By Jerry Cornfield
A coalition of gun control groups funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given $1 million to a campaign to expand Washington’s law governing background checks on gun sales.
The donation to support passage of Initiative 594 came from Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and appeared on the website of the state Public Disclosure Commission on Friday.
With the money, the I-594 campaign has now raised $7 million.
The total includes $1.3 million from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and $1.1 million from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is in for $500,000 while former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have given nearly $600,000.
If voters pass the measure, background checks would be required on nearly all sales of handguns in the state, including at gun shows and for private sales. There are some exemptions like when an antique firearm is involved.
A competing measure on the November ballot, Initiative 591, would prevent the state from adopting a background check law that exceeds federal law. Today, federal law requires checks on sales of firearms by licensed dealers but does not cover purchases from private sellers. Supporters of I-591 have raised $1 million.
A leader of the I-591 campaign today issued a press release questioning the motives of the super wealthy donors to the rival measure.
“It’s looking more like ‘Every Billionaire for Gun Control’ wants to buy this election,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “Voters should be very concerned when wealthy elitists like Bloomberg believe that their civil rights are for sale.”
On Wednesday, Gottlieb challenged Bill Gates to a debate on I-594