The Whitney Graves bill, which would have punished gun owners who leave loaded weapons lying around where kids can find them--was supported by both Republicans and Democrats in Olympia, with a highly unusual coalition between Washington Cease Fire and Alan Gottlieb's Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Now that the bill is dead, the gun control lobbyists who had compromised to win bipartisan support are flaming mad; and Woodbridge, the old-style gun lobbyist who shot their bill down, is taking aim at new-style gun lobbyist Gottlieb.

Woodbridge sees Gottlieb as a traitor, a conniving fundraiser who channels the money he receives from gun owners into a network of organizations that he controls. After lecturing me on the inherently evil role of the state, the plight of the individual gun-owner, and the benefits of teaching children about guns, Woodbridge led me out to the parking lot to show me his secret files on the myriad financial holdings of Alan Gottlieb. "We're going to make him pay for his lies," said Big Al.

Of course, it's easy to blame the failure of the Whitney Graves bill on a few wackos who co-opted the process. Some believe State Rep. Ed Murray's "safe schools" bill, designed to prevent malicious harassment in schools, suffered a similar fate because it was perceived as "another gay rights bill"--even though it was co-sponsored by 65 other lawmakers. (Murray, a Democrat, is the only openly gay legislator in Olympia.)

However, as one observer of state politics told me, "Those things don't just happen. They are allowed to happen."

Frank Chopp, the Democratic co-Speaker of the House, discouraged me from focusing on the political minutiae that led to the failure of Whitney Graves. "The Republican leadership didn't want it to be passed, so they set it up to be killed," said Chopp.

As for the safe schools bill, Chopp said he could only manage to schedule a hearing after the voting deadline had already passed.

At one point Chopp told me, "The best [the Democrats] can do is fight for a draw." It was a stunning admission. The Democrats kicked ass last election: they now control the State Senate, the governor's office, and half of the State House--and the best they can do is fight for a draw?

Support The Stranger