After days of waiting with no reply from billionaire Bill Gates in his challenge to debate the merits, or lack thereof, of Initiative 594, gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb today upped the ante, offering to face both Gates and anti-gun former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire backing the initiative.
Gates and Bloomberg have each added more than $1 million apiece to the I-594 campaign coffer. That war chest is overflowing with money, yet the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) over the weekend appealed for $3 donations to battle the first series of advertisements being run to support rival Initiative 591.
The Seattle Times editorial board claims this about I-591: “It’s hard to discern whether the mushy vague language of the brief initiative is a product of poor writing — or entirely the point.” Where is this “mushy, vague language?” It certainly isn’t found in the two-sentence measure, which explains:
- It is unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process.
- It is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.
Gottlieb told this column that he is serious, though the tone of his press release this morning may seem tongue-in-cheek. He said he is willing to loan Gates, the Microsoft founder, an Apple iPhone so that, in the event Gates can’t answer a question, he can consult an Apple service called Siri. That’s a voice-activated “personal assistant and knowledge navigator” offered with Apple’s IOS-7, according to a Wikipedia description.
And there are serious questions, said Gottlieb, that need to be answered by the very people financing the 18-page gun control measure. He rattled some of them off
“The public needs to know,” he said, “why Gates supports doubling the state waiting period to get a firearm for personal protection. They need to know why I-594 criminalizes the lawful practice of loaning firearms to friends for hunting or target practice. They need to know why I-594 would prevent loaning a handgun to your sister-in-law for self-defense. They need to know why the initiative would prevent a police officer from loaning a firearm to a fellow officer.
“Voters also need to know why no state law enforcement group has endorsed I-594, and why it is opposed by two major statewide police groups, the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association, which both endorse the rival Initiative 591,” Gottlieb continued. “These are questions the media need to ask so they can inform the public of what’s really in the 18-page gun control measure that Gates and Bloomberg support.”
The veteran gun rights advocate also focused on Bloomberg, who has defended New York City’s exorbitant $340 permit fee, on top of a $90 background check fee just to keep a firearm in one’s own residence. These permits do not allow anyone to carry a firearm in public for personal protection, but they do tend to put gun ownership somewhat in the realm of the financial elite.
As a last dig at the gap between wealthy elitists such as Gates and Bloomberg, and the average citizens for whom I-594 would create some financial hurdles, such as background checks on gun loans that could run $35 to $50 each, not only to lend a firearm but to get it back, Gottlieb asked for a quick reply. He wants to rent a facility large enough to handle “their armies of bodyguards” while still allowing room for the general public.