At SHOT Show 2015, I had a candid conversation with Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
Gottlieb, a native of Washington State, is coming off the heels of a devastating loss to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who funded — to the tune of $4 million — efforts to pass ballot Initiative 594, a draconian universal background check measure that the SAF fought tooth and nail to defeat.
I-594 was passed in November. Now Gottlieb and his legal team are challenging various provisions of the measure in court. However, it’s an uphill battle and it’s unlikely that I-594 will be repealed altogether, as Alan acknowledged in my interview.
What’s fascinating is that Gottlieb saw this day coming. He predicted that this would happen if gun owners refused to negotiate on the issue of background checks. To that end, Alan was one of the few — maybe the only — high-profile, pro-gun leader to openly support the 2013 Manchin-Toomey amendment, a federal bill that would have mandated background checks for private transfers, including those made over the Internet and at gun shows.
Unlike Bloomberg’s universal background check bills, the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey amendment contained some perks for gun owners, including, as Gottlieb noted back then, “interstate sales of handguns, veteran gun rights restoration, travel with firearms protection, civil and criminal immunity lawsuit protection, and most important of all, the guarantee that people, including federal officers, will go to federal prison for up to 15 years if they attempt to use any gun sales records to set up a gun registry.”
As we know now the Senate failed to pass the Manchin-Toomey amendment in the Spring of 2013 which then opened up the door for Bloomberg to go state by state and ram through his draconian background check agenda. Washington State was one of the first states to fall victim to the Bloomberg machine.
Since compromising no longer appears to be an option, I asked Alan what we can do to stop Bloomberg and his campaign to criminalize private transfers.
“Like it or not the American people support the term ‘background check,’ they support the concept of it even though they know it won’t work to keep guns out of the hands of criminals they figure ‘well if criminals aren’t supposed to have guns what’s the big deal about a background check,'” said Gottlieb.
“The truth is that most gun owners support that too. So, our problem is that when the other side writes these laws they write them in ways that really screw over us big time: create registration system, unnecessary fees, all kinds of regulations, red tape, really make it harder for people to use firearms for legitimate purposes,” he continued, obviously lamenting the fact that negotiated terms weren’t reached.
“I don’t have a magic bullet for this, I wish I did. But the gun rights lobby needs to be talking about this like I’ve been screaming, preaching for the last two years. We need to lead and not follow on this issue or we’re going to lose,” Gottlieb explained. “I don’t like predicting that we’re going to lose, and I know people on our side don’t like hear that, but if we don’t do something that’s going to be the bottom line result. We need to fight smart, and quite frankly, we haven’t been doing it.”
Do you agree with Alan? Do we need to go to the negotiating table and try to figure out a way to end this matter in a way that is at least somewhat favorable to gun owners?
(Below is an interview I did with Alan back in 2013, following the defeat of Manchin-Toomey, H/T Guns.com)