As the days wind down to next Tuesday’s election, gun control has once again taken center stage as an issue that is likely to bring many voters to the polls, with the gun prohibition lobby spending millions of dollars to push its agenda.
According to Reuters, anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety – a misnomer that should instead have “gun control” in its title, according to critics – “has been leading the charge, throwing its financial weight behind three of the four measures. The organization plans to spend $25 million nationwide on the issue.”
The news agency said Bloomberg “has personally donated nearly $10 million to the effort” in Nevada, where a measure requiring so-called “universal background checks” is on the ballot. Nevadans for Background Checks has, said Reuters, “collected $14.3 million as of Oct. 18.”
In Maine, where another background check measure is on the ballot, “Everytown-backed Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership Fund” had raised $5.3 million “as of last week,” Reuters noted.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that “Everytown has poured $13.3 million into Nevada, $4.6 million into Maine and $550,000 into Washington.” Evergreen State voters will decide another measure on Tuesday, whether to allow disarmament via “emergency protection orders.”
Polling so far, noted Reuters, suggests that measures in all three states, plus another gun control effort in California that will require background checks for ammunition sales, all are likely to pass. What could prevent that is an overwhelming turnout of gun owners who trade apathy for activism.
This raises a question that may be uncomfortable for some people. Is the Second Amendment for sale to wealthy elitists? How much money does it take to erode a fundamental civil right protected by a Constitutional amendment so that it becomes a tightly-regulated privilege?
It raises another question that should be uncomfortable, and after Initiative 594 passed in Washington State two years ago, nobody has bothered to answer. With opinion polls strongly favoring passage of these measures, why is it necessary to spend fortunes promoting them, when they should – if the hype is accurate – pass on their own merits without expensive advertising efforts?
When I-594 was on the ballot in 2014, Washingtonians were repeatedly told that the idea of “universal background checks” had the support of 80 to 90 percent of the public. Yet, after spending more than $10.2 million, against about $2 million spent to oppose the measure and promote an alternate initiative, I-594 was passed by less than 60 percent of the voters, in an election where only about half of the state’s registered voters bothered to return a ballot.
The claim by gun control proponents is that they want to “close a loophole” by requiring paperwork for all firearms transfers, whether a sale or just a loan, with a few exceptions for family members.
But gun rights activists who also value their privacy contend that this is nothing more than a back door gun registration scheme. So far in Washington, I-594 has not demonstrably prevented a single violent crime. One person has been charged under the new law, but the crime was committed, the gun allegedly involved in that crime has not been recovered, and the 17-year-old victim is still dead.