Although it is convenient to characterize the opponents of Nickels' gun ban merely as a lot of flannel and camo-clad yokels from Auburn or Kent or Enumclaw, the audience was far more representative of the city as a whole than one might stereotypically expect.
There were healthy numbers of liberals and progressives, environmentalists and community activists mixed in with Republicans and Libertarians who were opposed to the notion that, despite being licensed to legally carry a concealed firearm, they'd be forced to walk unarmed in city parks while gang members, stalkers and sundry other criminals are free to pack heat.
Lonnie Wilson, a Lynnwood resident, said he and his partner frequently visit Seattle because it is the center of gay cultural life in the region. He has had a concealed pistol license for eight years.
"As a gay man, I have to be very careful about holding the hand of my partner in public," Wilson said. "I don't want to hide myself just to be safe. Minorities such as myself are the biggest target of hate crimes."
Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, a civil rights lawyer and former President of the Asian Bar Association of Washington said the ban hurts the most vulnerable in the community, minorities, women, domestic violence victims and the disabled. She quoted FBI crime statistics stating that of the 9,000 hate crimes committed in 2007, 41 percent occured on government-owned property.
"Wicked and cowardly men who commit hate crimes do not obey the law," Ward said. "Do not disarm or criminalize those they seek to harm."
Maggie Willson, from Seattle, described herself as a "gun-toting tree-hugger" who campaigned for Barack Obama. She spoke about being raped at knife-point and living in fear for several years before a friend taught her how to shoot.
"Gun bans hurt women more than they hurt men," Willson said adding that she now feels secure, as a CPL holder, to hike at Carkeek Park.