'Packin' Heat Meet & Greet' to chat about gun issues

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: January 14, 2013, 11:58 AM

 

A Vancouver man focusing on open carry firearm laws is preparing to host a "Packin' Heat Meet & Greet" next month for like-minded folks to talk about gun laws, politics and, as host Tony Thomas puts it, "whatever else strikes our fancy."

Thomas is the founder of Open Carry Vancouver, which might not even be considered a proper group yet; he is currently the sole contributor to the conversation. But that appears ready to change come February.

Thomas wasn't sure how many people he would be interested in a meet-up to discuss open carry, but so far the idea appears popular. As of Friday afternoon, over 70 people have sent in their RSVP via Facebook.

"It's really amazing," Thomas said. "It's just kind of taken off naturally."

The one-man group began last autumn with Thomas creating a few videos under the Open Carry Vancouver name and posting them to YouTube. He tackled issues such as the rights of gun owners and what to do when you are required to provide identification for police officers.

But as talks over gun control and Second Amendment rights heated up in the wake of December's shootings at the Clackamas Town Center mall near Portland and at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Thomas realized it might be good to add others to the conversation.

"This is the first event I've ever done personally, but I think it's a good time to talk about this right now," Thomas said. "Basically, this is a place where a bunch of open carry folks and people who support the Second Amendment can meet and talk."

The event is being held from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 16 at Coffee Villa, 13011 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

For information, visit the group's website at Open Carry Vancouver.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov ; erik.hidle@columbian.com.