In support of guns? A few unusual suspects

As Dems gear up to pursue their gun control priorities, an Olympia gun rights rally draws a diverse crowd.
Christopher Hertel and daughter Amanda, of Concrete, Wa, look on during Friday's gun rally at the capitol. 2/8/2013 (Tom James/Crosscut)

Christopher Hertel and daughter Amanda, of Concrete, Wa, look on during Friday's gun rally at the capitol. 2/8/2013 (Tom James/Crosscut) Tom James/Crosscut

A Friday rally against gun control at the state capitol drew less than a third of the crowd organizers expected — but drew them from across party lines.

Though organizers from the Tacoma Narrows Tea Party and 2nd Defenders expected 1500 to attend, they later estimated that only 300 to 400 turned up. Still, the crowd that did arrive came from around the state, and included a diversity not usually associated with an issue broadly portrayed as right-wing and white-bread.

Mimi DeGeeter stood toward the back Friday with a nose ring and a shock of bright blue hair peeking out from beneath a snug white cap. On her hip was a holstered black handgun.

"This is the first protest I've been to where I haven't had a gas mask on," DeGeeter said. "It's weird."

DeGeeter, who came with her husband, Jason, said she finds herself ideologically between the two parties. On the one hand, the couple is pro-choice, supports marriage equality and is generally anti-war — stances typically associated with America's left. On the other hand, Jason said, they are strong supporters of gun rights and personal gun ownership.

"There should be no gun control. Gun control means using both hands," he said. But, he acknowledged, "We're probably the only people here who voted for Obama."

While Mimi felt generally welcomed at the event, she said she also was aware her views on some issues set her apart. "I feel like if I were to stand up there and say I go shooting with my gay friends — if there wasn't a gun involved — some of these people wouldn't be as supportive."

As the crowd thinned, five people walked up who stood out as much as the DeGeeters, if not more.

Rovelle Brown, Stephan Holmes, a woman named Napua, and another pair, who did not want to give their names, stood at the back of the crowd. Both in baggy pants, Brown sported thick dreadlocks beneath a black bandana; tattooed under Holmes' eye were a series of teardrops.

While many at the event carried rifles or full-sized shotguns, Brown, Holmes and Napua also stood out for their armament: Brown carried two large pistols, one in his hand, one tucked into his pants, while Holmes carried a compact, stockless weapon with a banana clip and Napua a black pump-action shotgun with a pistol grip. While others carried their weapons slung across their backs, Holmes and Napua carried theirs in their hands, or casually over their shoulders.

"Was it unnerving at first? Yes." Holmes said of arriving at the mostly-white event as a young black man. But that feeling quickly faded. "We're all here for the same purpose."

That purpose, Brown said, was to protest in support of the right to bear arms, which Brown said he keeps not only to protect his family, but also to defend against tyranny — a real possibility, he said, noting that police forces already use drone aircraft to surveil American cities. Many others at the event voiced the same feelings.

From Tacoma, Brown and Napua both mentioned their work running an after-school program to keep kids off the streets. But, Brown said, the reality of the streets is that one that has to be ready to protect his family.

"The criminal," Brown said when asked about gun control, "isn't going to put down his gun."

Dressed in camouflage military fatigues, Navy veteran Orion Webster manned a table displaying a shotgun, pistol, assault rifle, and a sniper rifle at the event. A member of both the Tea Party and the NRA, Webster said the event was one of the most diverse he had been to.

After the rally, a small group stood around Webster's table. At one point Webster loudly announced that anybody who had voted for Obama was a fool. One of the group, Nate Hunter, said that he had voted for the Democrat.

Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!


Posted Mon, Feb 11, 12:48 p.m. Inappropriate

The gun support crowd could all show up in Olympia but we already have over 400,000 declared permit holders just for pistols on the list so it isn't like we need to show up like the Fascitelli crowd to get our point across. That 400K includes some of the owners but definitely not all.

The guys in the legislature that are willing to vote for more restrictions without utilizing the laws on the books to put people away and keep them out of society should balance their reactionary thinking with what the next couple of elections hold for their positions. Some of us will be putting our dollars lost on firearm purchases toward election campaigns of sensible representatives.

The number of NICS checks for Washington in 2010 per 100,000 residents was 12,508 and a population of 6,664,195. Are there enough gun owners in the state to make a difference in an election? You never know until that sleeping giant shows up at the polls. We don't have to walk the streets and scream like the grabbers to get attention.


Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

Join Crosscut now!
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us »