asked on Dec. 31 as Bloomberg left office. That column continues to draw reader attention.

Editorial references to the National Rifle Association amount to a bogeyman strategy because the NRA has so far not been involved with I-591, nor given a penny to its campaign. Those NRA references underscore the newspaper’s feigned dread that the battle between Washington’s dueling initiatives “has the potential to turn nasty.” Evidently, it already has.

While the editorial describes I-594 as being “backed by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a coalition of citizens and organizations,” it says nothing about I-591 being almost entirely a grassroots enterprise supported by Protect Our Gun Rights. That coalition includes largely blue collar gun owners, hunters, collectors, competitors and law enforcement professionals. Organizations backing the measure include the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Washington State Rifle & Pistol Association, Hunters Heritage Council, Washington Arms Collectors and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. At last check, all of those organizations represented tens of thousands of citizens.

As is widely known, except perhaps by the Daily O’s editorial board, the NRA was rather busy elsewhere around the country last year while signatures were being gathered in Washington state. NRA financially supported gun rights political efforts in Colorado and other states. If the NRA does enter the initiative fray, Northwest gun control extremists may ultimately be reminded that they should be careful what they ask for, or imagine. The last time NRA weighed in on a gun control initiative effort here was in 1997 with I-676, the massive gun control scheme disguised as a "safe storage" measure. When the votes were counted, I-676 was crushed.

The editorial also asserts that a provision in I-591 preventing government gun confiscation without due process is “an NRA-fueled red herring scare tactic.” Not so for anyone who remembers the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where more than 1,100 firearms were seized without warrants or probable cause, or anything remotely resembling due process. The outrage spawned a book. It took a federal lawsuit by the NRA and Bellevue’s Second Amendment Foundation to stop those confiscations.

Washington doesn’t have hurricanes, but it does occasionally have earthquakes, and predictions of “the big one” have been floating around for decades, so a major temblor is probably overdue. In such a catastrophe, there might be no emergency services for some period, and survivors would literally be on their own. That is the kind of environment where a governor or a mayor – say someone with an anti-gun voting record in Congress or the state legislature – might want to disarm people at the very time they need firearms to protect themselves from looters and other criminals.

The Daily Olympian’s double-mention of the NRA in a campaign with which it is so far not involved is a “red herring scare tactic” of its own; an attempt to characterize I-591 as something other than a bonafide grassroots campaign against the well-financed WAGR, which – beyond the big bucks from Bloomberg’s MAIG group – is largely financed by wealthy Seattle-area elitists.

According to PDC reports, I-594 has raised a total of $1,435,263.73 and spent $1,338,440.47. On the other hand, I-591 backers have raised $705,827.59 and spent $697,446.83, or roughly half of the money reported by the gun control effort, yet they gathered as many, if not more petition signatures. A look at the PDC reports show the vast majority of I-594 money is coming from Seattle-area contributors. Contributions to I-591 have come from all over the state, and one $35 donation came from Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Olympia’s newspaper is not alone this week in possible misrepresentations. Two days ago, Bloomberg News’ Francis Wilkinson wrote, “Gun-rights activists won the sanction of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, when an individual right to possess firearms was established for the first time…” Gun rights advocates would argue that the individual right was established for the first time when the constitution, with its Bill of Rights, was ratified more than 200 years ago. The high court in 2008 merely had to remind government and gun prohibitionists that the Second Amendment protects and affirms that individual right after decades of erosion.

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