By Mason Soto
On April 21, gun-rights activists gathered at the Olympia Capitol for an event they called “March for Our Rights”, rallying on the grounds and steps of the Legislative Building, carrying an array of guns from pistols to rifles and shotguns strapped to their backs and waists. The event follows “March for Our Lives”, a national campaign organized by students and activists who want to change gun policies in reaction to school shootings.
Among the crowd of around 2,500 people, some wore quasi-military gear and armor, wielding flags and signs for different libertarian and far-right groups. “Don’t Tread On Me” flags flew among the countless U.S. flags, and several flags from the extreme anti-government organization The Three Percenters, who militantly oppose gun laws and claim infringement of constitutional rights. The Three Percenters have gained infamy for serving as volunteer security details for far- right and “alt-right” events. Other signs bore slogans like “American By Birth… Gun Owner By Choice” and “Guns Save Lives”.
The founder of Patriot Prayer, a far-right “free speech” advocacy group, and U.S. Senate candidate Joey Gibson spoke to the eager crowd. He opened his speech with a nod to the Proud Boys, an organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. A loose network of local organizations originally started by Vice Media founder Gavin McInnes, The Proud Boys espouse “Western Chauvinist” ideals and the Pacific Northwest chapter membership is widely known to feature heavy crossover with Patriot Prayer. Gibson shouted out into the audience, “How many Proud Boys in the crowd today?”, and was met with screams and applause from the crowd.
“We have an empire above us that wants to brainwash you, that wants to consistently steal from you, steal from your family, take from your community,” Gibson said. “They will brainwash our youth to go out to march to give up their own God-given rights. It is out of control.”
Jared Gavin Bonneau, a citizen running as a candidate for Congress in the Fifth District of Washington, wore an AK-47 stropped across his body as he delivered a speech.
On leftists who are aiming for stricter gun laws, Bonneau said, “They’re out there protesting the government to strip their right away from them,” later calling them “mentally ill” and “crazies”. “We need to go on the offensive, we need to push back with everything we got,” he continued. “We don’t need more gun control, we need more freedom.”
Gibson concurred, saying, “It’s time for those who believe in freedom to be more aggressive… We don’t have to have less freedoms in this country, we need more freedoms.”
referring to Flyers posted by activists in Seattle on May 1 outed local members of the aforementioned groups and claimed they spread white supremacist propaganda.
“It’s time for those who believe in freedom to be more aggressive”
“We have too many politicians that take polls to see what the people want to hear, that’s not what we need, we need leaders who will tell the people what they need to hear”
“We don’t have to have less freedoms in this country, we need more freedoms. We do not need ore gun laws we need less gun laws.”
“I believe god wants a country where you do and say, its freewill, where you can do and say whatever you want.”
“God gave us this right to protect our freedoms”