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

August 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Bloomberg gives $1M to background-check campaign

The I-594 advocacy group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is getting a $1 million donation from Everytown for Gun Safety, the umbrella organization driven by dollars from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Kate Downen, a spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, confirmed the donation Friday afternoon.

Voters this November will approve or reject I-594, which would require background checks for purchases made at gun shows and  through personal transfers.  This is another fundraising coup for the alliance, which in recent weeks has pulled in millions of dollars from mega-wealthy locals like Bill Gates, Nick Hanauer and Paul Allen.

Supporters of I-594 see the big dollars as a boon to help getting background checks passed in a popular vote.

“Our coalition of 29 Washington mayors and 45,000 Washington grassroots supporters has been actively advocating for sensible gun laws in Washington for several years and 594 would be a major step in the right direction,” Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said in a statement.

The gun-rights group Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, however, sees the donation as another example of wealthy liberals throwing their weight around.

“It looks more like ‘Every Billionaire for Gun Control’ wants to buy this election,” wrote Alan Gottlieb, the committee’s chairman, who is so far not having any luck trying to debate Bill Gates on guns. “Voters should be very concerned that their rights are for sale.”

Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said in a statement his group “is proud to support the Yes on 594 campaign, which will keep Washington communities safer and respect Second Amendment rights by making sure that everyone in Washington passes a background check when buying a gun.”

We reached out to Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility; they declined to comment.

Gun rights advocates have their own initiative on that ballot this fall, known as I-591. That measure would bar the state from both seizing guns and conducting background checks, potentially nullifying I-594, or at least setting up a legal fight. The pro-I-591 spending group, Protect Our Gun Rights, has raised about $1 million.

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

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