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Tense Moments As Gun Rights Rally Spills Into Washington House Gallery

AP841004985112.jpg
Ted S. Warren
/
AP Photo
Jason McMillon carries his Rock River LAR-PDS pistol with a 45-round magazine into the Legislative Building at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.

 

Guns are allowed in the Washington state Capitol, but state law makes it illegal to carry a firearm in a manner designed to intimidate.

That made for some tense moments Thursday in the spectator gallery of the Washington House.

It happened following a gun-rights rally on the steps of the Washington statehouse. A dozen or so armed protestors gathered in the House gallery. One man had his finger near the trigger of a loaded pistol.

That’s when State Patrol Lt. Mike Eggleston stepped in.

“That’s a tactical carry of a weapon and this is a place of government,” Eggleston said to Jason McMillon, who argued that he couldn’t safely sling the pistol over his shoulder.

“I’m not going to ask you again,” Eggleston said. “Then you’re going to have to leave.”

As McMillon continued to argue, Eggleston made it clear the man was risking arrest.

"We don't want to arrest anybody, but we will,” he said.

Finally, McMillon stuffed the large pistol into the inside pocket of his overcoat. McMillon said his intent was not to intimidate.

“I understand what they’re getting at,” he said. “But the simple fact of the matter is I served 20 years in the military. I know how to handle my weapon.”

The earlier gun rally was to protest Washington’s new voter-approved background check law.

Several gun-related measures are expected to be introduced in the Washington legislature this year. Already, House Republicans are sponsoring a bill to prohibit the state from keeping a database of individuals who have applied to purchase a pistol.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.