Yes. I had never been in a public place and seen men with rifles.
Walking among us--women, children, old people. Neighbors of mine have gathered since the gun murders in our own city at Clackamas Town Center, followed by the elementary school in New Town, Connecticut. We were at a rally to support gun control. City Hall in downtown Portland.
An hour earlier friends and I had listened to a plea from Penny Okamoto of Ceasefire Oregon to mobilize ourselves to move along legislation under review in the state house. She is the hardworking, unpaid staff person. There is no paid staff for the group.
At the rally I'd met, talked with state senator Ginny Burdick, who represents this area. Another hardworking woman who has spent years trying to get more human-centered gun control legislation passed. Another hardworking woman.
I cannot get used to the idea often voiced that we should speak of "gun safety" because that is less infuriating to our opponents than "gun control."
Then the opposition, supported by the head of the state Republican Party went to Burdick's home and videotaped her daily life--like taking out trash. We were prepared to attend a meeting she called on upcoming legislation. She cancelled the meeting.
Next, Steve Duin, among the few readable columnists in the sad daily, had a Sunday piece with this headline "Intimidation tactics may silence Salem..." [Salem is the state capitol not the one with the witchhunt history in Massachusetts].
Now we learn that Mitch Greenlick, another member of the state legislature, has been subject to pro-gun ire that speaks to precisely who these people are, the racist anti-Obama men and women we've heard about nationally, the Tea Party enthusiasts:
"But even Greenlick has been surprised by the abusive, obscene and anti-Semitic tenor of the reaction to his support for gun-control legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre."
The next day there was an Op-ed column by Joe Nocera in the New York Times. "Politics by Intimidation" tells the Oregon gun story. Must come as a surprise to all those convinced that Portland, the City of Roses, was like the light-hearted view from "Portlandia," great restaurants, craft beer overflowing. But guns?
Living in Baltimore, in Harlem, I never felt as edgy about being on the streets as I do now. Day or night who knows if I may be sitting in a restaurant next to someone with a concealed weapon. And he has a disagreement with his wife?