Bill Gates and other Microsoft alumni donate funds backing Washington gun safety law

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.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer via Venture Beat | Image via Microsoft

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This is certainly not going to "fix" that societal problem of mass shootings. It will simply punish law abiding citizens who posses guns through legal documentation. Are they going to ban knives too? Because people go on stabbing rampages?

Punish may not be the best word, but it will take away a man/woman's right to defend themselves like is stated in the constitution. It is a constitutional right bear arms in some states in America. What I am saying is, the government is not going to solve the problem of gun violence merely by banning guns.

What is it with people against background checks? If you're not a crazy and don't have a criminal background you can still keep your guns... geez. I mean if you really want someone who belong in a psych ward or people who have felonies being able to purchase guns I hope they're your neighbors and not mine...

Although it is America so you do have the freedom to have that view point. Just don't be a hypocrite and do a 180 the day one of those psycho's or felon's with a gun does something horrible in your community or something more personal such as to a loved one. Remember... you supported their right to purchase a gun. Just deal with the tragedy by putting a positive spin on it like you did with other peoples.

The major problem with allowing ourselves to be subject to background checks is that we'd have to TRUST government not to abuse that power...they absolutely would as they have with EVERY other power we've given government. They would soon do just as they've done with no fly lists, terror watch lists, surveillance etc. They would LIE to us about everything, incrementally ratchet up the restrictions, then deny legitimate people the right to carry for any number of reasons. It's too important. Freedom isn't free and if you can't or won't understand that, too bad. Government isn't here to care about you, they're here to control you and this is one of the best ways to quell an uppity public, take away their ability to fight back...you are helping to destroy your own country because of liberal nonsense and willful ignorance.

So how come that isn't currently happening with the existing background check system? All I hear is nonsensical babble about freedom.

Bill Gates, either you have become an absolute moron or you have become an absolute political hack to keep your former co. out of the feds spotlight. I would give a pass for the later but your stupid justification for Common Core bullcrap tells me you have allowed propaganda to enter your psyche and your wealth go to your head. You are now an official elitist that is destroying all that you made great. You revolutionized the world with a standardized OS anyone could use and the power you brought to the common man which brought much of corporate America to their knees with an all new threat to their monopoly of business power. Now you want to push common core which will essential dumb down the country thus granting the age old American power of exceptionalism to other mainly communist countries since your new math with assure NO AMERICAN can code! I used to idol your business sense and savvy but now, I just want to you go into the dust heap of history before you destroy all your credibility.

While I fully support the right to bear arms, I find it nonsensical that we don't do background checks on private guns sales in the US. If a background check stops one horrible act by some lunatic, it would be worth it. No, it won't prevent everything, as the US is literally awash in guns, but it would help.

Good for Mr Gates.

I respect what the Bill & Melinda foundation is doing for the 3rd world, in terms of health, clean water, sanitation, and medical initiatives.

But he's travelled enough of the world to know better. He's seen what happens, first hand, when you remove the right to bear arms, the right to self defence, from the average citizen. Africa is a case study in what happens when only the elite and the unlawful have the ability to bear arms.

For as much as people like to complain about the state of firearm ownership in the US, and the violence that surrounds it, these same people need to step out of their narrow first world viewpoint, and look at the larger world and historical context.

If he promoted safety training and awareness programs, I could support that.

But what he's supporting here is a limitation on the ability for average people to acquire and possess the best means of self defence available to the general public. And that should not be supported.

And before anyone quotes the old trope of "you're more likely to kill yourself with a gun..." I should point out that this simply doesn't hold true. The CDC report on Gun Violence in America, commissioned by Obama in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, tore apart this, among many other pro gun control arguments:

- the estimated number of defensive uses of guns ranges "from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year."

- "Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies."

- "There is empirical evidence that gun turn-in programs are ineffective."

- "Whether gun restrictions reduce firearm-related violence is an unresolved issue."

