Scores of Evergreen State open carry activists turned out in July to observe the fifth anniversary of their first such outing at the Kitsap County Park in Port Orchard, and to also gather signatures and pass out copies of Initiative 591, the “common sense” background check measure designed to prevent any checks that are not in compliance with a uniform national standard. The measure also prohibits government seizure of firearms without due process, a provision that brings back ugly memories for Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

CCRKBA is supporting the initiative as part of a coalition of gun rights and outdoor groups, because he remembers the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Gottlieb, the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association joined forces to stop those confiscations with a federal lawsuit. He does not want the same thing happening in Washington in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster, whether natural or man-made. The Open Carry picnic was an allvolunteer effort, with food, prizes and balloons for children.

The day’s big winner was Terri Podraza, walking away with a Rock Island Armory .45- caliber Model 1911 pistol, donated by longtime Open Carry activist Jim Beal. This is the seventh giveaway gun Beal has donated to such events, and this particular gathering was a combination of the Kitsap picnic and his own annual OC event.

There were lots of cocked-and-locked Model 1911 pistols visible on hips, one woman had a pair of matching 9mm Kimber Saphire Ultra II pistols, and a couple of men were carrying .45-caliber single-action revolvers in western holsters. While the popular park was jammed with other visitors, the OC crowd only reported a couple of negative remarks.

This event dates back to July 13, 2008 when a relative handful of people organized a gathering at Long Lake Park.

It required a bit of education for local law enforcement, but in the five years that have passed, activists say both Port Orchard and Kitsap County have become “OC friendly.” The picnic became a grassroots event for I-591, which is up against another measure, I-594. Both are initiatives to the Washington legislature.