Olympia pro-gun rally message: 'We need to get off our butts'

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The controversy over gun control erupted in massive pro-gun rallies at state capitals across the country on Saturday, including here in Washington state.

More than 2,000 gun owners, many displaying their weapons, gathered at the state capital in Olympia to send a message. And they were passionate about it.

The crowd swarmed the grounds of the Capitol building at a Second Amendment rally organized by several gun rights groups. The protest came as lawmakers here and in Washington, D.C., debate how far to go to regulate gun ownership.

Many gun rally participants were outspoken, as they described what it feels like to have somebody trying to take away something that means a lot to them.

"I think people are really starting to realize, you know, hey - we actually need to get off our butts and do something about it," said gun owner Andrea Piquet.

Many at the rally brought their guns, including the controversial assault-style rifles some lawmakers want to ban. It's legal since Washington is an open-carry state, and participants were making the point that they are law-abiding, responsible citizens.

"To punish the people who didn't do anything for the acts of one madman is inherently wrong," said rally participant Aaron Bartlett, referring to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The gun owners say they believe politicians are going too far in proposing more regulations on firearms.

"At what point have you taken away so much that your gun rights don't resemble what they were intended to be in the first place," said Piquet.

Meanwhile, however, on the other side of Olympia, some residents were handing in their guns on Saturday.

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office decided to hold a free firearms disposal event, recognizing the Sandy Hook school shootings have generated strong emotions.

"We've been getting a lot of calls from citizens concerned about what happened," says Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza. "We are understanding of the feelings of the community, 'cause we're in the community."

There was nothing political about the gun turn-in - just a chance for the public to drop off unwanted guns and ammunition so that it can no longer accidentally end up in the hands of a criminal.

As one participant put it: "If somebody broke into our home, that's definitely something they'll be looking for."