U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Grassroots momentum is building fast in a the admittedly-uphill effort to repeal Washington State’s gun control Initiative 1639, but the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby is already using the pro-rights repeal effort to raise cash to fight gun owners, and buried in a story about the new campaign in the Seattle P-I.com is a hard truth: Money matters.
Money can literally buy an election, a fact not lost on wealthy anti-gunners. They're using Washington as a “test tube” to learn how to launch similar efforts in other states with the citizen initiative process. They can out-spend gun owners, and they know it.
So far, rights activists pushing Initiative 1094—the repeal measure—have not been raising money, but they did just pick up some important support. Big Top Gun Shows has announced signature drives at each of its eight gun show events in November and December, all in Western Washington. Those gatherings are scheduled in Enumclaw, Bremerton, Ferndale, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver and Lacey, with perhaps the most important of them all being the Tacoma event Nov. 23-24.
I-1639 was passed last November by just under 60 percent of the voters. It’s a formidable number to overcome, especially when asking voters to reverse what they did a year ago.
Veteran political columnist Joel Connelly, a pro-gun control writer, observed via e-mail, “How do (they) expect to reverse such a strong vote, in a state that has voted for three gun initiatives? Where will (they) get the money to go toe-to-toe with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility?”
It’s a fair question, underscored by something Connelly wrote in his P-I.com article.
“The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, at an annual luncheon in June, has cleared between $750,000 and $1 million,” he reported. “Backers of I-1639 spent about $4.4 million to get the measure on the ballot…”
Incredibly, after noting how much money the Alliance raised and spent, he was critical of how that group was described in Ammoland as the “Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby, which is bankrolled by billionaires and wealthy elitists.” Who else but wealthy elitists could open their wallets at a luncheon to cough up so much money?
The importance of the late-November Tacoma gun show, and one slated the same weekend in nearby Puyallup by the Washington Arms Collectors, cannot be overstated. Memories will still be fresh about the Tacoma City Council’s effort to adopt a gun and ammunition tax, which KTTH talk radio host Jason Rantz has dubbed “a self-defense tax” at MyNorthwest.com.
The vote, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening, was postponed until Nov. 12. Mayor Woodards said the delay was to allow the council more time to add amendments, according to KCPQ News.
I-1094 needs to collect 300,000 signatures by the end of December. It’s going to require a Herculean effort. Supporters are well aware of the daunting challenge they face. But they’re angry, and sometimes that’s more important than having a fat bank account.
But the importance of money hasn’t been lost on the Alliance, which sent out an e-mail blast on the heels of Connelly’s column.
“It's been almost a year since Washington State voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 1639 to make our communities safer,” the Alliance said, “and almost a year since the NRA filed their first – but not last – lawsuit to stop this lifesaving initiative. Now, it seems that we are facing yet another threat to our hard work to make Washington safer. New reports claim that a group of gun rights extremists, including members of the anti-government militia group called the Washington State Three Percenters, are starting a petition to get a measure to repeal I-1639 on the ballot in November 2020.”
The lawsuit about which the Alliance speaks involves more than just the National Rifle Association, and they know it. The Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Wash., is a full partner, and they are suing on behalf of two firearms retailers and individuals in the 18-20-year-old age group whose Second Amendment rights have allegedly been stripped away by I-1639’s prohibition on sales of so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” to anyone under age 21. Both retailers are supporting the repeal effort.
That lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on federal constitutional grounds, getting it out of the state court system.
But the Alliance, portraying itself as an underdog, declares in its e-mail, “They need to know that we'll never give up on fighting for the safety of our children and defending the will of the people – but every day this fight gets more expensive, and we depend on financial support from gun safety advocates like you to keep it going.”
In reality, the bulk of I-1639 campaign funds came from about ten sources, according to data from the state Public Disclosure Commission.
One of those sources was the late Paul Allen, who kicked in more than $1.2 million. Another was Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, which donated more than a half-million dollars in cash and “in-kind” contributions.
The Alliance e-mail beg also claims, “Our country is suffering from a gun violence epidemic and the gun lobby won't even acknowledge it. Time and time again, they've blatantly ignored the facts, and now they're blatantly ignoring the people's will – all in support of their deadly guns-everywhere agenda.”
Here are some facts. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2018, homicide, including those involving firearms, declined. In 2018, the FBI reported 10,265 and in 2017, there were 10,982 gun-related slayings. Gun prohibition lobbying groups typically combine homicide and suicide data to create a more dramatic impression, calling it all “gun violence.” By most estimates, roughly 60-66 percent of all firearms-related deaths in any given year are suicides.
Annually, more people are fatally stabbed, stomped or beaten to death than are killed with either rifles or shotguns.
Connelly is correct when he intimates the Alliance will throw a bank vault supply of money at any effort to repeal I-1639. Beleaguered Evergreen State rights activists can attest that’s what happens when “billionaires and wealthy elitists” find their agenda challenged.
About Dave Workman