Anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, shown here in a 2018 appearance on Face the Nation, is reportedly preparing to run for president. The announcement has alarmed gun rights activists, especially in Washington State. (Scfreen snip, YouTube, CBS)
Reports that anti-gun-rights billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may leap into the 2020 Democrat presidential campaign has Second Amendment activists alarmed, and for good reason.
Bloomberg, estimated to be worth more than $50 billion, has “weaponized his wealth,” according to many activists who attended the September Gun Rights Policy Conference in Phoenix.
One year ago, the New York Times reported that “organizations controlled and funded by Mr. Bloomberg spent more than $41 million on 24 House races, much of it on eye-catching ads rolled out on social media and broadcast on television in the crucial final days of the campaign.” A chart used as an illustration with that story noted, “Bloomberg PACs Backed 24 House Races. Democrats Won 21 of Them.”
Last November, control of the U.S. House flipped to Democrats, leading to current efforts by the Nancy Pelosi-Adam Schiff led majority to impeach President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg has become especially disliked by Washington State gun owners for his support of restrictive gun control initiatives. In 2014, according to data from the state Public Disclosure Commission, shows that Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety lobbying group contributed $2.31 million to the Initiative 594 campaign. That was the measure requiring so-called “universal background checks.”
Two years later, Bloomberg’s Everytown was at it again, donating $550,000 cash and $43,993 in-kind to the Initiative 1491 campaign to adopt a “red flag” law in Washington.
That same year, according to a November 2016 Reuters report, Bloomberg “personally donated nearly $10 million” to a gun control initiative in Nevada patterned after Washington’s I-594 .
Last year, Everytown’s Action Fund donated another $450,000 to the Initiative 1639 campaign. That measure strips Second Amendment rights to purchase modern sporting rifles or .22-caliber semi-automatic hunting rifles from young adults ages 18-20 and is currently being challenged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
According to Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, that lawsuit is in the discovery phase. SAF and the National Rifle Association are supporting the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, grassroots activists, perhaps impatient for action from the court, have launched an ambitious initiative campaign to repeal I-1639. Operating with no funds but plenty of manpower, activists are gathering thousands of signatures on petitions at nearly every gun shop, gun shows and other popular venues across the state. They are scrambling to get 300,000 signatures by Dec. 28, which translates to needing at least 5,500 signatures daily between now and then.
Bloomberg reportedly will file the necessary paperwork today to qualify for the Democratic primary in Alabama next March. Today is the filing deadline for that election.
Politico noted Friday, “Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic causes in recent years, earning him goodwill among many progressive activists and especially those connected with climate change and gun control. His funding of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action has given the left a powerful counter to the National Rifle Association.”
Some reports suggest Bloomberg is giving serious consideration to a run because of concerns former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has stalled and he can’t beat Trump. There are also suggestions that Bloomberg is concerned Sen. Elizabeth Warren may emerge as the nominee, and she has been attacking Wall Street. That’s where Bloomberg made his fortune.
The former Big Apple mayor can self-fund a presidential campaign, and still have money left over to pour into more congressional races next year. If so, it could mean big trouble for the Second Amendment community, despite Trump’s success in filling federal court vacancies with pro-rights conservative judges. It is in the courts where the tide could eventually be turned against the gun control laws now being challenged by various lawsuits involving SAF, NRA or other gun rights organizations.
But with Bloomberg reportedly preparing to enter the fray, the concern is that he may simply try to buy their gun rights, one state at a time.