Thousands of gun rights supporters attended a second amendment “Guns Across America” rally in Olympia on Saturday
Organizers said they wanted to speak out against misinformation and attacks on the character of gun owners.
Rallies at statehouses nationwide were organized by Eric Reed, an airline captain from the Houston area who in November started a group called "More Gun Control (equals) More Crime."
A coalition of guns rights and conservative groups organized a "Gun Appreciation Day" and urged Americans nationwide to show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges, and shows across the country.
Jennifer Engman was one of those at the Olympia rally. She doesn't own a gun, but wants others to have the right to.
"I have a kindergartner in school, there should be people there that are armed because when someone bad comes into the school to harm our children, no one is armed, there’s nothing they can do,” she said.
Watching from a distance, a group of faith leaders recognize guns are part of the country's culture, but they say the timing of the rally is bad taste - Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
"For this gun rally and these enthusiasts to essentially be celebrating the instrument of his assassination is affront to everything we stand for,” said Jackie O'Ryan, Faith Action Network
“It’s so deeply insensitive,” saidSandy Brown, First United Methodist Church
“I don't think it’s bad taste at all,” said gun owner Damon Gilbert. “It’s protecting freedom and Martin Luther King stood up for the freedom of people and we're standing up for our freedom. If anything they go hand in hand."
Also in Olympia, the Thurston County Sheriff's Office collected unwanted firearms and ammunition and handed out free gun locks.
The Sheriff's Office reported that 16 long guns, 10 handguns and three five-gallon buckets of ammunition were turned in.