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With their rights ‘under attack,’ pro-gun advocates rally in Olympia

Pro-gun supporters will hit the streets of Olympia Saturday. (File, Associated Press)

Last month, we saw thousands hit the streets and call for gun control in the March For Our Lives.

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Now, gun owners say it’s their turn. Pro-gun rallies will be held across the country Saturday, including in Olympia.

There are more than 50 rallies planned for tomorrow, most at state capitols. Some states will see rallies at both their capitols and in other cities. At least three are planned in Utah, where some state lawmakers are expected to speak. Some expect hundreds to attend, others thousands.

Here in Washington, at least a few hundred gun rights advocates are expected to rally on the steps of the capitol at 5:30 p.m.

Dave Workman, senior editor of the TheGunMag, says this to push back against growing calls for gun control.

“Part of this is a reaction to the March For Our Lives anti-gun demonstrations last month. Gun owners have really been in a situation for the last month and a half since the Parkland school shooting where their rights are really under attack.”

He says gun owners are just as upset about the actions of the accused gunman in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, but don’t believe their rights should be threatened because of it. Instead, he says the focus should be on what went wrong.

“There is evidence that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office fouled up on this, they had been to this guy’s residence more than 30 times. The FBI apparently had been tipped off about some of his social media posts in which he claimed that he was going to become some kind of professional school shooter. They did nothing and who gets the blame for this thing that happened in Parkland? The gun owners and the National Rifle Association.”

And, Workman says, the recent op-ed published in The New York Times where a retired Supreme Court Justice suggested repealing the Second Amendment also has gun owners up in arms.

“Justice John Paul Stevens has never been a friend of the Second Amendment but when he wrote that op-ed two or three weeks ago it really lit a lot of fuses around the country among gun owners who were just enraged by this. Here’s a retired Supreme Court Justice suggesting that their right as affirmed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution was no longer valid and it should be removed.”

Workman says politics is also a big part of this.

“The announced retirement of House Speaker Paul Ryan has certainly added fuel to the talk out there, the likelihood that the House of Representatives is going to change control from Republican to Democrat. If that happens then gun owners are really going to be in the crosshairs because the Democrats will pull out all the stops to pass any kind of gun control bill they can.”

He says gun owners really feel like their side of this debate gets lost.

“I think what is going on though — and I hold the media partly responsible for this — the anti-gun movement gets a lot more air time and a lot more attention than the pro-gun side of this argument and I’m not sure that that’s really fair. It’s certainly not balanced.”

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While some of these rallies area being organized by local groups, the idea for these and overall mobilization is coming on social media from The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans — a group that sprang up last month just before March For Our Lives.

The message:

“I think the message is going to be that gun owners are tired of being used as scapegoats for these horrible crimes. When you’ve got maybe ninety to one hundred million people in the United States who own firearms legally and have committed no crimes they get really tired of being the whipping boy for the social justice warriors out there who are more after the prohibition of guns than they are about punishing criminals.”

As for whether the turn out in tomorrow’s rallies will be equal to the hundreds of thousands we saw in the March For Our Lives events across the country last month.

“There’s a potential for at least tens of thousands of people to be turning out. Gun owners are a fairly lethargic bunch up until the point where they feel their personal rights are being attacked and then they’re going to do something. They’re going to show up, they’re going to vote, they’ll march to the Capitol, they’ll do any number of things to show they are part of the society that they vote and that they want their voices to be heard.”

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Workman says these rallies may signal a renewed activism by gun owners who are now worried their rights face a serious threat.

Washington state’s rally is tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. at the capitol building in Olympia. Another gun rights rally will be held in Olympia on April 21, one day after the National School Walkout for gun control happening on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.

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