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Washington’s ‘dueling initiatives’ story goes national

The Washington Post confirms today that Michael Bloomberg's "Everytown for Gun Safety" now backs a gun control proposal in Washington state.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Today’s Washington Post blog takes a hard look at Washington State’s dueling initiatives, and the story includes a contradiction that perhaps only Northwest gun rights activists might spot.

Reporter Allison Griner quotes unidentified backers of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure pushing so-called “universal background checks,” who insist that concerns about big money from out-of-state supporting the initiative are all wrong. “It’s some pretty crazy, tinfoil hat, conspiracy theory stuff,” they say, according to the story.

A few paragraphs later, Griner accurately notes that among the initiative supporters is Michael Bloomberg’s New York-based group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Then she adds, “The mayors group has since merged with another prominent gun reform group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to create Everytown for Gun Safety. As of July 1, Everytown has set up an ‘Action Fund for I-594’.” Everytown is also based in New York, and Bloomberg – a New York resident – is bankrolling the group.

That looks like out-of-state money to Evergreen State gun owners, many of whom gathered over the weekend at the big Puyallup gun show, sponsored by the Washington Arms Collectors. Many more received an e-mail questionnaire from the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation that asked the following questions:

  • Do you support former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg spending $50 million to attack your gun rights?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Do you want NYC style anti-gun rights laws in our state of Washington?
  • Yes
  • No

Now that the fight is getting national attention, perhaps more people will make an effort to understand the conflicting issues. Up against I-594 and its big money from wealthy elites in the Seattle area is Initiative 591, a simple one-page measure that will require background checks done in Washington to comply with a uniform national standard. That means no cumbersome checks for merely loaning a firearm to a buddy for hunting, or allowing a friend to use a firearm somewhere that is not a certified gun range.

Many of the same activists who got the SAF questionnaire got an e-mail from Protect Our Gun Rights, the grassroots coalition behind I-591, last week. That message was an appeal for contributions because POGR is way behind financially, as gun owners do not have wealthy elitist sugar daddies kicking in five- and six-figure contributions that they believe will buy the results of an election.

SAF’s sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right To Keep and Bear Arms, is part of the POGR coalition. CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb is the leading I-591 campaign spokesman. The National Rifle Association has taken no position on I-591, and is running its own program to oppose I-594.

The Washington Post story suggested, “With gun debate heavyweights and big-name backers like Bill Gates entering the fray, the outcome of this standoff could have national implications.” That’s putting it mildly.

On Saturday at the gun show, several people talked about how Washington is a testing ground. If the citizen initiative process can be successful here to erode gun rights with tenets that make crimes out of things that law-abiding gun owners have done by tradition for generations, this strategy will be tried elsewhere. In other words, if I-594 is successful in Washington, a clone may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

Something not reported by Griner in the Washington Post blog is the same thing that has been unreported by Evergreen State news media. Examiner has touched on this glaring omission repeatedly: Two major statewide law enforcement groups oppose I-594 and support I-591. Both the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association are essentially lining up with the grassroots and against the elitists.

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