Promises of a big bucks political campaign to force Washington lawmakers to adopt a “universal background check” law, with threats of an initiative if they don’t, have fired up Evergreen State gun owners since Monday’s press conference by several Seattle religious activists.
Bellevue’s Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, intended no pun when he told the Seattle Times, “The devil is always in the details.” What more pointed reaction could one make to an anti-gun political campaign launched by “a coalition of religious leaders, elected officials and activists?”
They’re talking about it in reader response sections in the Times and Seattle P-I.com. Likewise, gun rights activists are talking at Northwest Firearms and Open Carry.
What seems to infuriate gun owners more is the amount of money the anti-gun Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), which might be better called the Washington Elitists for Gun Restrictions, plans to raise. According to Zach Silk, WAGR’s campaign manager, support for this effort would come from billionaire anti-gun Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the war chest could swell to between $6 million and $12 million.
That amount of money might buy an initiative campaign, but Evergreen State gun owners are already saying their constitutionally-protected civil rights are not up for a vote, nor are they for sale.
Washington has become something of a proving ground for all manner of strange politics. Legalized marijuana, also adopted last fall in Colorado, still runs afoul of federal law. It would be particularly troublesome for anyone nabbed with pot and firearms.
A generation ago, Washington adopted a model preemption statute that placed authority for regulating firearms in the hands of the legislature, eliminating a patchwork quilt of different and sometimes contradictory ordinances across the state. The law was such a good idea that it was copied and/or modified by many other states, and it weathered a legal challenge by the anti-gun Seattle city government, thus strengthening the concept.
In 1997, Washington Ceasefire pushed Initiative 676, now recalled falsely as a “gun safety” measure aimed at trigger locks, but it was much more than that and everyone knows it. Mandatory training, storage, licensing; it was all in there and even the majority of law enforcement groups along with most daily newspapers opposed it, including the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tacoma News Tribune and Everett Herald. The measure was crushed.
If Bloomberg’s billions can be used to dictate firearms laws in Washington, activists note, it will embolden the gun prohibition lobby to try the same strategy elsewhere.
An initiative would not appear on the ballot until November 2014. It will be an interesting 18 months.
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Second Amendment Foundation
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
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