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Despite billionaire bucks, gun control measure loses ground

The Examiner

Posted 10/14/2014

While KOMO and other news outlets reported yesterday that the billionaire-backed Initiative 594 gun control measure facing Washington State voters in three weeks has lost significant ground despite an $8 million effort that has overshadowed rival Initiative 591, the Seattle Times published an interesting glimpse at one of I-594’s main backers.

According to a recent Elway poll, I-594 has lost ten percent support, while I-591 – backed by police groups, sportsmen, gun collectors and competitors – has lost seven percent, and is trailing. That may perhaps be partly because its supporters cannot afford the advertising airtime to match that being purchased by money from billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety lobbying group, along with local billionaires Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen and Nick Hanauer.

It was Hanauer’s interesting exchange of messages with King County Executive Dow Constantine a few weeks ago, obtained by the Seattle Times, that was raising eyebrows yesterday. In the text exchanges, Hanauer was furious about a Sheriff’s Department raid on what was apparently a known drug house. Several allegedly dangerous suspects were rounded up, but Hanauer was angry that the police were decked out in military-type gear, and there were “a thousand police cars” in his Shoreline neighborhood.

One Times reader, identified as “Accountability Advocate,” wrote in the comments section below the story by Jim Brunner, “Does Hanauer think he bought himself a government?” Several other reader comments – at last glance there were almost 200 of them – were also critical of the investment capitalist and his direct access to Constantine.

Hanauer and King County Sheriff John Urquhart were to have met Monday to chat about the raid, the Times reported. It should be noted for the record that Urquhart has taken no position on either of the competing initiatives.

Increasing numbers of people apparently are convinced that the rich elitists backing I-594 think they’re buying an election, and they want to stop that in its tracks. That sentiment was expressed by a story on Sunday’s World Net Daily headlined “New Trend: Billionaires ‘Buying Gun Control’.” In that article, Alan Gottlieb, a chief supporter of I-591 and outspoken opponent of I-594, was quoted observing, “If I were a voter I’d be very concerned that a few billionaires could get together and buy a ballot measure.”

Perhaps those voters are concerned, and they are also becoming more aware of law enforcement opposition to I-594. One letter to the editor of the San Juan Islander by Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Brennan is focusing attention on that opposition.

Bloomberg’s Everytown group on Sunday started pushing free bumper stickers about I-594 that have some deceptive wording. In an e-mail headlined “*Stick* it to the NRA,” Everytown’s Washington State Organizing Director Meera Bhardwaj appealed to initiative supporters to identify where the stickers may be sent. But the bumper sticker says the measure is about “Background Checks on All Gun Sales,” when I-594 goes much farther, and they know it.

I-594 would affect all firearms transfers, including loans and gifts, with some limited exceptions. This is largely why the Washington State Republican Party is opposing I-594. In a statement published on the WSRP website, state GOP Chair Susan Hutchison issued the following explanation:

“While supporters of I-594 claim it is about ‘background checks,’ actually it is an 18-page document of complex regulations and restrictions that pose a severe danger to our Second Amendment rights, and criminalizes the actions of law-abiding gun owners. None of the modern mass shootings would have been prevented by the regulations in this initiative. I-594 would expand the state government database of lawful hand gun owners, and in sweeping language it would severely restrict private loans and transfers of guns between friends or relatives.”

Elway’s poll showing I-594’s ten-point slippage was taken prior to the Republican Party’s decision to oppose the measure. It could have a significant impact on the election, particularly with party support for I-591.

The Seattle Times story about Hanauer’s text rant might also leave a negative impression among some voters as they assess one of the chief supporters of the 18-page gun control measure. If nothing else, it will reinforce the opposition to his measure by rank-and-file law enforcement.

Ballots are being sent out this week. They must be returned no later than Election Day, Nov. 4.

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