Dingy Harry Is Right – Billionaires Are Trying To Buy Democracy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a speech yesterday on the floor of the Senate. It was his first floor speech since the end of the August recess. As The Hill reports it, he said, in part,

“We have had in this country a flood of very, very dark money coming into this nation’s political system,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Radical billionaires are attempting to buy our democracy.”

Reid is correct in his statement – just not in the billionaires to whom he referred. He, of course, was continuing his jihad against the libertarian Koch brothers.

However, if one were to examine the backers of the universal background check initiative in Washington State, I-594, you would come to the conclusion that a gaggle of billionaires was indeed trying to buy “our democracy.”

Examining the public reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, one finds that a full 72% of the funding for the anti-gun Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has come from five billionaires (including spouses) plus one very wealthy woman from an “old Seattle family”. In dollar terms, these six have donated $5,171,600 out of the $7,175,542 donated to the anti-gun organization. Small contributions to this gun control ballot initiative total only $63,009 or less than 1% of the total.

So who are these billionaires (or near billionaires), how much have they given individually, what is their estimated net worth, and where do they stand on the Forbes 400 list of richest people in America. Here is the list in order of contributions:

  1. Nick Hanauer, $1,485,000; net worth $1 billion, venture capitalist, Second Avenue Investing
  2. Bill and Melinda Gates, $1,050,000; net worth $72 billion, No. 1 Forbes 400, co-founder Microsoft
  3. Michael Bloomberg*, $1,030,000; net worth $31 billion, No. 10 Forbes 400, founder Bloomberg LP
  4. Connie and Steve Ballmer, $830,000; net worth $18 billion, No. 21 Forbes 400, former CEO Microsoft, owner LA Clippers
  5. Paul Allen, $500,000; net worth $15.8 billion, No 26 Forbes 400, co-founder Microsoft, owner Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers
  6. Ann Pigott Wyckoff, $276,600; net worth est. multi-millions, heiress and daughter of the late Paccar Corporation president Paul Pigott. Paccar manufactures Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Leyland trucks.
To put these contributions into perspective, let’s look at the campaign committee for I-591 which is the other ballot initiative which opposes universal background checks. Protect Our Gun Rights is the campaign committee formed to support I-591. The largest individual (non-organizational) contribution was $1,500 by a Boeing engineer. The primary contributors to Protect Our Gun Rights are the Washington State-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Washington Arms Collectors. This committee has raised a total of $1,121,535 at last report.
As Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner, put it, this is a billionaire bombardment and he is correct. So when Dingy Harry speaks of “radical billionaires attempting to buy our democracy”, he just has the wrong set of billionaires in mind. It isn’t the Koch brothers, it is the Hanauers, the Gates, the Allens, the Ballmers, and the Bloombergs who plan to dominate the TV airwaves with their appeals to low information voters in an effort to impose their will on the people of Washington State.
*Bloomberg’s contribution was funneled through MAIG and Everytown for Gun Safety (sic).

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from US National Rifle Team member and gun blogger Anette Wachter who is also known as 30CalGal. She was one of the people who had testified before a Washington State legislative committee about Initiatives 591 and 594. Initiative 594 is the gun prohibitionists’ “background check” initiative which would criminalize transfers without a state background check while Initiative 591 is the Protect Our Gun Rights Act.

Describing how one opponent of gun rights had said she was afraid of guns, Anette said we must work on those in the middle.

But as I listened to Wa St. Senator Jeannie Darneille from Tacoma state she is deathly afraid of guns period, I knew that there was to be no convincing people like her to back off of gun control measures. They hate guns period. Our work to be done is to make those on the fence see the light. Those on the fence are the ones that only hunt, or only have a pistol, or only go to the range once in a while or who’s dad used to shoot, that all aspects of the 2nd Amendment need to be protected. Just because you don’t shoot an AR and it does not affect you does not mean you should vote against the right to own them. Do you want me to vote against one side of your First Amendment because I don’t like your choice of social media but as long as my social media choice is not affected that is it ok? It is all or nothing.

