Open Carry At Protests In Washington State Is Over

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Over the last year, some people have decided to open carry at protests all across the nation. Granted, I didn’t get it in a lot of those cases. Protesting lockdowns with an AR-15 strapped to you didn’t make a lot of sense, but I defended people’s right to do it. After all, the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t imply a limit on when, where, or why you can bear those arms.

However, I also knew that we’d see further restrictions coming in part because of those actions.

Now, at least in Washington state, we’re seeing them.

Bringing a gun to a protest in Washington without police permission could mean a year in jail under a bill passed by the state legislature on Tuesday.

Washington is one of 44 states that allow gun owners to keep firearms on their person in public, known as open carry. If signed into law,ESSB 5038 would empower police to ban guns and other weapons within 250 feet of public demonstrations. Knowing violations would be considered gross misdemeanors punishable with fines of up to $5,000 and or jail sentences of up to 364 days.

A legislative analysis of the bill referred to the state Capitol grounds in Olympia as a weapons-free zone which saw two shootings amid protests in December. In January, armed far-right groups occupied Gov. Jay Inslee’s lawn, drawing calls on the left to enact stricter security around the Capitol campus in the form of a chainlink fence and national guard troops. The former is still standing today.

ESSB 5038 would also apply restrictions to weapons used by street protesters in Seattle, including metal knuckles, spring-blade knives, and explosives.

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House in March by a 57-40 vote. It cleared the Senate on Tuesday by a party-line vote of 28-21. Sponsored by state Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, ESSB 5038 heads to Inslee’s desk, taking effect immediately upon receiving his signature.

Can’t say as I’m surprised to see this.

I don’t like seeing this, but I’m not surprised in the least. Washington state has taken a very leftward lean in recent years and now we’re seeing more and more of this kind of stuff coming from them.

Part of me wants to say the armed protesters brought this on themselves, but that’s only part of the story. Yes, carrying guns at protests that had nothing to do with the Second Amendment likely contributed to a lot of this, but this is also because Washington state has bought into the idea that anyone with a gun automatically represents a threat.

Let’s not forget that none of those armed protests resulted in violence. Not by groups most affiliated with the right, anyway. The closest you can get are the NFAC’s negligent discharges. For a group who said they weren’t f-ing around, they sure did f-around a whole lot. But even they didn’t resort to actual violence.

I can’t say the same for Black Lives Matter’s track record, that’s for damn sure.

Yet the law came down on them because armed people are scary. I’m sorry, but when you have an anti-gun state, what do you think the reaction is going to be. They’re not going to listen, they’re just going to restrict. It’s the song of their people, for crying out loud.

The only hope now is to flip the state red and repeal these laws for good.