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Political battle lines being drawn as SHOT Show looms

Alan Gottlieb points to a poster that reveals some interesting things about Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Alan Gottlieb points to a poster that reveals some interesting things about Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.Dave Workman

The weather in Las Vegas, where the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) opens Tuesday, is balmy compared to much of the nation, but today’s edition of USA Today indicated that things are about to heat up for the firearms industry and gun rights advocates from across the country who are gathering here.

They include some folks from the WaGuns forum, the Washington Arms Collectors, National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and the proverbial "everybody who is anybody" in the firearms industry.

Yesterday, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and a leading spokesman for Protect Our Gun Rights, the coalition pushing Initiative 591 in Washington State, sent out an e-mail appeal for contributions. That money, he said, is necessary “so we can continue our fight against Bloomberg and his cronies.”

He was alluding to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group that last month donated $30,000 to the Initiative 594 campaign, as this column reported. I-594 is the 17-page gun control measure that will be submitted to the Washington State Legislature shortly, and likely wind up on the ballot, squaring off against I-591.

Buried in that USA Today story was this: "Mayors Against Illegal Guns will also be analyzing data and advertising in places like New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont and Maine..." This amounts to a red flare for activists in those seven states, and it appears the Pacific Northwest is very high on MAIG's wish list. Take a look at this thread on the Northwest Firearms forum.

The dueling initiatives may be one hotspot in this year’s elections, but not the only one, the USA Today story hinted. That newspaper quoted Gottlieb about the initiative campaign. Gottlieb is one of the people who will be here in Las Vegas for the SHOT Show, and while the main focus of this four-day event is business, the political battles ahead are just below the surface, and on everyone’s mind.

Today this column chatted informally with several industry folks who noted, among other things, that public demand for ammunition and reloading components remains high and that increasing numbers of women are entering the shooting community, for several reasons.

Yesterday’s Montgomery, Ala. Advertiser reported on Gallup poll data that shows “the percentage of American women who own a firearm nearly doubled from 2005-2011, rising from 13 percent to 23 percent.”

“In August,” the newspaper said, “the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported that 37 percent of new target shooters are female, though they comprise only 22 percent of the established target-shooting population.”

By no small coincidence, the SHOT Show is a product of the NSSF, the industry umbrella group that has also grown considerably over the past several years.

While the show opens Tuesday, firearms writers will gather Monday at a gun range outside of Las Vegas for the annual “Media Day at the Range,” where they get to sample new firearms and ammunition, and more importantly, will be comparing notes about the battles looming on the horizon.

This column will be reporting from the SHOT Show floor throughout the week.

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