She is dead on with that observation and that is where we need to concentrate our efforts. It is what military strategists call the concentration of force.

90% Support Universal Background Checks?

You know how all we’ve heard for the past year is that 90% of Americans support universal background checks? Well, not so fast.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released a poll today that shows only 40% of Americans want universal background checks at gun shows. The difference in the poll results is because contextual detail was added to the question. Instead of asking do you want to close the “gun show loophole” or other such nonsense, the poll points out that most sales at gun shows are conducted with background checks and are by FFLs.

The poll goes further. Only 39% of respondents thought that requiring a background check for transferring a firearm between friends or family members would reduce violent crime. That’s a long way from 90% in my calculations.

The poll was conducted in November for NSSF by McKeon and Associates. The poll sample included over 1,200 respondents and contained a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.

The release on the poll results with more details is below:

Americans Don’t Think ‘Universal Background Checks’ Extension for Gun Shows Are Needed, National Poll Finds
Conn. — Only four out of ten Americans support so-called “universal
background checks” at gun shows after being informed that the vast
majority of firearms sales at these shows are transacted by licensed
retailers that already conduct such checks through the National Instant
Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as required by federal law. The
poll results stand in contrast to the vague claim often reported in the
media and attributed to gun control proponents without important
contextual detail that 90 percent of Americans surveyed support
“universal background checks.
findings were the among the results of a national scientific poll of
more than 1,200 Americans conducted in November by McKeon &
Associates and released today by the National Shooting Sports Foundation
(NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.
The McKeon poll found that only 40 percent of respondents said that
extension of “universal background checks” to private transactions at
gun shows are necessary, while 53 percent said they are not necessary
and 7% said they did not know.
Americans polled also said by a combined 74 percent margin that
conducting background checks against an incomplete database was not
effective at all or not very effective while 54 percent said that
requiring background checks for transferring guns between friends and
family members was not at effective at all or not very effective in
reducing violent crime.
links to hi-res JPG
poll also discovered that 92 percent of Americans agree that the states
should submit all records of persons federally prohibited from owning a
firearm to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems
(NICS), passing legislation if needed.
70 percent of the survey sample also said that did not believe that
government should mandate that all firearms produced incorporate “smart
gun” technology should it become commercially available. Only 17
percent approved of a mandate, while 13 percent didn’t know.
links to hi-res JPG“We
commissioned this poll to help determine where Americans stood on the
various aspects of how the NICS system actually works today,” said Larry
G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “When
properly informed of relevant details, it turns out that only four out
of ten, not nine out of ten Americans support so-called ‘universal
background checks’ at gun shows or for firearms transfers. The poll
also found that Americans want a National Instant Criminal Background
Check System with a dependable and accurate database, which supports the
goal of the FixNICS initiative we launched in 2013 and will continue in
links to hi-res JPGThe
poll conducted Nov. 6-7 has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
Respondents self-identified as 33 percent Democrat, 26 percent
Republican and 41 percent independent. As to ethnicity, 62 percent of
respondents said they were Caucasian, 18 percent African-American, 11
percent Hispanic; and 9 percent, other. As to age, 20 percent of
respondents said they were 18-30; 36 percent, 31-45; 23 percent 46-60;
and 21 percent, 60 or older.

No, She Isn’t

The Maine Sunday Telegram had an editorial in today’s edition speculating that the visit of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly “could shake up gun stalemate.”

They made this statement in the editorial.

We have just come through a legislative session in which no progress was made in the effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

Giffords is a national symbol of the consequences of doing nothing. Her career in Congress was cut short when a deranged man armed with a semiautomatic handgun and high-capacity magazines opened fire on her in a crowd of constituents, killing six people and wounding Giffords and 12 others.

