Washington State Senate race draws big anti-gun bucks


Up for grabs: The Washington Legislature in a special election that has gun prohibitionists kicking in big money. (Dave Workman)

A bare knuckles political race to fill an empty seat in the Washington State Senate – potentially shifting control from Republicans to Democrats – is drawing some big money from the gun prohibition lobby and essentially puts the lie to a perennial claim by anti-gunners that the National Rifle Association buys elections.

According to state Public Disclosure Commission data, Democrat Manka Dhingra has received a whopping $18,305.67 from the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility and another $2,000 from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a founder of the anti-gun lobbying group and big financial backer of Initiative 594, which requires so-called “universal background checks.”

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A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a legal challenge to the initiative, but only after a long legal battle that saw the state legislature actually amend provisions of the measure. As noted by the court:

While this appeal was pending, the Washington Legislature amended the statutory provisions added by I-594 to clarify that the background check requirement does not apply to “circumstances in which the transferee and the firearm remain in the presence of the transferor.”…Northwest School of Safety, Puget Sound Security, Inc., and Pacific Northwest Association of Investigators, Inc. concede that this amendment renders their appeals moot.”

The court said the remainder of the plaintiffs in this case lack standing because no criminal charges have been filed. But Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation said nobody should have to face criminal charges simply to challenge an unjust law.

“Standing to be able to bring a lawsuit to protect a fundamental enumerated constitutional right should not be dependent on an imminent threat of prosecution. The Courts would never apply that standard to the First Amendment. You should not have to go to jail before challenging a law that is unconstitutional. This was just a way not to hear the merits of the case.”—Alan Gottlieb, SAF

Meanwhile, according to the PDC, the Alliance has also spent $5,285.95 to defeat Dhingra’s opponent, Republican Jinyoung Englund.

Now, compare all that money to what gun rights groups have spent. The Gun Owners Action League of Washington has contributed a comparatively small amount of $2,073.74 to Englund’s campaign, and the NRA are essentially pikers, contributing $125 to the Englund campaign and spending $375 against Dhingra.

What’s all this about? It looks like millions of dollars are being spent on a race for a position that pays peanuts by comparison.

But for the anti-gun crowd, the stakes are sky high. In an email fundraising blast earlier this month aimed at putting Democrats in charge to push their gun control agenda, the Alliance declared, “We can do that by flipping the Washington state Senate blue in November and putting a true gun violence prevention champion in office. That champion is Manka Dhingra, who’s already proposed three gun violence prevention measures that she plans to introduce if she wins next month.”

The Seattle P-I.com’s political columnist Joel Connelly also reports that anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg has kicked in some big money.

One big surprise for political pundits was the Seattle Times’ endorsement of Republican Englund for this critical post. In its editorial, the newspaper noted:

“Englund makes a persuasive case that her election will preserve a ‘balance of government’ that will better serve Washington state. For that reason, voters in the 45th should elect her.

“In 2012, had three Democratic senators not crossed the aisle to join Republicans in wresting control from the Democrats, Washington state would be in much worse shape. Case in point is the four-year budget rule. Requiring the state budget to be balanced over four years limits the ability of free-spending lawmakers to use gimmicks to balance the budget.

“Make no mistake. That rule will be among the targets of a Democratic majority.”

Second Amendment activists say it’s a safe bet that another target of a Democratic majority will be their gun rights.

Gun prohibitionists are eager to erode the rights of law-abiding Evergreen State gun owners. They’ve passed two initiatives already, and may have their sights set on other efforts. They don’t care for the state’s “shall issue” concealed carry law, under which about 590,000 concealed pistol licenses have been issued, and they want desperately to undo state preemption, which has been the law since 1983.

They evidently believe that by putting Dhingra in the Senate, they will have an open road to do all of this.

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