They came armed with AK-47s, AR-15s, handguns, and--for the youngest participants--even "bubble guns."
The Kirkland gun rights event, a "Day of Resistance" event, organized by a new local group called was modeled around the following information (from the Day of Resistance website):
On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions against your 2nd amendment Constitutional right to bear arms. He did this without the consent of Congress which in itself, violates the foundation of the Constitution and the co-equal branches of government.
In response to these unconstitutional actions by the President, on .223, February 23, 2013 the American people will stand together in defiance to protect the right that protects ALL of our rights, the 2nd Amendment! They will organize locally so that they may band together neighbor to neighbor and reassert their community's right to determine their own destiny.
Some attendees, including Bill Parkinson of Puyallup, were looking for Day of Resistance events, and finding none in the South Sound, traveled to Kirkland to participate.
Meanwhile, at least in the early hours of the peaceful picket, a lone gun control advocate, the Rev. Marian Stewart of Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church, stood on the corner opposite the 2nd Enforcer demonstration. Stewart held a sign that stated that a child dies every three hours, which she said references research published on the Million Mom March website that indicate a child is killed on average every 3 hours from a gunshot.
Jacob Kukuk, founding member of the recently incorporated nonprofit 2nd Enforcers, which says on its website its mission is to protect the rights of the people at all costs, said the reason for the event in Kirkland was in part because he wanted to get the message out where he lives.
"A lot of us live in Kirkland, and 2nd Enforcers was founded in Kirkland," Kukuk said. "We're peaceful, we want to leave a good impression. We would never discourage the opposing side from showing up."
Stewart said she strongly represents the other side.
"I can't cry over things like Sandy Hook and Columbine and not do something," Stewart said, adding that she did not encourage her congregation to join her personal protest because of the invitation by 2nd Enforcers to bring guns to the rally.
"I didn't spread the word to the congregation because I didn't want them in harm's way," she said.
The pro-gun rights protesters came from all around the Puget Sound, from Port Orchard to Puyallup and South Tacoma, and most learned of the event from groups such as the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Washington Tea Party Facebook page. Many carried firearms openly, including handguns, rifles, and the controversial AR-15, in the news since the recent tragedy in Sandy Hook.
Kukuk said the group and its sister organizations normally stage events in Olympia, but he felt it was important to bring the message to where he lived.
Sandy Wolf, of Woodinville, said she attended because she's a firm believer in the second amendment.
Maya Ojalehto, who grew up in Kirkland, came with her friend Christopher, her daughter, and his daughter.
Kukuk said one of his main goals has been to cooperate with the community. He said he got permission from the Kirkland Police for the demonstration (an event permit is not required for peaceful picketing), and that the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce assisted in getting the word out to local businesses that the group had no intention of disrupting traffic or their business operations.
Kukuk said he had only one response from a local business to the notification, from the Kirkland Car Wash, which he said was "very immature." Kukuk said members of the group plan to boycott the business, but would not picket in front of the business or disrupt their operations.
Editor's note: A reference to a counter protester's sign has been clarified here.