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 Lieutenant Mike Eggleston stepped in.
“That’s a tactical carry of a weapon and this is a place of government,” Eggleston said to Jason McMillon. McMillon 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, the Lieutenant made it clear he 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.