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/082113-668335-cdc-gun-violence-study-goes-against-media-narrative.htm

I am not an American, but I follow this issue closely from the outside. As much as the violence on the nightly news appalls me, I would ask all of you to seriously consider what you are giving up, when you give up this fundamental freedom that you enjoy.

Why don't you come and study what happens in the uk rather then Africa if you want a truer comparison.
The absolute best way to prevent gun death (not that we are free from it) is to restrict guns pretty much completely.

The right to bear arms is from a different time period and that should be acknowledged.

Grelmar said,
I respect what the Bill & Melinda foundation is doing for the 3rd world, in terms of health, clean water, sanitation, and medical initiatives.

But he's travelled enough of the world to know better. He's seen what happens, first hand, when you remove the right to bear arms, the right to self defence, from the average citizen.

I stopped reading right there since he's not trying to remove the right to bear arms or the right to self defense. As a law abiding citizen, I can still purchase a firearm so I don't really understand what you're getting at.

Did you read what this law would do? It would not take away guns from people, nowhere does it say that. It would require background checks, and only people that shouldn't have guns in the first place would be affected. Do you honestly want someone with a mental issue or a criminal record owning guns?

http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/violent%20crime.html

1996 is when Australia brought in their draconian gun laws. Is this what you want?

And for those who argue that it's "just a background check"...

What you fail to comprehend is that criminals don't acquire their firearms through legal channels anyway. This proposition does not affect them.

"Do you honestly want someone with a mental issue or a criminal record owning guns?"

Read the CDC report. By their own admission, gun control measures simply do not prevent criminals from acquiring firearms.

And as far as mental issues... By who's definition? Keep in mind that to this day, the DSMV struggles with how it defines homesexuality and trans gender...

http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2012/07/23/dsm-replaces-gender-identity-disorder-gender-dysphoria

You do not, understand, what you are risking.

Online sales already require FFL transfer and it cuts out the possibility of sales at gun shows, but I ask you, how many gun crimes are committed with legally owned guns vs. illegally owned guns? If these people really cared, then they would work to apply the laws we already have and prosecute all the government employees involved in shipping arms to drug cartels (arms which are illegal for US citizens to own under the unconstitutional NFA) which are being used to kill our citizens caught up in drug war crossfire.

londan said,
Why don't you come and study what happens in the uk rather then Africa if you want a truer comparison.

Why is that a truer comparison? Is the assumption that American culture is identical to the UK? Or is it because we are both first world countries and so its the same? Because, my guess is that the two are very different from each other.

For instance... Tea Party vs Boston Tea Party. Soccer (football) vs Football. Cricket vs Baseball. A Democracy(or Constitutional monarchy? Or Representative democracy?) vs a Republic. 243,610 km² vs 3.794 million sq miles. 63+ million people vs 317+ million people. So, really, the USA and the UK differ is SO many ways that is not a fair comparison either... That doesnt even touch upon the vastly different struggles and conflicts within the "states" or entities themselves.

The absolute best way to prevent gun death (not that we are free from it) is to restrict guns pretty much completely.

The best way to prevent over eatting is to remove any trace of food at all. But that wont address the hunger issue... The problem isnt guns, its people using guns to MURDER PEOPLE. That is the problem. If its not guns it will be something else =(.

The right to bear arms is from a different time period and that should be acknowledged.

Right. It was from another time period. But does that make it invalid? Please explain why this still isnt true and should just be dismissed? The threat of arms is a foundation of the US Constitution and there better be 100% certainty that it is no longer needed before we even consider not having it. Can you please tell us why we have that in the first place? Then tell us why its not effective now? I am 100% certain it IS needed and will continue to maintain that right =).

1996 is when Australia brought in their draconian gun laws. Is this what you want?

And why don't you look at the number of TOTAL gun deaths since 1996? Oh wait because if you did, then you'll notice they've gone from 516 (1996) to less than 200 (2011).

And as far as mental issues... By who's definition? Keep in mind that to this day, the DSMV struggles with how it defines homesexuality and trans gender...

