Ahead of planned armed demonstrations in Olympia, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are available to discuss the deadly nexus between far-right extremism and lax gun laws. The armed demonstrations come in the wake of – and are spurred on by – a violent, pro-Trump mob, many armed, storming and damaging the United States Capitol Building in an act of violent insurrection on Jan. 6.
Due in large part to rhetoric from President Trump and decades of fear mongering from gun lobby groups like the NRA, extreme right-wing intimidation and violence has been on the rise in recent years, leading to at least 85 instances of armed intimidation and incidents involving guns at protests in state capitals from May through December 2020, alone. A report by Everytown in September warned of this violence and examined the toxic mix of conspiracy theories, the common denominator of guns, and far-right extremism in America.
Fully addressing the dangers that armed extremism poses to the United States will require a whole host of strong gun policies and other measures, including addressing hate in our country. Today, Everytown for Gun Safety unveiled a new policy plan designed to eliminate armed intimidation from politics by prohibiting guns at Capitol buildings and grounds, sensitive government facilities, polling locations, vote counting locations, and protests on public property.
After the election, Rep. Robert Sutherland (R-Granite Falls) posted on Facebook that people should “Prepare for war,” on his Facebook site and declared that “Joe Biden is not now, nor will ever be my President.” Rep. Sutherland also promoted the January 6 armed insurrection, then posted on his Facebook the next day that it was “ANTIFA ‘instigators’ started the violence in DC yesterday.” Rep. Sutherland has participated in the armed counter protests before, most notably in reaction to Black Lives Matter demonstrations this summer and posted a picture of himself with assault rifles. State Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) responded to the armed insurrection last week by referring to the armed extremists as citizens who are “concerned about what is going on in America” and “taking actions to protect themselves.”
FBI officials have already warned of subsequent armed demonstrations at the Capitol in Olympia as President-elect Biden’s inauguration approaches.
What to know about the lax Washington gun laws which make these armed demonstrations even more dangerous:
- Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy exploited by white supremacists and extremists, like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, to intimidate their opponents. In Washington, there are no restrictions on open carry — which led to 250 self-proclaimed militia-men and armed vigilantes showed up at the statehouse to intimidate lawmakers last year. Research shows that the violent rhetoric accompanying open carry has been steadily increasing by extremists. More information about open carry laws is available here.
What to know about gun violence in Washington:
- In Washington, on average, 781 people are shot and killed with a gun every year. In the last decade, gun homicide increased 37% in Washington, compared to an 26% increase nationwide.
- An average of 185 people in Washington die by gun homicide every year. Washington has the seventh highest gun homicide rate in the country for American Indians/Alaska Natives. And, Black people in Washington are six times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Washington Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action on the deadly nexus between extremism and lax gun laws, please don’t hesitate to reach out.