I’ve said multiple times that I’m not generally a fan of armed protests in most instances. It’s one thing if you’re talking about gun rights, but for so many other issues, carrying a firearm simply draws attention away from the issue.
It also gives people reason to freak out, which means they start trying to pass laws. The last thing anyone needs is more gun control laws, and yet openly carrying firearms for things like protests at capitols tends to cause something of a reaction.
In Washington state, that’s precisely what’s happening now.
The measure passed the Senate Law and Justice committee on a 5-4 party line vote and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the last stop before it is up for a vote by the full Senate.
The bill would prohibit people from carrying weapons, either on their person or in their vehicle, while attending a permitted demonstration at a public place or while being within 250 feet of a permitted demonstration. It also prohibits openly carried weapons in the state Capitol or on the Capitol’s grounds.
In other words, they’ll eliminate the right for anyone to openly carry at a protest of any kind, not just non-Second Amendment protests.
Oh, I can hear people now. “It’s unconstitutional!”
Sure. After all, arguably both the First and Second Amendments are being infringed upon here, at least in my opinion, but do you think there’s a court in Washington state that’s going to rule that way? Not these days, anyway, and that’s why our personal opinions on the matter are largely irrelevant. The courts have to decide this and I just don’t know that it’ll get the hearing it deserves.
Maybe if this lands before the Supreme Court, but this is more or less the same court that has turned down numerous gun rights cases in the last decade. While Justice Amy Coney Barrett may tip the balance so they’d hear this one, I wouldn’t hold my breath right now.
In fairness, it’s not just about people having carried guns at protests. Part of this is probably blowback from the Kyle Rittenhouse situation. More specifically, the version presented by much of the media that forgets Rittenhouse was attacked in the first place. That plus the freakout over the Michigan state Capitol protest, likely compounded by the discovery of a plot to kidnap and execute Governor Gretchen Whitmer, made it something of a perfect time to step in.
I’d love to tell you that this bill doesn’t have a shot in hell of passage, but this is Washington state. While they’re a Shall Issue concealed carry state, they’re not particularly pro-gun anymore. The passage of I-1639 should have dispelled any delusions along that regard.
Of course, maybe I’m wrong and this won’t survive a court challenge. Even if there were no chance of overturning it, there should still be a court challenge. Not just in case, but because there should be a penalty for every attempted infringement of our rights, and that’s the legal challenge that follows.
But this one is likely to pass no matter what happens, unfortunately.
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