What is shaping up as a large Second Amendment rally Saturday at the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia could attract as many as 2,000 people, according to the state Department of Enterprise Services.
Significantly, the agency notes in its announcement that, “Many rally participants are expected to openly carry firearms, as allowed under state law. There is no prohibition against openly carrying guns on the grounds of the state Capitol Campus in Olympia.”
The Daily Olympian echoed the crowd size estimate in a story earlier this week. This comes on the heels of last weekend’s gathering that drew about 200 people in a steady rain. Perhaps they were just establishing a beachhead for the much larger crowd.
If that many people show up for the event, it will all be due to the hard work of a couple of grassroots activists, one of whom is a 26-year-old woman whose background may surprise people.
Tessa Ashley grew up in Belfair and now resides in Tacoma. She said her parents more liberal than she is, though her dad is a gun owner. Her sister is a strong proponent of gun control, and Tessa attended the far-left liberal Olympic College, where she acknowledged that she “challenged” her teachers.
Her activism was ignited by the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting that found gun owners demonized for a crime they didn’t commit. So she went to work organizing a pro-Second Amendment event with the help of another activist, Allen Acosta.
“It was kind of like a spur of the moment (thing),” she said via telephone. “I started getting really irritated. Conservatives can get really upset.”
She was especially annoyed “by all the misinformation out there.”
“It was like, ‘okay, I’ve had enough of this’,” she said. “I just decided Second Amendment supporters; we do care about school safety, too.”
Ashley has a keen sense of reality. While many her age might be looking for a Utopian world, she matter-of-factly observed that she lives in the real world. In her Tacoma neighborhood, she said there are ten registered sex offenders within a half-mile of her home.
According to the Facebook page for the “March For Our Rights” rally, more than 1,600 people have already committed to come, and thousands more are “interested.” Friday morning’s Facebook posts showed many people looking to carpool to the event, which begins at noon on the Capitol steps.
Much media attention has been paid to the anti-gun activism of high schoolers (supported by gun prohibition lobbying groups) and the turnout at last weekend’s gun rights gatherings at state capitols was admittedly a shadow of the “March For Our Lives” events in late March.
But there appears to be something different about the planned Olympia event this Saturday.
Friday saw another school walkout of high school students marking the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. Like the Parkland shooting, not to mention Sandy Hook, Thurston High School in Oregon, Pearl High School in Mississippi and Red Lake High School in Minnesota, blame quickly shifted from the killers to gun owners and gun rights organizations that were not remotely connected to the incidents.
Organizing the Saturday event underscores what just a couple of grassroots activists can accomplish. That kind of activism could make the difference for Evergreen State gun owners, whose rights have been in the crosshairs of Seattle-based elitist anti-gunners for the past few years. Where Seattle anti-gunners have truckloads of money, it appears Ashley and her contemporaries have energy, and they are fired up.