The San Francisco Chronicle today is reporting what must qualify as the zenith of “let me see if I have this straight” situations when it revealed that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who donated $500,000 to the Initiative 594 campaign on Aug. 11, is now in a legal battle over possession of a – are you sitting down? – WWII German tank.
According to the story, which also appears in the Seattle P-I.com, Allen apparently paid $2.5 million for the tank two months ago, to a group called the Collings Foundation, which allegedly has declined to turn it over, and reportedly claims the tank was never for sale in the first place. One report said there was an attempt to return the money. Maybe Allen didn’t pass California’s “universal background check.” Is there a waiting period on tanks under California law?
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has weighed in with a broadside blasting the billionaire. CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said in a press release that he’s found a loophole in I-594 that Allen apparently can drive a tank through.
“We looked through I-594 and discovered why he’s probably hot to purchase that Panzer,” Gottlieb said. “Tanks appear to be exempt under the gun control measure because they’re not specifically mentioned anywhere in those 18 pages. So, Allen wouldn’t have to go through a background check. But who needs a tank to go duck hunting?
“Evidently,” Gottlieb observed, “the difference between billionaires and the rest of us is the size of the guns they want to own.”
It is a story that not only underscores and highlights the hypocrisy of big money gun control supporters, it turns practicing the double standard into an art form, if the details are being correctly reported. The story says Allen is “an avid collector of historical military planes and other equipment.” Included in that “other” category is a Soviet SCUD missile that Allen reportedly bought for $349,000 and an allegedly “rusty and inoperable Cold War-era M55 self-propelled Howitzer.”
And this guy donated a half-mil to an initiative campaign that would criminalize the weekend loan of a shotgun to a neighbor for a Columbia Basin goose hunt without a background check? This is the man whose money is helping pander an 18-page gun control measure that is apparently so confusing and intrusive that two of the state’s largest, oldest and most respected rank-and-file law enforcement organizations, along with nine individual county sheriffs, are publicly opposed to its passage?
Cue the sneers from Allen’s anti-gun fellow Seattleites. “You don’t need a Panzer to shoot prairie dogs.” “You don’t need a missile to hunt mallards.”
According to the story, Allen’s Vulcan Warbirds filed a lawsuit Wednesday in California’s San Mateo County Superior Court. The allegation is that the Collings Foundation is not only clinging to the tank, but also to Allen’s $2.5 million. Allen’s attorneys even got a restraining order to prevent the tank from being moved from its present location.
If things smooth out, the story says that the Panzer will wind up at a military equipment display at the Flying Heritage Collection aviation museum in Everett. The big question: If I-594 passes, will Allen be able to loan it to Michael Bloomberg?