Microsoft employees have been long been involved in political measures in Washington, and now some of their former leaders are providing the largest funds ever given to an initiative for gun safety in the state.
This week, Bill and Melinda Gates donated $1 million to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility in support of Initiative 594, a state bill that proposes criminal background checks for private gun sales in Washington, such as online transactions. The couple each donated $500,000 to the group, and they had also each previously given $25,000, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Bill Gates isn’t the only former Microsoft leader to donate to the group, however – former CEO Steve Ballmer donated $125,000 (a contribution his wife matched), and co-founder Paul Allen gave $500,000. With the Gates’ donation, about $6 million has been given in support of Initiative 594; an opposition group, Protect Our Gun Rights, has raised $1.062 million, according to the Post-Intelligencer.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility was founded following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 elementary students were murdered. Similar calls for criminal and mental background checks for gun purchases were proposed at the federal level, but all proposed mandates were defeated.
Bill and Melinda Gates have donated millions of dollars to extensive education initatives, which is likely a factor behind their support of Initiative 594. While much of the money has gone directly to education institutions, a good portion has also gone to changing policy at the local, state and national levels. Microsoft employees, meanwhile, have a storied history of donating millions to charity and political endeavors.