SANDPOINT — Organizers of Saturday’s March For Our Rights on the Long Bridge said they were pleased with event’s turnout.
“The reaction was just amazing,” said Steve Wasylko, who hastily arranged the event to coincide with Saturday’s international March for Our Lives protests aimed at curbing gun violence.
Wasylko estimates as many as 300 people gathered at the north end of the bridge and suspects more would have shown if not for a potent dose of winter weather and a traffic-snarling collision on U.S. Highway 95 in Cocolalla, both of which preceded the event.
“To be quite honest, I think we would have a few hundred more,” said Wasylko a certified firearms dealer and instructor who operates Sandpoint Arms.
The turnout, nevertheless, was robust in Wasylko’s view. He thought the group he was in constituted the procession’s rear echelon.
“We got halfway down the bridge and turned around and saw another hundred people behind us, so there was still people coming and getting there late,” he said.
Bonner County resident Ron Korn said he was drawn to the event because of his affinity for the Second Amendment and his desire to protect it.
“It was a good experience and I’m really glad I participated,” said Korn, who has owned firearms since his teens.
Korn said the reactions of passersby was entirely positive.
“It was awesome. Every other car was honking their horn and people had their windows down in the snow to give us the thumbs-up,” said Korn.
Waslyko said he only clocked a few negative reactions to the rally.
“I saw one person flip us off and like two people do a thumbs-down. Other than that, it seemed like every fourth or fifth car was honking their horn and waving their hands,” Wasylko said.
As the divide between over gun control appears to wide nationally, Korn said the division is appearing in Bonner County, where residents with strong feelings on the issue have traditionally tended to keep their views to themselves.
“Our country is so divided and that’s what’s driving everything,” said Korn.
Wasylko, meanwhile, said more March For Our Rights demonstrations are being planned.
“Gun owners are kind of tired of being vilified when all really doing is saying, ‘Look we really just don’t think what you’re doing is solving the problem.’
“And I think people want to continue to get that message out there,” he said.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.