Did you seriously just compare mental issues to homosexuality and transgender? Lol wut?

Now I don't think this will reduce gun violence by much since most people who do commit them do obtain their guns illegally (or through a family member who doesn't lock their guns up properly) but please don't post silly facts to back up your point.

Grelmar said,
You do not, understand, what you are risking.

I think the same could be applied to what you're asking in reverse. By the logic of those who are against pretty much any changes to the current gun laws, you would rather leave things as they are and make ZERO changes, while the mass murders and accidental deaths continue. You do not, understand, what you are risking by continuing to arrogantly ignore reality.

Criminals will get a hold of guns regardless. No one is arguing against that. However, those guns came from somewhere. If even 1% of those who would normally be allowed to purchase a gun, couldn't because of some of the more strict requirements that have been recommended a million times, that's something. That is an effort. It takes away the opportunity for a "criminal" to steal a gun. Crying like a spoiled brat because "Boo hoo my rights are being infringed!" doesn't resolve anything. Action does.

The mere fact that most would rather choose to hold on to their guns instead of figuring out a way to resolve all the unnecessary and horrible deaths, should be enough to strip most of you of your firearms simply for having severe mental issues. Your right to carry a gun should never trump the life of another human being. Let alone thousands of them.

Prime example... Chicago before Illinois got ccw and after, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/24/chicago-crime-rate-drops-as-concealed-carry-gun-pe/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

There is a little known law fortunately called the The Dick Act of 1902 also known as the Efficiency of Militia Bill H.R. 11654, of June 28, 1902 invalidates all so-called gun-control laws. It also divides the militia into three distinct and separate entities.

also: The Dick Act of 1902 cannot be repealed; to do so would violate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws which would be yet another gross violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The President of the United States has zero authority without violating the Constitution to call the National Guard to serve outside of their State borders.

I live in Nevada and in our states constitution: "Nevada

Updated as of Monday, April 21, 2014.

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION

“Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.”
Article 1, Section 11, Paragraph 1. "

Good luck with getting any anti gun laws through with the very powerful gun lobby. Most of the worlds guns are already in the hands of Americans and of course it should be that way because of the beloved constitution. As an outsider its crazy watching you all kill each other like this and I see Americas gun laws as a blue print for how the rest of the world should not be. God Bless America.

derekaw said,
... As an outsider its crazy watching you all kill each other like this and I see Americas gun laws as a blue print for how the rest of the world should not be. God Bless America.

For as often as I disagree with you, I'm in complete agreement here.

Ralph3100 said,
So then we move to legislation like that of the UK proposing to ban all kitchen knives over 6 inches when this doesn't work?

Is there a point here?

Living in the UK, I feel safe, I also feel that I have self-defense without the need of a gun, or a knife over 6 inches. The American amendments are outdated, written from another time, the country has changed, so have peoples attitudes. You will never stop gun crime, but you dont need to fight fire with fire. Owning a gun for self-defense is rubbish, it is an offensive weapon not a defensive one.

Small step in the right direction, lets hope it passes. It blows my mind (no pun itended) that this is not already law.

Serious question: Does Bill Gates employ body guards and if so, are they armed? If the answer is yes, then he is just another rich, powerful individual using his money to impose how he thinks it should be on the rest of us. You might agree with him, but I do not.

I still don't understand this argument. These new proposals are not meant to disarm people or take away their right for protection. Stricter background checks are just at least what I thought a means of helping prevent those like the mentally ill from purchasing.
We all know that yes there are many illegal channels to still get a gun, and yes I for one would like to see more on closing this side. And yes I will agree that many of todays laws don't work, but at least people are trying to improving things

AR556 said,
Backgrounds checks don't do much when the person is stealing weapons or buying them illegally.

And murder is illegal but it doesn't stop it. However we try and educate people that murder is wrong.

AR556 said,
Backgrounds checks don't do much when the person is stealing weapons or buying them illegally.

You went from a nonsensical argument to a terrible one. What you're essentially saying is we should not enact laws because criminals will still commit crimes. We should have background checks that cover all "legal" transactions.