If by doing nothing the editors of the Sunday Telegram mean implementing universal background checks, Ms. Giffords is NOT a national symbol of “the consequences of doing nothing.” The shooter did not purchase his firearm through a private transaction, at a gun show, or in an otherwise prohibited transaction. The shooter and killer purchased his Glock 19 from a licensed dealer in
Arizona and passed the requisite NICS background check conducted by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If Ms. Giffords is any sort of national symbol of the consequences of doing nothing, the fault lies at the foot of Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and his Pima County Sheriffs Department as well at the foot of officials at Pima Community College. Despite his run-ins with law enforcement and his suspension from Pima Community College for what appears to be mental illness, this information never went any further. Any database is only as good as the information in it and inaction by Dupnik and Pima Community College kept potentially disqualifying information out of the NICS database.

Universal background checks of private sales would not have stopped the shooter in Tucson nor at Virginia Tech nor in Aurora, Colorado and it is time to stop pretending that it would have. They all passed Federal NICS background checks.

Background Check Veto Upheld In Maine

The Maine State Legislature passed a universal background checks bill on June 19th in what was considered a surprise vote. The bill had been defeated twice before in the State Senate.

In a surprise vote Wednesday, the Maine Senate passed a bill that creates civil penalties for those who sell guns in private sales to people who are prohibited from having them.

The legislation imposes a civil fine of $500 if a gun seller does not perform a background check and the buyer is later discovered to be a prohibited person.

The bill, LD 1240, was first watered down by the Senate, but on Tuesday, the House of Representatives sent the original measure back to the Senate. The Senate approved the bill on a 18-17 vote, with two rural Democrats joining Republicans in the minority on the measure.

Fortunately for Maine gun owners, Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) was true to his word and vetoed the bill. He said the bill only impacted honest gun owners and for that reason he vetoed the bill.

Yesterday, the Maine State House voted to uphold the governor’s veto in a 77-71 vote. The gun prohibitionists in the State House are now threatening to go to a referendum to pass the measure and cite the misleading poll number from an anti-gun push poll.

The background-check bill, L.D. 1240, sponsored by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, would have created a civil violation for selling a gun to a person prohibited from owning a gun, such as a convicted felon.

It originally was a sweeping bill that would have mandated background checks before all gun purchases. His bill passed narrowly in the Legislature earlier this month, and the House upheld the veto in a 77-71 vote on Wednesday.

In his veto message, LePage said the bill was focused “on those who would choose to obey the law, and for that reason I believe it misses the target.”

“This is an issue that may need to go straight to our citizens,” Dion said in a statement after the vote. “The governor described my bill as ‘well-meaning,’ but public policy requires more than intentions, it requires action.”

Dion was referring to a potential referendum on the matter: J. Thomas Franklin, president of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, a pro-gun control group, said last week that it is considering bringing a citizens’ initiative to ask Maine voters to decide on mandatory background checks in 2014.

Searching the Maine register of lobbyists, I cannot find any that represent Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors nor any that represent other gun prohibitionist group. I am going to assume that Bloomberg didn’t employ his full court press like he did in Colorado and Nevada.

Still that a state like Maine with a long tradition of protecting gun rights would have even considered such a bill – much less passed one – is disappointing. Maine, like the rest of northern New England, is changing and, in my opinion, not for the better.

Bloomberg Loses In Nevada

While Bloomberg’s billions were enough to “persuade” both houses of the Nevada Legislature to pass SB 221, it wasn’t enough to “convince” Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) not to veto the bill. SB 221 provided for universal background checks on all transfers in Nevada.

Bloomberg had blanketed Nevada with his lobbyists and spent a lot of money on ads pushing Sandoval to sign SB 221. However, Gov. Sandoval, who had pledged to veto the bill even before it passed, seems to have listened to callers to his office instead.

It is a significant defeat for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control advocacy group, Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working to get the bill passed.

The group bought numerous ads on social media sites, news websites and television, in addition to mailing out materials attacking select lawmakers who voted against the bill during the session. Video ads pressuring Sandoval to sign the bill surfaced immediately following the Assembly nod of approval.

