Someone named Carla Axtman is celebrating (perhaps prematurely) the potential passage of I-594 in the state of Washington. With the gun control money pouring into the fight, this piece of legislation poses a real danger.
And the commentaries by the leftists are virtually breathless. Consider what Alexander Zaitchik says at Salon.
Gottlieb’s controversial bill is a direct response to another initiative on the ballot, 594, which expands background checks to include sales at gun shows and over the Internet. It is polling high and expected to pass. If Washington votes “yes,” it will join the growing list of states that have taken gun policy into their own hands in the wake of Newtown. Both the NRA and Gottlieb’s organization oppose 594. But Gottlieb has done more than just denounce it. He has raised more than a million dollars to promote an alternative bill, 591, which would prohibit the state from ever ”requir[ing] background checks on the receipt of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”
Can you spot the offending language? It’s this: “unless a uniform national standard is required.”
For Jeff Knox and much of the gun-rights movement, to even accept the future possibility of federal background check legislation constitutes apostasy. Some of the groups represented at the GRPC are the ones that, along with stalwarts like the NRA and Larry Pratt’s Gun Owners of America, mobilized in April 2013 to torpedo the Manchin-Toomey Senate bill, which would have closed background check loopholes across the country. After looking at the polling data, Gottlieb initially supported Manchin-Toomey as a way for the movement to get some “goodies” (such as relaxing laws on interstate gun sales) while supporting something that he thought was going to pass anyway. (Gottlieb later dropped his support when Chuck Schumer stripped the bill of Gottlieb’s prized “goodie.”)
Gottlieb’s early support for the Senate bill earned him names like “sellout” and “traitor.” But it’s now looking like he understood something his critics did not. Steadfast opposition to a federal background-check bill would give rise to a growing and well-funded movement for background-check referenda in the states. In Washington, the coalition behind 594 is supported by a group of wealthy donors, including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, the head of the gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety. In his newsletter, Gottlieb describes their efforts as the “Billionaire’s Club war against freedom.”
So when Knox asked Gottlieb to defend the language of 591 at this year’s GRPC, attendees sat up in their seats. After a weekend filled with enough policy weeds to replant the Everglades, the confrontation amounted to high drama.
With his comb-over, pencil mustache, and brightly colored bowties, Alan Gottlieb has the presence of a harried, slightly eccentric accountant. But the Queens native is no dutiful CPA; he’s a convicted tax felon who does not flinch easily on questions of strategy, let alone challenges to his commitment to the Second Amendment. In the 1970s, while still in his twenties, Gottlieb began organizing the legal workshops that grew into the brain trust that won the landmark Supreme Court rulings of Heller and McDonald, which enshrined gun ownership in the home as an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. At the podium in Chicago, Gottlieb welcomed the chance to deliver a blunt message to the background-check dead-enders who had been calling him a traitor since Manchin-Toomey.
“The bottom line is that” the background check issue “is different” from other gun gun policy debates, Gottlieb explained, pointing to public opinion. “What issues do you find that get 70 to 90 percent of the people to agree on anything?”
After Knox asserted that he doesn’t believe polls showing support for background checks, Gottlieb responded, “You may not believe the number, but I’ve seen well over 500 polls all across the country over the last six years on background checks. They all say the same damn thing. They’re not wrong, believe me.”
Knox countered with another reality: Many gun groups, especially those in the referendum states of the Southwest, are never going to sign off on background checks, ever, at any level. In Arizona, “I wouldn’t be able to get our members to proactively concede anything,” said Knox. His hardline solution is to “let them go ahead and deal with the consequences.”
By “them,” Knox means the feds. In the purist view, the best way to deal with any gun law is to dig in, take the hits, and ignore the law, forcing the government to “deal with the consequences.” Knox said he wished the NRA had taken that approach with the 1934 National Firearms Act, which regulated machine guns and banned short-barrel rifles.
To Gottlieb, that’s a doomed strategy. In any case, he stressed, “the Bloomberg people” know gun groups will never support background-check legislation, so they can “knock our teeth out and there’s nothing we can do about it.” He later added, “They’ve got us hogtied because they know we’re not going to change. I’m being honest with you. I’m not expecting you to change, but that’s why we’re going to lose.”
I’ve quoted extensively from the article (normally bad form, but it’s Salon so I don’t really care), so let’s deal with a few facts now. First of all, good pollsters could get the vast majority of the American public to agree with the assertion that the man in the moon stayed alive by eating the green cheese the moon is made from. Please stop citing polls to me. Just stop. Second, when posed this way, what percentage of the public would be in favor: “Would you favor background checks for all gun sales even if it involved bloodshed and possible civil war when warrants were served on otherwise peaceable Americans for selling guns person-to-person?”
As for Gottlieb, I always knew that the “stupid” act he played after support of Manchin-Toomey was a ruse. He has a deep character flaw that enables him to support totalitarian measures. We all have our flaws, but this one runs deep and dangerous. In fact, read again his excuse for supporting universal background checks. Basically it boils down to this: if you don’t voluntarily agree to it, they will do it anyway. Or by way of analogy, if you don’t give a pick pocket you money, he’s just going to take it anyway.
Someone please try to convince me that isn’t what he is saying, because it looks to me like it is. And that’s puerile and childish reasoning, and in this case I think he advances it not because he really believes that it is logically compelling, but because he is frightened, or a publicity hound, or something dark. As I said, I don’t know exactly what, but the character flaw runs deep in Alan.
Queue it up, all of the polls, and money, and voters, and whatever else you want. I will not submit to universal background checks and/or its corollary evil cousin a national gun registry. We know why they want it.
The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.
Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it. The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them.
The writer at Salon has it all wrong, and Alan has it equally wrong. Passing a bill is the easy part, and it isn’t the first in a string of compromises. It will be the last straw.