The recent infusion of $3 million from local zillionaires Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, and Nick Hanauer, has drawn national attention to Washington’s Initiative 594, which would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by finally imposing universal criminal background checks on all private gun sales in the state. And it’s got national pundits wondering if the NRA has finally met its match.
Yesterday in the Daily Beast, columnist Cliff Schector suggested that in Bill Gates, “the NRA pissed off the wrong nerd genius.” And then last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell repeated the theme, ending with NRA lobbyist Brian Judy’s infamous background-checks-equal-Hitler audio. “I think the rule is, when you reach for Nazi Germany, you know you’re losing,” concludes O’Donnell.
To be clear, this has been a very bad month for the NRA, which has been running silent ever since I released Judy’s anti-Semitic comments back on July 28. A month later, local and national coverage of I-594 still leads with that audio, and the NRA remains speechless. At this point it’s not only preventing the NRA from fighting I-594, it’s also interfering with its ability to lobby Washington lawmakers in advance of the coming legislative session.
Generally, I’m not a fan of really rich people buying their issues onto the ballot. But I’m also not a fan of fighting a political battle with one hand tied behind my back. The NRA has enjoyed the money advantage for far too long. It is entertaining watching them run up against an even wealthier foe.