The Washington chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the grassroots networks of Everytown for Gun Safety, today called on state lawmakers to regulate guns in the Washington state Capitol and throughout the state after hundreds of Trump supporters, many armed, breached the Governor’s Mansion, in solidarity with the attempted coup in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday.
On Friday, Governor Inslee, a longtime gun sense champion, activated 750 Washington State National Guard and state troopers to help protect the Capitol Campus for the first day of session. Protestors gathered on Sunday to protest COVID-19 restrictions. FBI officials expect more armed protests in the coming weeks in all 50 state capitals.
“On Wednesday, Washingtonians saw a disgraceful display of violence as armed extremists breached the Governor’s Mansion,” said Erin Sloane, a leader volunteer with the Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Prohibiting open carry throughout the state — especially in the Capitol and at protests— is the first step in addressing armed extremism in our state.”
“Armed extremism is a real threat to our democracy in both Washington State and Washington, D.C.,” said Talia LeVine, a leader volunteer with the Washington Students Demand Action. “We can’t wait for another armed insurrection to take place in our state — that’s why we are asking lawmakers to prohibit open carry and protect the Capitol from further armed intimidation.”
Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy. It is exploited by white supremacists and opposed by law enforcement and the public. Research shows that open carry makes us less safe: visible guns have been found to make people more aggressive; therefore open carry makes it more likely that disagreements will turn into violent conflicts.
The open carry of loaded firearms during any demonstration increases the likelihood that such an event will escalate into a dangerous or deadly situation. Members of hate groups regularly openly carry guns in a show of intimidation. This loophole has been particularly dangerous in recent months, as protests have been taking place in Washington and across the country to demand justice and police accountability. Last year, 250 self-proclaimed militia-men and armed vigilantes showed up at the statehouse to intimidate lawmakers because open carry of loaded firearms at demonstrations is perfectly legal.
This session, Washington Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are focused on prohibiting open carry in the statehouse, at protests, and throughout the state. Additionally, volunteers will continue to advocate for funding for violence intervention prevention programs and legislation to increase police accountability in the state.
More information about open carry legislation is here. Additional information on gun violence in Washington is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Washington’s gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here.
To speak with a policy expert or Washington Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action volunteers, please do not hesitate to reach out.