The Billionaire Who Made Gun Control His Pet Issue

I do consider Mike Bloomberg’s money a serious threat to our Second Amendment rights. When it comes down to it, he can pay people to stand up against us and pay for ads to take up every single commercial break in key media markets. Like it or not, money talks and influences.

However, I was recently reminded about that other billionaire white old man who figured that if he could just throw enough money at the issue and start a new group with an innocent sounding name, then he could get more gun control. Anyone remember Andrew McKelvey and Americans for Gun Safety?

Back in 2001, AGS shot onto the scene by suddenly spending more than $1.8 million on lobbying Congress for gun control. This came after some federal spending in 2000, as well as a big state push focused on Colorado. Regardless, their 2001 reports showed more than seven times the spending levels of the Brady Campaign, VPC, and CSGV combined in the same year. (Remember, this was back when those groups actually had some money to spend.) Beyond their own internal lobbying expenses, they also hired two additional lobbying firms.

The following year, they dropped their federal lobbying expenditures to just under $1.4 million, but they were still the big lobbying players in the game in total spending and by expanding to hire three lobby shops to assist them.

In 2003, their lobbying efforts had fallen to less than $700,000, but that number was still more than any other group could afford. They cut back to only one additional lobbying firm to help out. A year later, at the height of the debate over semi-auto gun bans, they cut their spending to just over $275,000 and let the Brady Campaign take the lead in the gun control movement again. However, they did retain a new outside firm to assist. By 2005, they were no longer spending any money in the federal lobbying game and eventually saw their foundation folded into Third Way.

I’m not saying that we can get cocky and ignore the threats by Mike Bloomberg toward our fundamental rights. What McKelvey was willing to spend in their biggest year is less than what Bloomberg spent on just one Congressional special election to hold a Chicago seat. Bloomberg will not go away quietly. However, I thought that it should be noted that real grassroots action can compete against the big bucks of billionaires who want to tell you how to live your life.

11 Responses to “The Billionaire Who Made Gun Control His Pet Issue”

  1. dustydog says:

    I don’t know, but a huge spike in useless spending beginning in 2001 suggests a government grant or contract pushed through at the last minute by the outgoing Administration. Contracts are usually 5 years in duration, with an optional 1 year extension, and with a mandatory review at least every 2 years. Looks like they got bags of cash late 2000/early 2001, and someone cut off the dollar spigot when the paperwork reached their desk.

    • Bitter says:

      Wait, a minute here. I document how a billionaire who previously had ties to the gun control movement broke off and invested a big chunk of cash into a new gun control group, and you’re arguing that it’s all really a secret government contract that funded AGS’s operations? If you actually look up Andrew McKelvey, you’ll see press accounts of him pledging and donating big (for that period) money to gun control through this newly launched operation. I’ve never seen anything that cites their lobbying payments as sourced through the Clinton Administration. If you have that evidence, feel free to share it. Otherwise, this seems like a pretty baseless claim.

      • dustydog says:

        I didn’t say ‘secret’, I said government contract. Look here for example:

        I searched fbo for “bitter”, just to pick a random word, and this example is reflective of the type of contract I’m talking about:

        I know DHHS pays for ads encouraging people to get active, and to stop smoking. If I see Nike or Dick’s or advertising about healthy activity, it makes sense. If I see a small nonprofit spending money to tell people to be more healthy, I infer that they have a financial incentive to do so. When I see a stupid waste of money ad, 100% chance that it’s a candidate for office or a government-paid ad.

        If I see a 2 minute advertisement about some new disease, and the ad says “talk to your doctor about X”, I know that a drug company paid for the ad. Advocacy drug ads can’t be linked to a specific drug, but they are counting on the doctor to know about their new superior drug. The only other disease-specific ads are to fund raising. Nobody ever spends substantial amounts of their own money to ‘raise awareness’.

        So what, pray tell, is the financial incentive to lobby for gun control? Being paid to do it makes sense of course. You’re saying that McKelvey and Bloomberg personally feel strongly enough about gun control that they’re willing to spend their own money on it? That seems further fetched than what the federal government routinely spends money advertising.

        • dustydog says:

          Here’s an example from today (May 1): $40 million to reduce stroke disparities, including working with at risk populations to develop interventions that give people tool…

          I’m not saying that AGS got a government contract. I’m saying that the federal government spends billions of dollars a day, on all sorts of things. Google “disparity, violence, grant”

  2. Crotalus says:

    The real problem is that the Malevolent Dwarf isn’t buying lobbying power; he’s actually figured out how to buy the politicians.

  3. Crotalus says:

    Wait a minute… “Malevolent Dwarf”? Who else could he be, but Rumpelstiltskin?

  4. Patrick H says:

    The other thing is that his group has *Mayors* as its members. Its not a group of individuals- but politicians. And there is the fact that he is a NY Mayor, and is labeled a nanny stater because of his Big Gulp bans (among other things). Both those should help as wel.

    • Nathaniel says:

      Yeah, that’s the thing. Bloomberg is not well-liked outside of academia and the standard ultra-liberal circles in coastal cities. He is the very picture of a wealthy out-of-touch plutocrat trying to buy his way to greater control of the reins of power. That kinda thing rankles most of America pretty badly. Heck, it rankles most liberals pretty badly when it’s not him. The anti-plutocrat streak runs very deeply through our culture.

  5. Archer says:

    The reason I worry about Bloomberg is that he’s made controlling the unwashed masses his pet issue, has the money and political sway to make it happen, and neither his money or sway are running out.

    Face it. He owns a MAJOR news/media company. Barring any unprecedented adventures in mismanagement, it’s an endless revenue stream for Hizzoner, which he’s more than happy to direct to his pet issue(s). His political clout will not be diminished when he leaves his term-limited office; he’ll just have more time to focus on campaigning/lobbying for more gun controls and I seriously doubt MAIG will kick him out for not being a current-sitting Mayor.

    Politically-saavy and influential billionaire with infinite monetary resources, backed by hundreds of other city leaders (criminal records notwithstanding). Yeah, Bloomberg is the new guy to worry about.

    • Countertop says:

      Bloomberg is also getting up there in the years, though at 71 its possible he might stick around and torment us for another 30+ years. I suspect though that he doesn’t. He is motivated based on his life logn liberal political views, and the experience he has had as mayor of New York. After this year, he won’t be mayor of New York. And it will be readily apparent to him that if his real goal is running for the White House, his history as the face of gun control isn’t going to play well. Hence, I’d expect him to try a different tact sometime in the near future. Which doesn’t dry everything up completely, but will be a sign that this isn’t a long term political interest of his. Add to this that once he stops serving as mayor, he will stop having to deal with crime as a base political issue – and his desire to spend most of his free time on his Caribbean Island in the Bahamas, and I suspect his interest moves on. He won’t stop funding hoplophobes, but he will spend the bulk of his energy elsewhere. .

  6. Shawn says:

    But while this guy spent 2 million at his highest bloomberg can and probably will outspend him. I would not be surprised if bloomberg outspending him to the tune of 2 billion if not more per year, every year, until after 2016. bloomberg is a billionaire and he has near unlimited money to make us like the place where great Britain used to be and his hatred of freedom, gun owners, the bill of rights is probably unparalleled except to the worth human rights violators.