If the political battle to push a new restrictive gun control measure in Washington State offers one lasting lesson, it would be that the Seattle-based gun prohibition movement backing Initiative 1639 pushed hypocrisy to a new level, and voters will decide whether that level is low or high.
In an email blast seeking quick contributions totaling $10,000 “before the month ends,” the Safe Schools, Safe Communities Committee complained that the National Rifle Association has added $50,000 to the $100,000 already donated to the Washingtonians and the National Rifle Association for Freedom. That’s one of two groups opposing I-1639, a measure that would raise the age for purchasing a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle” to 21, require firearms safety training, so-called “secure storage,” add a 10-day waiting period on the purchase of a semi-auto rifle, and other things that have gun owners revving up a grassroots resistance reminiscent of the successful effort that defeated Initiative 697 in 1997.
The measure would classify all semi-auto rifles as “semiautomatic assault rifles.”
The alarmist nature of the I-1639 campaign’s message belies the massive financial imbalance that has existed since Day One between the gun control group and initiative opponents. The Safe Schools group has raised more than $4.3 million, and spent most of it to get the initiative on the ballot, according to Public Disclosure Commission data.
The NRA has devoted a mere $150,000 – having so far apparently not spent any of it – to their opposition effort. And to be fair, the Save Our Security No on I-1639 committee has raised some $13,000 in cash and another $5,000 in-kind contribution.
So, with a total of less than $200,000 divided between two campaigns opposing I-1639, the people behind it who have raised and spent roughly 20 times as much already are declaring a financial emergency. Adding to that is the fact that one of the initiative’s biggest donors last year supported an effort to get big money out of politics, as noted by this 2017 piece in MyNorthwest.com.
Perhaps it is the hypocrisy or maybe the overreach, or a combination of factors that has Washington State gun owners energized and cranking up a grassroots movement not seen in some 20 years.
As one activist observed, “money doesn’t vote, people do.” That’s why the firearms community is fired up, planning weekly phone banks, voter registration efforts and personal contacts such as doorbelling in their neighborhoods.
To help them out, the NRA on Wednesday launched its website with downloadable posters, bumper sticker designs, handouts detailing the many problems they have with the measure, and yard signs.