VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A handful of pro-gun advocates are exercising their freedom to openly carry guns in Washington and are acting as an armed militia watching over homeless camp.
On Friday they didn’t just patrol the area. They rolled in with a late-night barbecue.
None of the homeless campers who spoke with KOIN 6 News seemed to have a problem with the gun-toting civilians. In fact, most of the people seemed to welcome the self-appointed armed guards — who say that are just trying to keep the peace.
The militia began patrolling a few weeks ago after hearing reports of crime and other incidents around the camp. The people at the camp and those who work with them are generally happy with what’s happening.
“I’m here usually til 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning most times and I see a lot of things that are frightening. I havent seen anybody pull any weapons out but I’m gonna tell you I’ve seen some things that are frightening,” homeless advocate Dorothy Rodriguez told KOIN 6 News. “To have these guys here and know that some of these people that I call my friends are able to sleep at night, they actually say, wow, I get to go to bed instead of have to walk around the streets and make sure that we’re all gonna be safe tonight. So I’m excited that they’re coming.”
Not everyone is excited. Though police do cruise the homeless camp regularly, some people worry the unofficial militia patrols could eventually stir up some trouble.
Mayor Tim Leavitt was there Friday night, and he’s worried.
“It seems like a recipe for unfortunate circumstances to happen down there,” Leavitt said.
The armed militia said they will continue to patrol the area as long as people at the camp need them and as long as they feel safe.