The Bloomberg Threat
Most of us are, by now, very familiar with what happened in the state of Washington in 2014. A ballot initiative, I-594, was submitted to the voters, backed by a massive public relations campaign that claimed it was all about “expanding background checks” at gun shows, to internet sales, and other such innocent sounding things. Of course, the details of the eighteen page proposal were far more onerous, but who had time to read it while they drowned in the seemingly endless media blitz that was bought and paid for by Michael Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies?
In a press release dated November 5, 2014, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the latest incarnations of Bloomberg’s crusade for gun control, crowed about the election day success of I-594, saying, “Everytown spent more than $4 million, placed half a dozen full-time staffers on the ground for the past year, and produced state-of-the-art research to support I-594, Washington State's ballot measure to reduce crime and save lives by closing the background check loophole.” Ignore the hyperbole for a second and think about that. This one organization dedicated six full-time employees and spent more than $4 million dollars to accomplish nothing else besides this one mission. This, of course, mentions nothing about the millions of dollars donated to this effort by half a dozen other billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft fame, and Nick Hanauer, a wealthy venture capitalist. The combined resources of these elitists, who, of course, all travel with their own security forces, far outstripped the ability of the vaunted NRA and their allies to compete against. They managed to raise a combined total of about $2 million, and were quickly snowed under. And we haven’t even discussed the biased media coverage that they faced.
However, a far more ominous statement, at least as far as Arizona’s citizens are concerned, also lurked in that press release …
“The background check victory in Washington State also represents a new frontier in the fight for public safety measures that can help prevent gun violence. Everytown is taking the fight for background checks to Nevada next – where signatures are being gathered for a 2016 ballot initiative – and to Arizona and Maine after that, among other states.”
This warning has been repeated in media across the nation. Think it can’t happen here? Better think again …
The Storm is Coming
Bloomberg’s disciples are already laying the groundwork for such an initiative here in Arizona. By the start of the 2015 legislative session, no less than four so-called “background check” bills were filed, differing only in minor details, but all sharing the same basic features. Each would require any transfer of a firearm (we’re not just talking about sales … if you’re out plinking in the desert, and you hand your friend a gun, that’s a transfer) to go through a federally licensed gun dealer, and any violation would be a felony offense. That means you would lose your right to bear arms on conviction. These bills were introduced by members of an anti-rights minority, knowing full well that they stood little chance of passage. But they served another purpose. They opened the door for Bloomberg’s minions to able to say that the legislature failed to take any action on their priorities, which they will, of course, claim are everyone’s priorities, so they now must take their bill to the ballot.
Presumably, we should hand over our right to do as we will with our own private property, and surrender yet another portion of our right to bear arms, for some presumed benefit, but the proponents of this scheme have yet to make clear what this is. It can’t possibly be catching more criminals, because the current background check system only has an approximately 2% denial rate, and of those denials, roughly one quarter are appealed, and roughly one third of those are reversed. In fact, in a 2010 study by the Department of Justice, they found that only forty-four cases were actually prosecuted that year, resulting in only thirteen convictions. So much for catching bad guys.
So why the big push to get every transfer to go through a dealer? Could it have something to do with the fact that the dealer is required to record all the information on the gun and the transferee into his record books? And with the fact that all that information winds up with the BATFE eventually? Let’s call it what it is …registration. You can’t have effective registration if all the privately owned firearms aren’t included. Now you know why they keep calling it a “loophole.”
Keeping Our Heads Above Water
We know registration is the end game. We know their resources are basically unlimited. We know ours are not. So how do we fight AND win? To paraphrase Sun Tzu, never fight the enemy on ground of their choosing. Make them come to you, and fight you on your terms.
AzCDL is promoting a State Compact bill. This legislation provides our best opportunity to derail the coming Bloomberg financed ballot measure to establish gun owner registration in Arizona before it happens. The passage of such legislation would create an interstate compact that restricts member states from enacting firearms transfer requirements greater than existing federal law. In essence, this would create a ceiling that state law could not exceed. Current federal law has no limitations on intrastate private party firearm transfers between law-abiding citizens. Any states that join the compact would be pledging to each other to keep it that way. Since compacts are considered binding contracts between states under the U.S. Constitution, they cannot be undone by succeeding legislation, including ballot initiatives, unless provided for in the compact itself. So Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies can spend all the millions they want to spend putting their registration scheme on the ballot, but if we can get our state compact legislation passed, they’ll have to spend millions more battling through that in court. Millions that they’ll likely lose in the end.
Riding the Storm Out
Many would like to believe that Arizona is far too freedom loving a state to succumb to such tactics. We are not Washington, after all. But we would ask you to re-read the opening paragraph again. Six full time employees …$4 million dollars. In a state where the predominant population is far more receptive to the message, they were ready and able to do whatever it took to get the job done. Remember that Arizona, twice voted the best state in the nation for gun owners by Guns & Ammo magazine, is the big prize. We face an opponent with practically unlimited resources, one that will spend whatever it takes to get what they want. Don’t think for a second that we’re immune.
Help us fight this threat!