Tired of voter-approved restrictions on gun rights, a group of Second Amendment supporters want to create a 51st state from the 20 Washington counties that are east of the Cascade mountains. They call the new state Liberty.
They rallied Friday in the state Capitol rotunda, upset about the age limits and safety rules for guns passed by voters in Initiative 1639.
Nick, who declined to share his last name with KIRO, came from Longview, Washington, with his semi-automatic rifle.
“I want to defend my rights. Make sure that my children won’t get molested by a group of illegals,” he said.
Betsy Keller-Zal also lives in Longview. She told KIRO, “We follow the Constitution and they're just chipping away at the Constitution on all our rights, not just the Second Amendment.
Both joined others who want to form their own state that doesn't include the liberal Seattle voters who pushed I-1639 over the top.
Their leader is Spokane-area Republican Rep. Matt Shea, who spoke with the prospective new state’s flag featuring the outstretched wings of an osprey.
“I am not going to sit in a state that is going to try to take away our firearms either by regulation, by cost or by confiscation. Are you?” The crowd responded with a loud, “No.”
Shea is known for his support of rural ranchers defying federal regulations and for calling journalists “godless.”
Asked if the First Amendment would be respected in the new state, he responded, “The First Amendment is absolutely critical, especially religious freedom. The right of conscience in the Washington constitution, perfect toleration of religious sentiment and a lot of people are feeling right now that their right of conscience are being violated right now in Washington state.”
Creating a new state is a complicated process involving the Congress and the state Legislature. Some supporters here don’t want it limited to eastern Washington.
Longview, Washington, resident Jeff Burch told KIRO, “I disagree with splitting the state because it leaves the rest of us on the west side hanging.”
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