Republican county and state officials rallied around gun rights and property rights at a Morton “freedom rally” Saturday, where few people in the crowd of about 50 people wore masks.
In Gust Backstrom Park, state Reps. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, both evoked the idea of property rights and the fear of home invasions.
“If a criminal knows you don’t have a gun, are they going to have any reservation about robbing you? No,” Orcutt said, noting his membership with the NRA. “But the fact that you have the right to own it, the fact that the criminals don’t know whether you own it, is the reason why we’re as safe as we are in this country.”
Walsh echoed that sentiment, telling residents that their ability to protect their own homes in turn protects the community.
“That collective good, that deterrence to bad actors trying to break into your house, starts with the individual right to protect your home and your person,” Walsh said.
In keeping with the trend of gun rights, Lindsey Pollock, running for county commissioner district 2, whipped out her concealed carry permit, telling attendees “this should be all the paperwork we need.”
Many speakers also expressed appreciation for law enforcement officers, including gubernatorial candidate and Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, as well as Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar, who was in attendance.
“I think we should back the blue every time we get an opportunity,” County Commissioner Bobby Jackson said, gesturing to Morningstar. “I hope you love on this guy every chance you get.”
Morningstar recently faced some online backlash after erecting a “Trump Tower” in his front lawn, with some saying it resembled a Ku Klux Klan hood.
COVID-19 restrictions were also discussed and condemned at the rally. Jackson posed one question that evidently resonated with Morton residents.
“How many of you are done with COVID?” Jackson said. “We’re done with this, we’ve had it with this, we’re tired of it … and I’m going to tell you something right now, our schools need to reopen, plain and simple.”
Jackson assured attendees that he and his fellow county commissioners are “pushing this idea very strongly” with Lewis County Public Health and Social Services, which is currently recommending a more moderate approach than some schools are pursuing and some parents have demanded.
Jackson, who went on to endorse President Donald Trump to much applause, didn’t attempt to downplay the effects of the pandemic, which has claimed over 2,000 victims in Washington and nearly 200,000 nationwide. Neither did other speakers, instead honing in on a sense of unfairness when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Sean Swope, running for county commissioner district 1, delivered a more theatrical speech on the topic, referencing the 1995 film “Braveheart” and characterizing COVID-19 restrictions as an erosion of freedom.
“In the name of health, our businesses have been shut down, our schools and places of worship have been told we can’t gather with our friends and family,” Swope said. “These are the basic fundamental rights, and yet we see how easily they’ve been surrendered.”
Although not directly referencing the Second Amendment, Swope told Morton residents to be ready to “fight.”
“We need to be prepared to fight against the government’s petty tyrants,” he said. “Especially Jay Inslee, a small man with an enormous ego, a thirst for power and a job he treats as a throne.”
Swope’s competitor, Commissioner Edna Fund, didn’t focus on the Second Amendment as much as other speakers. Instead, Fund used much of her time appealing to Morton voters by emphasizing her connection to the community, challenging residents to a brief round of Morton trivia and sporting a Morton-White Pass baseball cap. Jackson followed suit, reminiscing on his time announcing Morton’s high school sports on the radio.
The rally’s loosely-planned parade did not end up happening, although a raffle did take place. Several items were given away, including Trump gear and a “make liberals cry” T-shirt.