Gun rights advocates took over the southwest corner of Town Square on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, showing support for the thousands of demonstrators who rallied outside the Virginia Capitol building that morning.
The 22,000 or so East Coast protestors opposed a slate of gun control measures favored by the newly Democratic-controlled state legislature. Though concerns of violence from suspected white supremacist groups led Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency and ban firearms on the state’s Capitol grounds, the Virginia rally remained largely peaceful.
So did the gathering in Jackson, which attracted about 10 people and lasted about an hour.
Some attendees came from Star Valley. Some wore guns on their hips and, occasionally, the group, which the Jackson Hole Tea Party organized, broke into patriotic chants.
“I like my rights protected,” said Trish Herasme, who moved to the valley from Virginia.
She said she had dropped by to “chit chat” with the demonstrators because she supported the cause. Herasme spoke while the group behind her said the Pledge of Allegiance. At various points, the crowd got honks from passing automobiles.
As states like Virginia have considered passing restrictive gun laws, some local governments have passed so-called “sanctuary” resolutions saying they won’t enforce new gun control measures. There is debate over whether the measures have legal basis, or if they are purely symbolic gestures.
Nonetheless, Bob Culver of the Jackson Hole Tea Party said the Lincoln County Republican Party Central Committee had passed one such resolution. Advocates plan to present another to the party’s state committee in February.
Culver said he was not concerned about gun control measures passing soon in Wyoming, but he felt it was worth drawing attention to the debate in other states.
“There's a storm approaching Wyoming. It's coming from the East, it’s coming from the West, it’s people bringing their ideals that are antithetical to our way of life,” Culver said. “It’s not here yet, but it’s time to start thinking about it.”