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Background checks the focus: Dueling gun control initiatives in Seattle

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Can big donations shore up shoddy gun control state legislation? No, insists Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, a 650,000-member grass-roots organization based in Washington state. Mr. Gottlieb opposes Initiative 594. The proposed legislation will be on the public ballot in the fall and would require background checks for all gun sales and transfers in Washington — gun shows and private transactions included.

Mr. Gottlieb is also not so keen about billionaire Bill Gates' decision to donate a cool $1 million to a voter outreach campaign that backs the initiative. Mr. Gottlieb, in fact, has challenged the uber-wealthy Seattle resident to a debate.

"It's time for Gates to put his mouth where his money is. It's one thing to be for background checks, but I-594 is [a] poorly written, bad law, and all the money in the world won't make it better," he says.

"If Gates accepts, I expect him to explain why he thinks I-594 is such a hot idea when the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association — the largest and most highly respected law enforcement groups in the state — oppose the measure," Mr. Gottlieb continues.

"Gates should also make sure that if he accepts, his bodyguards do not loan each other firearms, because that would be prohibited under the language of the gun control initiative he's funding. I won't bring bodyguards, because I don't have any. My defense is the facts," he says.

But some things please Mr. Gottlieb.

Initiative 591, also on the ballot, "protects against illegal search and seizure, preventing politicians and bureaucrats driven by an antirights agenda from depriving citizens of their property without due process," he notes.

And the explanation from the voter pamphlet for the initiative itself reads: "591 protects background check uniformity and prevents unwarranted intrusion by the state into temporary firearm loans to friends or in-laws. It stops the state from creating a universal gun registry that could enable future confiscation. Maintaining balance between privacy rights and public safety is what 591 is about."

COULD MITT MANIA BECOME A RYAN RENAISSANCE?

And so the Mitt Mania continues, with potential: The public rediscovery of Mitt Romney may evolve into a renaissance for Rep. Paul Ryan if time and circumstance are right. We shall see. For now, Iowa loves Mr. Romney more than any other Republican: In a field of 14 potential GOP presidential candidates, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday finds Mr. Romney garnering 35 percent of the vote, with Mike Huckabee in a very distant second with 9 percent. He in turn is followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rick Santorum (each with 6 percent), Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (both with 5 percent) and the aforementioned Mr. Ryan, Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, each with 4 percent.

And, of course, Mr. Romney continues to be coy about his intent on running for anything, remaining the jovial campaigner in chief. Meanwhile, his former 2012 running mate Mr. Ryan is increasing his public presence with care and cunning. He'll make a splashy appearance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Thursday, in fact. The Wisconsin lawmaker also claims he hopes Mr. Romney will change his mind and go for the White House — a vignette that he repeats, which plays well in the press and before the public.

The most interesting moment of all would be if Mr. Romney endorses Mr. Ryan as a candidate for 2016, an event that would require exquisite and microscopically calibrated timing, indeed.

THE GOP'S GROWING EDGE

Every last iota of support, every lit bit of positivity — and even a psychological edge — counts in the midterm elections, as both the Democrat and Republican parties wrangle over undecided and swing voters. On Tuesday, a big fat Pew Research Center poll reported that Republicans are now more optimistic about that big date in November. Now Gallup has more news of same.

"One in three Americans (33 percent) say they have given 'quite a lot' or "some" thought to the 2014 midterm election, up from 26 percent in April. Importantly, Republicans (42 percent) are much more engaged than Democrats (27 percent) in the election at this point," says ever-vigilant Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones.

That's a 15 percentage point gap.

"Democrats need strong turnout to minimize the potential seat losses in Congress that occur in nearly every midterm election for the president's party. But with Republicans much more engaged in the election at this point than Democrats — and by one of the larger margins in recent midterm election years — the odds of strong Democratic turnout seem low, suggesting 2014 could be a good year for Republicans. Even if the Republican advantage narrows considerably by Election Day, as seen in 2010, Republicans seem poised to have the upper hand in turnout," Mr. Jones observes.

NOW THIS IS ASYMMETRIC

"21st-century warfare: ISIS co-opts Twitter hashtags to spread threats, propaganda."

— An assessment by Glenn Reynolds, the "Instapundit" for PJ Media.

THE MERITS OF JINDAL'S LAWSUIT

Yes, interpretations have been many about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's lawsuit challenging the rigid federal standards for the nation's youngsters, as defined by the Common Core curriculum. But his motivation may not be entirely political, some say.

"It's about time a governor has stepped up to the plate to bat for his citizens instead of the federal government. It's clear Gov. Jindal is looking at a presidential run in 2016, but it is also clear that his aspirations in that regard have keenly attuned his ears to what voters of all political persuasions are concerned about," says Joy Pullmann, an educational research fellow with the The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit.

"And his lawsuit is right on the merits: In pushing, funding and evaluating Common Core and its tests, the federal government has stepped right into nearly every American child's classroom. This is both illegal and a bad idea, and polls show most Americans agree," she says.

POLL DU JOUR

49 percent of Americans say the Islamic State is an "immediate and serious" threat to the U.S.; 73 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents agree.

39 percent of Americans overall consider al-Qaeda an immediate, serious threat to the U.S.; 49 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents agree.

38 percent overall favor cooperating with Syria to resolve the "current crisis in Iran"; 39 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents agree.

45 percent say the U.S. must "destroy" the Islamic State"; 70 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents agree.

27 percent overall say it is "a matter for Iraqis to solve"; 17 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 995 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 23-25.

Valiant vows, petulant proclamations to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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