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Gun rights backers to begin airing ads as anti-gunners play Chicken Little

Washington State backers of Initiative 591, which prohibits gun confiscation without due process and requires background checks to comply with a uniform national standard, will begin airing advertisements for their measure on Monday, the Associated Press is reporting today.

The I-591 campaign is distributing yard signs, noting that the measure is supported by rank-and-file law enforcement.
Dave Workman

The advertisement will stress the fact that I-591 is supported by rank-and-file law enforcement and two of the state’s largest and most respected law enforcement organizations, the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) and Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (WSLEFIA). Seven county sheriffs are also supporting the measure.

According to Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR) campaign, radio ads will run on stations in Olympia, Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver. Also, 30-second television spots are scheduled to run statewide on FOX News, and in western Washington on CNBC, CNN and HLN, the story said.

Gottlieb told Examiner that he also has brand new yard signs that will be showing up across the state. Grassroots activists are already calling his Bellevue office, requesting signs and bumper stickers. The bumper stickers have been in circulation for about a month, all over the state.

Earlier today, a fund-raising e-mail from the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which supports the competing Initiative 594 and has gotten huge financial support from Seattle-area billionaires, gave something of a “Chicken Little – Sky is Falling” message to its supporters. I-594 Campaign Manager Zach Silk is “worried” that the so-called “gun lobby” is preparing to flood the state with “misinformation” about the 18-page gun control measure as he alleges happened with an earlier voter backlash against a 1997 gun control initiative.

Silk is asking for token donations of $3 apiece from as many people as possible, despite the fact that right now, according to Public Disclosure Commission reports, WAGR has raised six times as much money as the grassroots I-591 coalition. Gottlieb, on the other hand, issued a fund raising plea last night announcing the launch of his advertisements, noting, “We need your help to not only keep the ads running, but expand the number of stations carrying it in the second week of September. We need to raise the money to make that advertising buy no later than Tuesday of next week.”

Traditionally, campaigns like this kick into high gear immediately following the Labor Day weekend. The WAGR funding appeal appears designed merely to wake up their base, which certainly doesn’t need the money after Bill and Melinda Gates last Friday donated $1 million to their campaign.

Gates’ mammoth contribution prompted Gottlieb to yesterday publicly challenge the Microsoft founder to a debate on the gun control measure. Both WACOPS and WSLEFIA are on record opposing I-594, a fact that has not gained much media attention.

Silk is quoted by the AP, saying, “We anticipate that we’ll be very competitive as we get into the rest of this campaign.” That seems disingenuous, considering that independent money is already financing a series of pro-background check ads from the Center for Gun Responsibility. Those ads do not name either initiative.

POGR is spending a reported $36,000 on the ads, and needs to raise a bundle to keep them on the air. Gottlieb realizes he is up against a well-financed juggernaut, which has already raised more money than was spent in 1997 to defeat Initiative 676, a draconian gun control measure that Silk acknowledges, “was sailing to victory with 65% support and everyone thought they couldn’t lose. But then, after Labor Day, the gun lobby flooded the state with misleading TV ads and outspent the pro-reform supporters FOUR TO ONE. And Initiative 676 went down in flames -- losing 71% to 29%.”

“Please help by making a much needed contribution as soon as possible,” Gottlieb says in his e-mail. “I don’t have to tell you what we’re up against.”