It's utterly brainless knee-jerk comments like this that make many non-gun folk assume all gun owners are completely incompetent.

Honestly what kind of argument is that? I bet to wager majority of the gun owners in this country are in fact not rich.

It's NewtoWn, Connecticut! Anyway, I'm sorry they're wasting their money on a measure that won't make a difference to the goal they are trying to achieve (lowering gun violence). They shooter in Newtown stole the guns from his mother, he didn't buy them at a gun show.

Yep. Nobody ever actually looks at what led up to a shooting, and how it could actually be prevented. Instead they just knee-jerk with some new law that wouldn't have made a difference anyway.

I'm not saying I'm against more background checks, but a law like this wouldn't have done anything to prevent recent shootings...

JonathanMarston said,
Yep. Nobody ever actually looks at what led up to a shooting, and how it could actually be prevented. Instead they just knee-jerk with some new law that wouldn't have made a difference anyway.

I'm not saying I'm against more background checks, but a law like this wouldn't have done anything to prevent recent shootings...

Have you ever thought it might be to try and prevent future shootings. And you know for a fact no person has ever been shot, robbed or otherwise who didn't have background checks ?

Depicus said,

Have you ever thought it might be to try and prevent future shootings. And you know for a fact no person has ever been shot, robbed or otherwise who didn't have background checks ?

I am sure there has been. But out of the major tragedies the last few years ALL would have passed a background check and none of them would have even bought a gun...

I think its time we stop using guns as an escape goat and try to identify the real problem here. Is it mental disorder? A narcissistic generation/culture? A society of people who feel unknown, unloved, and uncared for? Is it media dwelling on the evil people do who make other people want to do it? Parenting? Social media? Disconnect with reality? Depression?

Basically, if people want to hurt people they will. If people want to kill people they will. If you take the gun factor away it will be another one...

Scabrat said,

I am sure there has been. But out of the major tragedies the last few years ALL would have passed a background check and none of them would have even bought a gun...

I think its time we stop using guns as an escape goat ...

No, pretty much every death by gun is gun related so guns are not a scape goat but a major cause of deaths by gun.

Depicus said,
I would love to know your reasoning behind that "statement".

He wants to take our guns /s

This is such an American concept. Have fun with that battle, WA.

Depicus said,
Having seen the news of a 9 year old girl killing her instructor with a Uzi I have to wonder WTF Merica WTF !!!

WTF America? A few people who were dumb enough to give a9yr old an uzi does not represent America. Idiots like that EVERYWHERE.

Unfortunately it does represent a large amount of U.S. citizens. Accidental discharge of guns kills every year between 800-1500 people. And those are only the fatalities, who knows how many guns go off with and without insuring someone. I assume that rate is many times larger than the fatality rate. It costs the US health care system and social security millions upon millions year after year.
A simple discharge in your own leg (like this guy: http://negligentdischarge.com/leg.html) can keep you off work for month or worse you could become disabled.
Every one of these accidents cost the tax payer millions.

Dang, maybe we should make cars and puddles of water illegal to... Idiots everywhere and can cause death of a person with pretty much anything, people need to get off their high horses. Criminals will get their guns, if they don't know if you're concealed carry they are less likely to cause you death. Do I wish that guns could be used only for sport, absolutely. Same as a ball bat

We do, cars and water are regulated to make them safe. So because there are idiots we should just give up trying to make peoples lives safer ?

Gungel said,
Unfortunately it does represent a large amount of U.S. citizens. Accidental discharge of guns kills every year between 800-1500 people

Considering the population of the US is roughly 350 billion, 1500 people is not a large amount of US citizens.

techbeck said,

Considering the population of the US is roughly 350 billion, 1500 people is not a large amount of US citizens.

I think you mean 350 million and yes 1,500 is not a huge amount until one of those 1,500 is somebody you know or a member of your family.

The USA has a homicide rate of 3 per 100,000 whereas the UK is 0.04....