Everytown for Gun Safety, the multi-million dollar “grassroots” lobbying group funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has just pledged $500,000 to help pass another gun control measure in Washington State, eliciting a quick reaction from the head of a national gun rights organization headquartered in the city of Bellevue.
Initiative 1491 is backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility (AGR), the newest incarnation of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. WAGR was founded and partly funded by Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer. It’s earlier foray, Initiative 594, was passed in 2014 after WAGR raised and spent more than $10.3 million. I-1491 could be on the ballot this fall if it qualifies with enough signatures.
I-594 was the so-called “universal background check” initiative that does not appear to have been enforced anywhere, nor has it kept guns out of the wrong hands during the past 16 months since it took effect. It is the subject of a federal lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and other groups and individuals.
The new measure, I-1491, is the so-called “extreme risk protection order” scheme that, according to critics, skirts due process to allow people to obtain restraining-protection orders that strip people of their gun rights. And that’s what has gotten the attention of SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, who also opposed I-594. Like the earlier measure, I-1491 is long, this one spanning 20 pages. I-594 covered 18 pages, and critics invariably contend the “devil is in the details” of such lengthy measures.
“What we really need is a restraining-protection order law that stops Bloomberg and his cadre of anti-rights organizations from spending millions of dollars to violate our right of due process,” Gottlieb told Guns.com last night. “This is not just about guns. It is about the rule of law in a free society.”
There is a May 9 event at Seattle’s Westin Hotel for which the gun control lobby has already sent a couple of e-mail blasts soliciting volunteers to help with the I-1491 effort. That luncheon will feature an appearance by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, who have founded their own gun control group.
Giffords was shot and seriously wounded during an event in Tucson, Arizona by a man who had passed a background check. That gunman killed several people including one youngster and is now imprisoned.
“What we really need is a restraining-protection order law that stops Bloomberg and his cadre of anti-rights organizations from spending millions of dollars to violate our right of due process. This is not just about guns. It is about the rule of law in a free society.”—SAF’s Alan Gottlieb
John Feinblatt, president of Bloomberg’s Everytown group, issued a statement two days ago in which he called the Alliance, and Washington’s Moms Demand Action chapter, “gun safety advocates.” He also said Washington “is one of 18 states that have closed the background check loophole,” but forgot to mention that the law in another of those states, California, didn’t prevent Santa Barbara spree killer Elliot Rodger from legally buying three handguns before he murdered six people, including three he stabbed and slashed to death.
Last December, this column took a look at several of the people I-594 didn’t prevent being armed (see link below). That list didn’t include the teens now charged in the slayings of two homeless people living in the notorious “Jungle” under I-5 in Seattle. It didn’t prevent a convicted felon from having a handgun when Seattle police fatally shot him in February.
Still, I-594 backers have called their measure a success, because it reportedly blocked 50 sales. But that’s half of a story. It does not appear any of those purchase attempts resulted in an arrest or prosecution. There is no evidence that those 50 people didn’t get their hands on a gun via some illicit means.
That doesn’t seem to matter to anti-gunners at the Alliance. Last weekend they were crowing in an e-mail blast claiming “this victory is a testament to what we can accomplish by bringing communities together around common-sense proposals” for passage of Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2793, the “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education for Safer Homes Act,” sponsored by State Rep. Tina Orwall.
But that legislation was more an accomplishment of Associate Professor Jennifer Stuber at the University of Washington, who wrote about how it all came together, plus SAF’s Gottlieb and the National Rifle Association, professionals in the pharmacy field, and Rep. Orwall. Indeed, SAF and NRA are specifically identified as having representation on an important subcommittee created by that new law, but nowhere to be seen is the name of any gun control group.
Coming up in June is an event for which the gun control crowd has “borrowed” a safety tactic developed by the gun community. It’s “Gun Violence Awareness Day” on which people are asked to wear bright orange T-shirts and other garments. Fluorescent orange has been in use for years, and in many states it is mandated, for hunters during big game seasons.
This year’s initiative effort was allegedly launched because the Legislature would not move a bill to create the emergency protection order scheme. It died in a committee dominated by Democrats, which should signal something about the legislation. Gottlieb’s concerns about due process are shared by a lot of people, and his predictions about the ineffectiveness of I-594 have turned out to be spot-on.
But now wealthy elitists, including Bloomberg and his Everytown group, figure to buy more public policy via the initiative process that lawmakers, in their wisdom, rejected, critics say. It raises the question that lurks in the background of this new surge of big money gun control. At what point will the billionaires figure they can just buy the Second Amendment, if not the entire Bill of Rights?
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