But an automated system set up to field the flood of calls to the governor’s office about the bill showed an overwhelming majority of calls wanted Sandoval to veto the bill. The system did not record names, so it was possible for callers to call multiple times and distort the numbers.

 The gun prohibitionists are still clinging to their mythical 86% of Nevadans in favor of the bill and are castigating the governor for ignoring their push poll.

Repeating an oft-cited result of a poll showing 86 percent of Nevadans favor background checks for private party gun sales, critics said Sandoval has made an unpopular decision.

“Clearly Gov. Sandoval is going against the will of the people,” said Brian Fadie, executive director of ProgressNow Nevada, a group that favored the bill’s passage. “He is standing with extremists who are mostly filled with paranoid fears of the government taking away their guns.”

 Gov. Sandoval, in his veto message found here, said that the bill’s measure on the reporting of mental health issues were very good. However, he goes on to say that that bill’s background check provisions “constitute an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights under the United States Constitution and may subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to criminal prosecution.” He adds that the bill would also alter the burden of proof for illegal sales of firearms under Nevada.

I congratulate Gov. Sandoval for vetoing the bill and for recognizing the “flypaper” nature of this bill written by Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors. These transfer provisions were never meant to stop crime but are intended to create a new class of inadvertent criminals ultimately leading to the loss of their rights under the Second Amendment.

Has Bloomberg Bought Another Western State?

Yesterday, the Nevada State Assembly passed universal background checks by a vote of 23 yea to 19 nay and sent it to Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) for his signature or veto. The text of the bill as enrolled can be found here.

One of the most contentious bills of the day was Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, to require background checks on private gun sales.

The bill appeared dead early Monday, but in an unexpected move, the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved it on a 7-5 vote.

The full Assembly then voted 23-19 to send it to Sandoval despite his promise to veto the measure. Four Democrats joined with all 15 Republicans in opposing the measure.

The bill previously passed the Senate on an 11-10 party-line vote with Democrats in support.

Multiple reports indicate that Gov. Sandoval will veto this bill. That has not stopped Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors from running ads asking people to call the governor and asking him to sign it. Moreover, they are saying that “86% of Nevada voters” support the bill.

The other day I wrote about how certain legislators were expecting substantial campaign contributions as a result of pushing Bloomberg’s bill.

It is obvious from the lists below, that Bloomberg saturated Carson City with lobbyists. There are a total of 63 legislators in both houses of the Nevada Legislature. Examining the list of lobbyists below for Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors, I see a total of 13 paid lobbyists or one lobbyist for every 4.85 legislators. An asterisk after the lobbyist name indicates that he or she is a paid lobbyist. Bloomberg had no volunteer lobbyists.

By contrast, you have three paid lobbyists and three volunteer lobbyists for the pro-rights side. Besides the NRA, you had the Nevada Firearms Coalition and the Stillwater Firearms Association. The Nevada Firearms Association is the state affiliate of the NRA. As they themselves note, they relied on the NRA-ILA to handle things in the legislature until recently. The Stillwater Firearms Association is a non-profit that puts on classes, organizes shooting competitions, and manages a shooting range in Fallon, NV.

From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that Mayor Bloomberg overwhelmed the grassroots organizations with money, ads, and paid lobbyists just like he did in Colorado. Unlike Colorado, having a Republican governor may be enough to stop this in its tracks. A veto of the bill cannot be overriden by either house of the Nevada Legislature.

While it is past time to have made your voice heard, we still have a chance with Gov. Sandoval. I’d emphasize that this measure won’t stop crime and would not have prevented the Newtown shootings. Moreover, if you are not a state resident but have visited Reno, Las Vegas, or other gambling locations, make that known along with your determination not to spend your money in a state that doesn’t believe in your civil rights.

Contact information for Gov. Sandoval is located here.

One final reminder: be firm but respectful.

