OLYMPIA — Roughly 1,500 protesters showed up at the Capitol to rally against stricter gun restrictions.
The rally was part of Saturday’s nationwide series of pro-firearms events dubbed “Guns Across America.”
The Olympian reported some protesters carried handguns while others strapped rifles and semi-automatic weapons to their backs.
Among the speakers was Shahram Hadian of Everett, a Christian pastor and former gubernatorial candidate. Hadian was born in Iran and moved to the United States as a child.
“I left there because of the oppression, because of the oppressive government, and came to America for freedom,” he told a cheering crowd. “Tyranny is now at our doorsteps; now in our path; now in our faces; and is a reality of our children if we do not act now.
“We are on the verge of a dictatorship.”
Tim Vinyard and his 9-year-old daughter Molly left Spokane at 5 a.m. to attend. Vinyard told the newspaper it’s important that responsible gun owners are heard. He held a sign stating, “Millions of gun owners killed no one yesterday.”
Molly, meanwhile, held a sign saying, “I trust my teacher to protect me.” Molly said it means she wants her teacher to have a gun in case a bad guy comes in.
Jeff and Melissa Sikes of Auburn brought their 13-year-old son to the rally.
They have guns at home, and Jeff carried a concealed pistol Saturday afternoon. They said they focus on teaching their son gun safety, and all guns in the home are locked in a safe.
“We wanted to stand for our rights and make it known we as Americans are not going to stand idly by while they stomped on us,” Jeff Sikes said.
Melissa Sikes admitted she was nervous after seeing some demonstrators walking around with large-caliber firearms.
“I think they have done a good job making it a safe place for families to come and support,” she said.
She went on to say while the family doesn’t support bans or restrictions on guns, she does see the need for increased background checking.
“They need to be getting more information from people,” Melissa Sikes said. “I understand HIPPA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is trying to protect people’s privacy, but some things should be brought to light — like mental illnesses.”
The crowd listened as speakers shared their thoughts on the direction in which the nation is headed.
Former NFL tight end and political candidate Clint Didier was among the speakers. He urged the crowd to stock up on food, guns, ammunition, communication devices and medicines.
Information from: The Olympian, http://www.theolympian.com