YAKIMA, Wash. — One word was written on the dry-erase board describing the agenda for Saturday’s gun rights rally.
Indeed, the nearly 140 people who attended the event at Millennium Plaza were unified in that message: implementing new gun control measures would put their liberties and freedoms at risk.
“I’m here because I believe in all rights for all citizens,” said Terry Archer, 58, of Yakima, who attended the rally with her family. “I’m from a military family. They fought for my rights and I need to fight for everyone else’s.”
The event in Yakima, called the Central Washington Day of Resistance, was one of several nationwide. The rallies were held as a play on the date of Feb. 23, a reference to the Bushmaster .223, a semiautomatic rifle.
Many of the participants carried or held their weapons and waved signs with slogans such as “We are not fringe extremists, we are law-abiding gun owners” and “Making good people helpless won’t make people harmless.”
Some participants spoke during an open-mike session. Many recited quotes from historical figures whom they felt supported their right to own guns. Others railed against politicians of all stripes. Still others emphasized the need for faith in God. The rally started with prayer.
Steven Winmill, 51, of Naches came to the rally dressed in clothing from the Revolutionary War period, a symbol of his love for the Constitution and the country’s founders.
Winmill said that while he understands the viewpoint of gun control advocates, he says they don’t have the solution to stopping mass shootings, either.
“I think you need to do more with the mental health issue than restrict law-abiding gun owners,” he said.
Kirk Groenig, president of the Central Washington chapter of Remember Us ... We the People, a grass-roots group that helped organize the rally, encouraged the crowd to call their legislators and voice their concerns.
“Don’t let them take us down without a fight,” he said. “Get involved. Talk is cheap.”