UPDATED: Predictably, the gun prohibition lobby is playing a “guilt by association” game in its effort to push a new gun control initiative in Washington State, capitalizing on last week’s disclosure that a Russian woman, Maria Butina, who was detained by authorities “has longstanding ties to one of Washington’s most prominent gun lobby groups, the Second Amendment Foundation.”
Backers of Initiative 1639, which would strip young adults of their Second Amendment rights (while asking them to use their voting rights to help pass the measure), sent an email blast that insinuates some sort of indiscretion because SAF’s founder “even attended an event – in Moscow – organized by Butina.”
But then the email, sent by the Safe Schools, Safe Communities Committee, strayed into more familiar territory, complaining about the National Rifle Association’s contribution to the campaign opposing I-1639.
“The NRA spends big to influence elections,” the message declares, “they’ve already donated significant cash to a committee dedicated to stopping I-1639, the ballot initiative we’re fighting so hard to pass. Who knows where that money is really coming from?”
Presumably, the I-1639 backers want voters to believe that the Russians want to defeat their gun control initiative so Americans will maintain their right to keep and bear arms.
But a check with the state Public Disclosure Commission suggests that when it comes to spending “big to influence elections,” the NRA is a piker compared to the gun control crowd. According to PDC reports, the NRA has contributed $100,000 to the I-1639 opposition, while initiative backers have raised $4,102,280.89, of which more than $3 million has already been spent to get the measure on the ballot. At least that much came from five wealthy donors, Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Nick and Leslie Hanauer, and Steve and Connie Ballmer.
Another group, Save Our Security, reports a paltry $16,588.72 in contributions to beat the gun control effort.
In Tuesday’s Seattle Times, King County Councilman Joe McDermott proposes new gun control measures at the county level, which would seem to violate Washington State’s 35-year-old preemption statute. That law places sole authority for firearms regulation within the state in the hands of the Legislature.
The City of Seattle and Mayor Jenny Durkan are already being sued by SAF and NRA because of a gun control ordinance she recently signed. Other cities, including Edmonds and Everett, are moving on similar local control ordinances, and now McDermott is suggesting the same for King County. Perhaps the plan is to create a bunch of challenges to drain SAF and NRA legal resources because the city is getting its legal representation for free.
“The Second Amendment Foundation will definitely file suit if the county passes this (proposal),” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Elected officials can’t break the law to pass a law. If they don’t abide by the law why should anyone else?”
McDermott argues that “King County lost 151 residents to firearm injury in 2016…and seven of those were children 17 or younger.”
Last year, according to a King County Health report, “Drug and alcohol use caused the deaths of 379 King County residents in 2017—an increase from 348 in 2016.” Yet McDermott joined four of his colleagues on the King County Council to offer an alternative to Initiative 27, and there was a legal challenge to keep it off the February ballot even though some 70,000 signatures were gathered in the county to put that question – a ban on so-called “safe injection sites” – before voters. What’s the difference between that and a legal challenge to keep I-1639 off the ballot because the initiative petitions were apparently faulty?
The alternative proposed by McDermott and his allies was to create two “Community Health Engagement Locations” (CHEL), which are so-called “safe injection sites” for drug addicts.