Two days after the Seattle Times announced that Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $1 million to the Initiative 594 campaign, Bellevue gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, who opposes the measure, has today publicly challenged the billionaire Microsoft founder to a public debate.
Gottlieb issued his challenge Wednesday morning, demanding that Gates “Put his mouth where his money is!”
“It’s one thing to be for background checks,” said Gottlieb, who is chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and a leading spokesman for Initiative 591. “But, I-594 is poorly written bad law, and all the money in the world won’t make it better.”
The slap was aimed not only at Gates, but at other Seattle-area wealthy elitists who are supporting the 18-page gun control initiative. That list includes Microsoft alumni Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer, and investment capitalist Nick Hanauer. Coincidentally, liberal Seattle P-I.com columnist Joel Connelly unloaded on his Facebook page on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for a report on I-594 that also emphasized the Gates donation.
Instead, Connelly contended that reports recalled “when more than 800 (citizens) marched from St Mark's to St. James after Newtown.” He has faithfully covered the I-594 effort from that perspective, calling it the “genuine popular gun safety movement that has grown up in state.” Connelly has been very good about reporting developments in the campaign, and his ear is clearly on what the gun control crowd is up to.
However, Gottlieb and his colleagues in the gun rights community would be quick to explain that it’s not a “gun safety” movement, but a gun control movement. And it clearly is based in liberal Seattle and along the I-5 corridor.
Gottlieb’s challenge raises some serious issues. This campaign has clearly become an issue of class warfare. As noted recently by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the overwhelming financial support for the initiative is coming from ten Seattle-area zip codes. A lot of five-figure contributions have come from those enclaves, which may be light years away philosophically from the rest of Washington State.
The veteran gun rights activist, who is supporting Initiative 591 – a simple one-page measure that prevents government gun confiscation without due process and requires background checks in Washington State to comply with a uniform national standard – also used the opportunity to remind people that I-594 is opposed by rank-and-file law enforcement organizations representing more than 7,500 police and sheriffs’ deputies.
In addition, state’s sportsmen and women, competitors and gun collectors are lining up against the gun control scheme. Their message, however, is being overwhelmed by the financial juggernaut that has been launched by the $6 million-strong Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and an independent campaign supporting background checks, launched by the Center for Gun Responsibility earlier this month. Much of the money came from Hanauer.
Lest anyone think this is a publicity stunt, Gottlieb told Examiner he is absolutely serious. He has been fighting an uphill battle to prevent Washington gun owners from being overwhelmed by regulations that criminalize common activities such as loaning firearms to friends or in-laws without expensive bureaucratic red tape that seems designed more to entrap honest citizens than prevent crimes and catch criminals.
“Gates should...make sure that if he accepts, his bodyguards do not loan each other firearms, because that would be prohibited under the language of the gun control initiative he’s funding,” Gottlieb said in his press release. “I won’t bring bodyguards, because I don’t have any. My defense is the facts.”