Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bluegrass Bruce: Battle Over Background Checks At Gun Rights Policy Conference


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Battle Over Background Checks At Gun Rights Policy Conference

A heated dispute over background checks erupted at the Gun Rights Policy Conference last week between Second Amendment Foundation leader Alan Gottlieb and gun activist Jeff Knox.

Knox, the son of gun rights pioneer Neal Knox, challenged Gottlieb over an initiative that Gottlieb is supporting on this year’s ballot in Washington State (I-591). The measure, which Gottlieb wrote, prohibits background checks in the state “unless a uniform national standard is required”.

As Knox pointed out at the GRPC, this language leaves the door wide open for a federal background check system. After Knox asked Gottlieb to defend this portion of the bill, Gottlieb launched into a full-scale support of background checks.

Gottlieb’s argument – which he has also made in the past – is that gun rights supporters should embrace background checks because they are inevitable. Pointing to polls stating that a majority of voters support background checks, he says that gun rights supporters are only hurting themselves by opposing them.

Gottlieb’s position infuriates no-compromise gun rights activists, who see any background check legislation as the first step on a slippery slope toward a federal gun registry. At the gun rights policy conference, Knox was joined by a chorus of audience members in ripping into Gottlieb’s argument.

But Gottlieb’s support of background checks also raises questions about his true motives in promoting I-591. Since he is such a big believer on background checks, why is he sponsoring a ballot initiative that theoretically bans them in the state of Washington? Why go to the trouble of writing and promoting a law that you fundamentally don’t agree with?

The answer is simple: money. Gottlieb is promoting I-591 not because he cares so much about banning background checks – clearly he doesn’t – but because he sees the law as an opportunity to conduct fundraising for his gun rights groups. So far, he claims to have nearly $1 million. 

How much of that has he spent fighting for gun rights, and how much has he kept for himself? Is there any purpose to I-591 other than lining Alan Gottlieb’s pockets?

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