They jammed the Grange Hall in Centerville Saturday, some coming from as far away as Yakima; the good citizens of “red state” Washington, who came to hear about politics and gun rights.
It was the first-ever Second Amendment Town Hall Meeting in these parts, sponsored by the Klickitat County Republicans, a 400-mile round trip for this column — yes, in a 4X4 pickup — that was worth every hour on the road.
This is farm and ranch country, about a 90-minute drive down Highway 97 through landscape that shifts from Yakima Valley farmland to rolling prairie to timber country, across Satus Pass, and down to the plowed soil in the hills above the eastern reaches of the Columbia Gorge.
Attorney Dave Brown, who organized the meeting along with Luke Dewitt, who resides just a short distance from the Grange Hall in this unincorporated community about a dozen miles southwest from Goldendale in Klickitat County, said it was the first time such an event had been held here. It was a huge success by local standards, with cars and pickup trucks filling the small parking lot and lining the Centerville Highway.
Brown estimated that “at least” 300 people attended the event, which may exceed the Centerville population, and is more that might turn out for a community event in some Seattle suburb.
There were handguns visible on a few hips, one man set up a display of his rifles and pistols downstairs, and Republican State Reps. Norm Johnson and Charles Ross talked about legislation and heard the concerns from men and women in this rural area about threats to their gun rights. Blue jeans were the uniform of the day for many, including Johnson and Ross, who acknowledged that they are essentially “on defense” these days against a Democrat House majority when it comes to gun issues.
However, Ross made it clear they have some pro-gun Democrat allies, and this explains why the major gun control measures went off the tracks in Olympia.
Any mention of Seattle Democrats brought groans and scowls. Likewise, there was not much warmth on this sunny farm country morning for anti-gun U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell — both Democrats — whose votes on gun issues separate them from Centerville by at least a couple of light years.
And Barack Obama? You probably would not find a single vote for him in the room, especially in the wake of his renewed war on gun rights.
A remark that “Seattle is only 20 minutes in any direction from the United States” brought a roar of laughter from the audience, which included dozens of military veterans who are not about to give up their guns.
State Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle) would win no popularity contests here, either. Many in the audience were especially perturbed at Kline’s attempt to ban so-called “assault rifles,” which may be as common in these parts as tractors and muddy boots.
Saturday’s program kicked off with a presentation by Dave Roland with the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation. He detailed the history of gun rights and discussed several recent Second Amendment court victories, coincidentally waged by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.
Brown told the Examiner that he is looking ahead a full year to another event, to which SAF founder Alan Gottlieb would be invited. Gottlieb’s name is well-known in these parts, and suffice to say his popularity among gun owners in this region is far higher than anybody from West Seattle with a “D” behind his or her name.
What happened Saturday in Centerville was indicative of a growing unrest among small town Americans; people who have earned what they have and are in no mood to surrender their rights for some “feel-good” whim du jour from the political Far Left.
Gun prohibitionists may not like what they hear from these rural Evergreen Staters, but if Saturday’s event was any indication, they better get used to the noise.
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities