So far, it hasn’t been much of a fight. The anti-gun Washington Alliance For Gun Responsibility, supported by Seattle millionaires like Bill Gates and Paul Allen, has already raised more than $7 million in support of I – 594. The pro-gun side has raised only $1.3 million. The NRA — which just dropped $1.4 million in the Arkansas Senate race — has put only $191,000 into the fight.
Not surprisingly, polls show the anti-gunners pulling ahead, with seventy percent of voters favoring the background checks bill. According to gun rights activist Barron Barnett, many gun rights supporters in Washington aren’t even aware of what is going on. He recently wrote:
“I am terrified. Out of the people visiting their local gun show you would expect at least 90% [to have] heard of what’s going on. It’s more like 50%. Most have no real knowledge of either of the initiatives or their real legal impact.”
Barnett added that he feels abandoned by the NRA, writing that “the NRA is more than happy to take my money but then is no where to be found when things actually go sideways.”
With the NRA out of the picture, the fight is being led by Alan Gottlieb of the Washington State-based Second Amendment Foundation, who challenged Bill Gates to a debate over gun rights last month. But some have questioned Gottlieb’s commitment as well. Last month, the gun writer Claire Wolfe accused Gottlieb of being more interested in money and attention than gun rights, saying that he “need[s] and want[s] gun control because that’s what keeps the money and publicity flowing.”
Gottlieb was also widely criticized for supporting the Manchin – Toomey background check bill of 2013 (although he claims to have done so because the bill actually contained advances for gun rights.)
Time is running out to oppose I – 594 in Washington. One can only hope that gun groups will get their act together before it is too late.