Open Letter From The NRA-ILA To The US Senate

Chris Cox of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action released an open letter to the Senate. In it he states that the NRA is “unequivocally opposed” to S. 649. He states that the NRA will oppose any and all attempts to extend background checks, to limit firearms and magazines, or to criminalize private transfers and/or sales. He specifically includes the proposals from Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey issued today.

Dear Senator,

I am writing regarding the National Rifle Association’s position on several firearms-related proposals under consideration in the Senate.

S. 649, the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013”, introduced on March 21, contains a number of provisions that would unfairly infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. This legislation would criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest citizens, requiring friends, neighbors and many family members to get government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution. The NRA is unequivocally opposed to S. 649.

In addition, the NRA will oppose any amendments offered to S. 649 that restrict fundamental Second Amendment freedoms; including, but not limited to, proposals that would ban commonly and lawfully owned firearms and magazines or criminalize the private transfer of firearms through an expansion of background checks. This includes the misguided “compromise” proposal drafted by Senators Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey and Chuck Schumer. As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools. Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.

Rather than focus its efforts on restricting the rights of America’s 100 million law-abiding gun owners, there are things Congress can do to fix our broken mental health system; increase prosecutions of violent criminals; and make our schools safer. During consideration of S. 649, should one or more amendments be offered that adequately address these important issues while protecting the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners, the NRA will offer our enthusiastic support and consider those votes in our future candidate evaluations as well.

We hope the Senate will replace the current provisions of S. 649 with language that is properly focused on addressing mental health inadequacies; prosecuting violent criminals; and keeping our kids safe in their schools. Should it fail to do so, the NRA will make an exception to our standard policy of not “scoring” procedural votes and strongly oppose a cloture motion to move to final passage of S. 649.

Should you have any questions on these issues, please do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 651-2560.


Chris W. Cox

CCRKBA Calls For Background Checks …. On Poiliticians

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has weighed in on universal background checks. Given the higher incidence of crime by mayors associated with MAIG than that of lawful gun owners, Alan Gottlieb makes the suggestion that we should be doing background checks on politicians instead of gun owners.

BELLEVUE, WA – “If politicians want universal background checks, we should start with them,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

He pointed to recent political scandals in the New York Legislature, which just passed a new restrictive gun control law, where a state senator and state assemblyman were arrested last week, as “one small example.”

“But look at politics in recent years,” Gottlieb observed. “From state and federal scandals, to arrests involving several members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, we have had example after embarrassing example of public officials being charged with violating various laws. Does anyone think former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who had to quit his post over a lewd e-mail scandal, should clear a mental health screening to buy a gun?

“If you compare percentages,” he continued, “the rate of criminal activity by politicians is probably far higher than the rate of crimes committed by the general public.

“What this underscores,” he said, “is the reason gun laws don’t work and never will. People who make the laws we have to live under break them anyway, just like criminals routinely disobey gun laws. Based on their own experience, politicians should know that the gun laws they pass will not prevent crime.”

Gottlieb pointed to crooks like former Louisiana Congressman Bill Jefferson, sent to prison after authorities found $90,000 in his freezer during an investigation. He cited former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now in prison for racketeering and extortion.

“It is both sad and disgraceful that the list goes on and on,” Gottlieb said. “There are politicians with domestic violence problems, others who accepted bribes, some who stole money or were involved in other criminal acts.

“No wonder citizens are disgusted with politicians and don’t trust them,” he concluded, adding tongue-in-cheek, “And these people want to know why there’s a run on guns and ammunition?”

Toomey, Manchin, And The Politics Of “Doing Something”

I, for one, do not understand just what the hell that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) thought he’d gain by entering backroom discussions on gun control with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Gun control legislation was dying in the Senate because red-state Democrats up for re-election in 2014 were mortally afraid of it. Toomey’s move gives them more than a bit of cover.

I’ll be in client meetings when Toomey and Manchin have their press conference at 11 am this morning. However, Sebastian and Bitter have been doing a great job of reporting on Toomey’s efforts. I suggest going there to read some more background and to keep up with the latest details.