Gun Control Fight's New Big Dogs: Bill, Melinda Gates They back Washington state bill By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Aug 27, 2014 10:02 AM CDT 174 comments Comments Melinda Gates, left, and husband Bill Gates laugh at a reception Thursday, June 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Newser) – After helping to save a million kids' lives through their anti-malaria efforts in Africa, as the Daily Beast notes, Bill and Melinda Gates are turning their eyes—and wallets—to an issue closer to home. The two are donating $500,000 each to support a Washington state ballot initiative calling for universal background checks for gun purchases. Initiative 594, as it's called, has been dubbed the "gun show initiative," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: It would make background checks an essential part of buying a gun at a show or online. The two had already each given $25,000 to the effort, the P-I notes. "For Gates, this may be a simple donation, or the start of something much larger," notes Gregory Ferenstein at VentureBeat, pointing out that Gates' work in the education arena involved "an extensive, and somewhat hidden, network of policy organizations." With help from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and ex-CEO Steve Ballmer, Initiative 594 now has some $6 million to work with, the P-I reports, while opposition group Protect Our Gun Rights has amassed $1.062 million. Meanwhile, "Gates' fame brings more attention and further legitimizes the initiative in a way that almost nobody else could," Cliff Schecter writes at the Daily Beast.