Some 2,000 to 2,500 Washington State gun owners gathered at the state capitol in Olympia Saturday to declare they will fight back against what they believe are unjust and even unconstitutional gun control proposals.
It was a personal victory for activists Tessa Ashley and Allen Acosta who used social media, talk radio and networking to bring it all together. It came less than a day after the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a deep-pockets gun prohibition lobbying group, announced an initiative campaign to raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-auto modern sporting rifles to 21 years.
That did not sit well with several teens who spoke to Liberty Park Press. Joe Baker, 16, came with to friends and his father, waving an American flag.
“I think that’s (raising the age) taking away basic rights,” Baker said.
One of his companions, Colton Doiron, asserted that “if we start changing one thing, it will lead to a lot more (restrictions).”
Donovan Saldavia, a student at a Pierce County high school, echoed Doiron’s concerns, adding, “We should be able to have our rights.”
All three said their pro-rights viewpoints had been silenced by teachers and administrators at their schools.
Another 16-year-old, Aryeh Rohde, delivered an emotional speech, declaring that people who are disarmed “aren’t people, they’re slaves.” His remarks brought a rousing cheer and applause from a crowd that has become weary of media images of a few teens from Parkland, Florida who have become media sweethearts for campaigning for more gun control.
Rohde asserted in an interview with Liberty Park Press that he had been silenced by the principal of his high school last month when he expressed pro-Second Amendment beliefs during a campus event that was part of a nationwide student walkout.
Visibly energized by the crowd that her effort had attracted, Ashley told Liberty Park Press that she will oppose the new gun control initiative. She said if the age to buy a rifle is raised, then it should also be raised for voting and other rights now enjoyed by young adults.
She also said she does not like big government.
“I want less government,” Ashley said. “We have too much government. I believe in small government.”
Ashley also objected to the way the gun prohibition movement has used teens and younger children to push its anti-gun agenda.
“I think they’re exploiting them,” she observed.
Ashley is not a member of the National Rifle Association or any other gun rights organization. But NRA was represented at the rally, as was the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Hundreds of CCRKBA signs with pro-gun messages could be seen in the crowd, which got the attention of several local news agencies.
Several politicians, including Republican State Rep. Elizabeth Scott, spoke to the crowd, which may have been the largest turnout for a pro-gun rally in recent memory. Saturday’s crowd easily dwarfed the turnout at a gun rights event one week earlier.
Maybe it was the better weather, the initiative launch, a sense of frustration or a combination of issues that brought activists out, but now the task will be to keep the energy going as these gun owners are almost certainly to have a political fight on their hands in November.