The National Rifle Association has anti-ballistic billionaire bully boy Michael Bloomberg in its proverbial sights. As you can see in the video above – one of a series attacking the former New York City Mayor for bankrolling America’s civilian disarmament movement – the NRA pits “big city” big bucks Bloomberg against rural America (amber waves of grain and all that). Yes, well, the pro-gun folks in Washington state are yelling “hello?” Where’s our cash? So much so their kvetching has caught the eye of the Washington Post . . .
In Washington State, two gun-related initiatives are on the ballot this year. One, Initiative 594, would expand background checks to cover private sales and sales at gun shows. The other, Initiative 591, would prohibit the state from conducting background checks beyond those required by federal law. The two measures effectively negate each other; it’s unclear which would take precedence if they both pass.
They are the only gun-related measures on the ballot this year, but gun rights advocates who back I-591 and oppose I-594 say the NRA isn’t flexing its muscles very publicly.
“The NRA has really not been involved at all until very recently, and not in the area of spending significantly at all,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. “I have no idea why. We have a coalition made up of all the gun rights groups in Washington, and they are not participating. They’re doing their own thing.”
That’s kind of rich (so to speak) coming from Gottleib, who “did his own thing” when the feds were threatening a post-Newtown universal background check bill.
And it’s worth noting that the NRA are hardly a bunch of hayseeds. They’re masters of the art of realpolitik, spending their time, members’ money and legislative effort where they think it will do maximum good for gun rights. Either that or the bureaucracy-heavy gun rights group has some internal dissension thing we know nothing about.
I’m going with explanation A. As the Post points out, the Evergreen State referenda battle is a bit of a financial sinkhole. No matter who wins, the thing’s bound to end up in court and/or the legislature. Besides, the NRA might git ‘er done without matching the billionaire’s millions.
The groups opposing expanded background checks, by contrast, have raised only $1.3 million. Of that, the NRA has contributed $191,000 to a Washington State affiliate. That group has spent $100,000 on advertising and $31,000 on billboards, according to PDC filings.
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA in Virginia, said the group has had two full-time staff on the ground for months. He estimated that the NRA has spent a total of $300,000 to $400,000 so far against I-594, with that number likely to grow in the final two months before Election Day. That figure doesn’t include communications with members and those who receive the NRA’s magazines and publications, he said.
“Whatever we do is going to be a grass-roots effort. We’re certainly not an organization, in contrast to Mike Bloomberg’s group, who has the ability to spend tens of millions without batting an eye,” Arulanandam said. “As recent history has shown, looking at what happened in Wisconsin in the sheriff’s race and in Colorado with the recall races, money isn’t everything. We have the grass-roots support.”
Let’s just hope they have the votes. Otherwise, the post-referenda acrimony could be bad, for all concerned. [h/t EN]