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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 28, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Gun-rights advocate challenges Bill Gates to debate I-594

The chairman of a powerful gun-advocacy organization has put a shot across the bow of I-594’s latest big donor.

Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA, possibly the most jarring acronym ever), called for Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to debate him over I-594.

Gates and his wife Melinda recently donated $1 million to a pro-I-594 group. The measure, which voters will approve or deny this fall, would mandate background checks before all gun purchases — including at gun shows and for private transfers.

Gottlieb’s press statement Wednesday continued to hammer on the wealth of big-ticket background check donors like Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer and Nick Hanauer.

“Gates is one of a handful of wealthy Seattle-area elitists who have shelled out big bucks to push this measure,” the statement reads. “The campaign has become a battle of class warfare, pitting the rich against Washington State’s far-less-privileged middle class firearms owners, and their families and friends.”

What Gottlieb leaves out is that anti-I-594 groups either aren’t fundraising or nobody wants to support their cause. As we wrote last week, the National Rifle Association’s anti-I-594 spending group — Washingtonians Opposed to I-594 – has not raised any money other than the $25,000 that NRA put into it.

And another anti-I-594 group, WA Citizens Against Regulatory Excess (WECARE), hasn’t taken in any donations or in-kind contributions since July 31. WECARE is overwhelmingly funded by the CCRKBA. WECARE, in fact, has reported just three individual small donors, one being Gottlieb, who donated $50.

Meanwhile, the pro-I-594 group, WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility, has raised over $57,000 in small individual donations, according to public records.

We reached out to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to see if Gates would take the challenge. Naomi Zeitlin, a press representative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, passed along a statement from the Gates family.

“We are pleased to join many others making a donation to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to support Initiative 594 on the November ballot,” reads the statement. “We believe it will be an effective and balanced approach to improving gun safety in our state by closing existing loopholes for background checks.”

Needless to say, it doesn’t mention Gottlieb’s challenge.

Comments | More in 2014 elections, Gun initiative | Topics: Bill Gates, gun control, i-594


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