Mike Bloomberg's minions – and his money – have flooded into the state of Maine in recent weeks, launching a massive assault on the rights of Maine gun owners. Bloomberg, through his subsidiary groups, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, has launched a petition drive to get a background check and registration initiative on the ballot for the 2016 elections. The groups are hiring teams of professional signature gatherers to collect the 61,123 signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot, and have vowed to do "whatever it takes" to accomplish their goals.
Since making firearm restrictions one of his pet projects, Bloomberg has demonstrated that "whatever it takes" isn't just a propaganda slogan, but an actual commitment. So far, that "whatever it takes" has included more than $100 million in misleading advertising, distorted "research," campaign contributions and professional lobbyists. When the Bloomies say "whatever it takes," they mean "whatever," including lying, exploiting tragedies and selling out their principles to get their way. If they succeed with the petitions, the next step will be millions more spent to convince Maine voters to throw away their rights, and then on to the next state to repeat the process.
A similar proposal was passed last year in Washington state, with Bloomberg and his billionaire pals ponying up more than $10 million to make it a criminal act to even loan a gun to a friend without first paying a fee and getting a government permission slip. They then gathered enough signatures to put their restrictive bill on the 2016 ballot in Nevada, and managed to push their legislation through the Oregon House and Senate. In Nevada, Bloomberg paid signature gatherers as much as $5 per signature to get the numbers they needed, and many of those same, Bloomberg-paid signature gatherers were also collecting signatures on petitions to get a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot – a measure that Bloomberg has vocally opposed and called "stupid."
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An effort was begun earlier this year to bring the restrictive initiative to Arizona, but after establishing a presence in the state, and laying some groundwork, the effort appears to have stalled for the moment. It looks like Bloomberg's advisers have determined that the political climate and initiative laws in Maine are more favorable. Arizona has often been identified as the most "gun-friendly" state in the country, and that position has been earned with the well-organized efforts of grassroots groups like the Arizona Citizens Defense League, the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, numerous shooting clubs and a robust firearm and firearm-related industry. And unlike many states, activists in Arizona generally work well together and cooperate rather than competing.
On the other side of the country, Maine is in a very different situation. While the state has historically enjoyed both minimal gun-control laws and very low crime rates, it's close to bastions of gun control like New York and Massachusetts, and has seen major shifts in its political base as young natives leave to find better jobs in other states while well-heeled refugees from heavily restrictive states have migrated to the fresh air and freedom of The Pine Tree State. There has also been a major influx of immigrants from Somalia and Central Africa, bringing with them different cultural values and widespread perceptions of increased crime and violence. Of course, like migrants everywhere, many of the new residents are determined to establish the same sort of laws and restrictions that they are familiar with from their home regions.
Perhaps most importantly, Maine, like Nevada, has never had a strong network of Second Amendment advocates. They hadn't really needed them. The organizations that do exist in the state are either old-line hook-and-bullet "sportsmen" groups with little taste or skill for the political arena, or newer groups just getting established. The emerging leader of the rights movement in Maine is the group Gun Owners of Maine, which has made some impressive progress in the legislative arena – this year successfully pushing a "Constitutional Carry" law repealing requirements for government permits to legally carry a concealed firearm – but they are a young organization with limited resources, relatively small membership and mailing lists, and little experience with public relations or political campaigns.
The Firearms Coalition has been active in anti-Bloomberg strategy and coalition building in Nevada and Arizona, and is helping groups in Maine as well, but these battles must be fought and won by the people who will suffer under the laws that are passed. That means that groups like Gun Owners of Maine must rise to the challenge and lead the charge.
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Facing Bloomberg's billions and his skilled team of professional PR flaks is a daunting challenge, but it must be done, and it must start now. Lovers of freedom need to be ready to reveal Bloomberg's carpetbagging deceivers for what they are. Mainers cannot count on an outside organization like the NRA to ride in and save the day. They have to step up, get involved, and defend their rights. Gun Owners of Maine is a good place to start. The group is already coordinating with other organizations around the state, and across the country, to meet the Bloomberg threat head-on. Readers interested in helping with this fight should visit GunOwnersofMaine.org and provide whatever support you can.
Win or lose, Bloomberg and his ilk are not going to give up with Maine, they are going to keep pushing their repressive agenda at every opportunity and in every state. But with each victory they grow stronger, and with each defeat, they are weakened. If we can beat them back in Maine, we have a better chance of stopping them when they try to push their restrictive policies in your state. Don't wait for someone else to do it. Stand up.
Media wishing to interview Jeff Knox, please contact [email protected].