Their rights, our lives
He roared right past me with an AR-15 flag on the back of his motorcycle. Then he turned off Capitol Way into the State Capitol grounds. I decided to follow him. There were about 2000 mainly white guys with rifles on their backs or draped down their fronts with pistols on their hips milling around the Capitol steps. They were generally dressed in black with ball caps and jackets. Turns out this rally, held on Saturday April 21, was designed as a counter to the 4,500 people who were at the March for Our Lives rally a few weeks ago.
Down front there were tents filled with literature from various organizations. The NRA and the John Birch Society were there. The Libertarian Motor Cycle (LMC) for “libertarian-minded” men, the American Patriot III%ers who want a return to a “Constitutional Republic,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms dedicated “to protecting your firearms rights,” ABATE, “a motorcycling community” with its slogan “Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments,” and Osborne & Sons Guns and Ammo shop of Onalaska, Washington—were there too.
There was also a strong presence of Republican Party officials, candidates and speakers. There was campaign information for Congressional Candidate Jared Gavin Bonneau from Spokane Valley, a Constitutional Conservative, and for State Representative Candidate Jodi Wilke from Port Townsend whose literature stated, “Gun violence is a software issue, not a hardware.” Robert Sutherland had a table. He’s running for State Representative out of Monroe. There was also a table for 1621, an Initiative called “Expanding Choice for School Security” that would allow “nonstudents to carry pistols on school grounds” if they had a license to carry a concealed pistol or were exempt from licensing.
I listened to several speakers, all Republicans. Marty McClendon, Pierce County Republican Chair, Jim Walsh, State Representative out of Aberdeen and Elizabeth Scott, State Senate Candidate for the 39th Legislative District. There were common themes: God gave us rights; they are individual, not collective rights. The 2nd Amendment is the right that secures all other rights. Any infringement on this right will mean the loss of all rights. Gun Free Zones should be eliminated, for example. There is an urban elite defunding economically depressed rural areas to create dense urban areas for better control. There is also a general fear that people are under attack and a gun will make them secure.
The only speaker who stepped out of the general framework was Joey Gibson, Patriot Prayer founder, who, in a somewhat incoherent rant, called for a non-violent revolution of the mind, but with the armed capacity to stop foreign invaders.
Works in Progress received a press release for this rally from “Washington Libertarian,” indicating that the rally was hosted by Tessa Ashley and Allen Acosta. (Works in Progress got a message shortly after clarifying that the rally was not related to the Libertarian Party of Washington State.) Tessa Ashley acted as the Master of Ceremonies and Organizer. According to Allen Acosta, the rally was sponsored and organized by the Libertarian Motor Cycle Club.
Dan Leahy joined the Peace Corps as a young man, and refused induction into the US Army. He lives in Olympia.