UPDATED: In a Wednesday article in the Seattle P-I.com, veteran political columnist Joel Connelly clearly identifies the major problem faced by Evergreen State Second Amendment activists, and probably grassroots gun rights advocates everywhere, as they battle to prevent their right to keep and bear arms from being transformed into a government-regulated privilege.
Perhaps unintentionally, Connelly essentially boils it down to money; those who have it, and those who don’t. Quoting a “broadside” from the National Rifle Association, the column notes, “Washington state’s would-be oligarchs are attempting to buy Evergreen Staters’ rights again: Four years after West Coast elites dumped $10 million into the campaign for 1594, which criminalized the private transfer of firearms, some of the same plutocrats are spending big bucks to back I-1639.”
Like it or not, that’s exactly how gun rights activists see it, and it’s a pretty accurate description of the situation. They look at the rich people backing such measures as people who think the Constitution is for sale, and they can out-bid the bumpkins.
A check with the state Public Disclosure Commission revealed that billionaire Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen has kicked in $1,226,036 to the Initiative 1639 campaign. That’s the measure that would raise the minimum age for owning a semi-auto rifle to 21, require a 10-day waiting period, a so-called “enhanced background check” and classify common .22-caliber semi-auto rimfire rifles as “assault rifles.” Connelly and others in the media still call this a “gun safety” effort, when in reality it is a gun control effort.
Here’s how the initiative defines a “semi-automatic assault rifle”:
“Semiautomatic assault rifle” means any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. “Semiautomatic assault rifle” does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.
Investment capitalist Nick Hanauer added another $613,018, and Leslie Hanauer matched that figure. Steve and Connie Ballmer have contributed $1 million. Lenore Hanauer donated another $100,000. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action fund has provided an in-kind contribution of $59,500 and Hanauer’s Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation added another $50,000. There are a number of other big money donations on the list.
What is an “oligarchy?” According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it is “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.” Wikipedia says an oligarchy is a situation in which “power rests with a small number of people” who may be distinguished by, among other things, “wealth.”
A plutocracy “is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income.”
By contrast, the grassroots Save Our Security group has raised a paltry $16,468.72 in cash and in-kind contributions, and the NRA has added $100,000 to its own “Washingtonians and the National Rifle Association for Freedom, 2018” opposition effort. Donations to the SOS group have been in the neighborhood of $250 or less. Bellevue’s Alan Gottlieb donated $1,000.
It has been long said that money is the life’s blood of politics, and right now, Evergreen State gun owners need a transfusion.
Long story short, people that blue collar gun owners describe as wealthy elitists have weaponized their wealth once again to essentially buy an election as they did in 2014 with Initiative 594, the so-called “universal background check” measure. That was sold as a tool to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent “gun violence.”
Yet the infamous Mukilteo triple slaying at a teen party, the Cascade Mall attack in which five people died, and the Freeman High School shooting near Spokane in which one person died, all happened since I-594 passed. The Mukilteo shooter bought his gun legally and passed a background check. The Cascade Mall and Freeman shooters apparently took guns from home without permission. Criminals still get guns, and they don’t bother with background checks.
But Connelly’s column underscores what grassroots activists are up against, and it’s time for those activists to open their wallets such as they can, and also make sure they vote, and to encourage their friends and family members to vote, as well, and stop thinking their votes don’t count.