A gun rights rally at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake Park attracted about 100 people Feb. 23.
Those in attendance heard local activists speak against the recently voter-approved Initiative 1639, calling for pushback against the law that puts added regulation on ownership of certain types of rifles, among other things.
Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer alongside Washington Three Percent organized the rally which was hosted in the park shelter and was one part of a weekend of demonstrations targeting Clark County and surrounding areas.
“The hope is to get people fired up,” Patriot Prayer Founder Joey Gibson said about the rallies. During his speech in Woodland, he referenced the stance of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office regarding I-1639. The agency said in a statement early this month that the agency “will adhere to the law as passed by a vote of the people unless a court rules that it is unconstitutional.”
As a result, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins has been named in a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation challenging the constitutional validity of the new law.
“Sheriff Atkins needs to be reminded what his job is, and his job is to protect the Constitution,” Gibson said.
Gibson is focusing on mobilizing citizens in the smaller cities, naming Woodland, La Center and Battle Ground specifically, in order to get them petitioning their local governments to draft ordinances or resolutions stating those cities would not spend time or resources on enforcing I-1639’s stipulations.
Gibson stated his general support of law enforcement, but “when they do something wrong they need to be called out.” Unlike Patriot Prayer rallies in Portland or Vancouver, the police presence on Saturday was minimal and the audience was almost entirely of supporters. In past demonstrations by the group protestors were often on the scene, sometimes violently clashing with the group.
Washington Three Percent leader Matt Marshall brought up that outside of the U.S. Constitution, Washington State’s own document has its own protections on firearms ownership. He said that five counties had passed resolutions in opposition of I-1639 and 23 sheriffs that have stated they do not plan to enforce the initiative.
“We had nothing to do with those counties except for inspiring the local people that knew their commissioners to organize and go talk to them,” Marshall said.
Cowlitz County Commissioner Arne Mortensen spoke at the rally, addressing the commissioners’ approval in January of a resolution that opposed I-1639.
“We have to be true to our republic and our Constitution,” Mortensen remarked. He said that although the county passed a resolution, making an ordinance didn’t seem pertinent as obeying the Constitution was something already expected, making it codified in new laws a moot point.
“Cowlitz County is leading the way,” Gibson said. He called for those in Clark County to get into contact with the sheriff’s office as well as their local city councilors to let them know how they felt about I-1639 in an effort to have more law enforcement and municipalities making similar stances.