Four candidates hoping to become Washington State’s next governor energized a crowd of several hundred Second Amendment grassroots activists on the capitol steps in Olympia Friday, all focusing on the importance of gun rights to prevent tyranny.
By some estimates, nearly 1,000 people from across the Evergreen State converged on the capitol to oppose new gun control proposals. Many of them were visibly armed, while others kept their hardware tucked under winter coats as temperatures dipped and occasional snow flurries came down.
Gubernatorial candidates included State Sen. Phil Fortunato, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp and Anton Sakharov, a program manager, along with anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman. They were preceded by State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19th District), who warned the audience about the tyrannical overreach of government.
“What do we say to the would-be tyrants who would control you,” he asked. “It’s your right, your obligation to say no to that control, to say no to that tyranny.”
Walsh said many of the gun control proposals are not original, and have been tried elsewhere.
He mentioned Virginia, where Democrats now controlling the General Assembly are also pushing myriad gun control bills. He put part of the blame on Virginia gun owners who were “asleep at the wheel” by not voting in the last election. He reminded the crowd about the same overreach in California, which already has strict gun control laws.
“It’s a matter of freedom versus tyranny,” Walsh declared.
But the gubernatorial candidates really fired up the crowd.
Leading the pack was Culp, who became nationally known for declaring he would not enforce provisions of gun control Initiative 1639, passed by about 59 percent of the voters in 2018, but is being challenged in federal court by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, two gun dealers and several individual plaintiffs.
“As your next governor,” Culp promised, “I will not stand for any infringements on our constitutional rights.”
As governor, he will subject each bill that reaches his desk to three-part test. Is it constitutional? Is it good for the citizens of Washington State? Can we afford it without any new taxes?
Culp said the majority of his contributions have come from Western Washington’s Puget Sound region, thought to be the state’s Democrat/Liberal stronghold.
“From Everett to Olympia,” Culp revealed, “I’m hearing from Democrats, believe it or not…for the first time in their lives they are going to vote Republican because they’re sick and tired of what’s going on in this house right here (pointing to the Capitol building).”
Sakharov followed Culp to the microphone, telling the crowd, “As someone who has seen the other side, this country is the best in the world!”
He said the First Amendment, Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights are “protecting us” every day.
“And we have to protect the Bill of Rights,” he stated. “We have to stop socialism. I have seen how bad it can get. This is unacceptable…We have to stop socialism in Washington.”
Eyman came to the microphone and declared the importance of recognizing the people in Virginia who are sticking up for their rights. It was a sentiment appreciated by the crowd.
Eyman, who before the Friday rally was not known for his Second Amendment position, was quick to allay any doubts.
“Like you,” he said, “I think we all have a duty to fight back…and defend the rights that we all believe in.”
“As governor,” he continued, “I am going to make sure that every right you have is protected and that they do not infringe on them anymore. These are rights that we are guaranteed. Why do we have to have a rally for something that we should already have absolutely guaranteed is flipping crazy. It drives me nuts and it’s because we keep electing people that do not respect the basic rights we have.
“I think it’s really important,” Eyman stated, “that when the government pushes against us, we need to push back.”
Fortunato joked that he liked to go target shooting as a stress-reliever after spending a week in the Legislature. He noted that responsible gun owners do not want crazy people to have access to firearms.
He asserted that every gun control bill now under consideration would make someone a criminal.
Fortunato, who revealed he was armed with a .45-caliber pistol, got the biggest reaction when he discussed a T-shirt emblazoned with the message “45 ACP Because Pulling the Trigger More than Once is Just Silly.”
Hearings on gun control proposals are on the schedule for Monday and Tuesday in Washington, and many of the gun owners present for the rally said they would return to fight those measures.
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