I have gone to a variety of demonstrations for 55 years, beginning with a sympathy march for the folks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in the spring of 1965 and continuing through the anti-Vietnam war era. On Saturday, July 25, in Eugene, I went to the demonstration at the federal building during the evening feeling considerable sympathy for folks in Portland. It was the first time in 55 years that I have been at a demonstration where firearms, both long guns and pistols, were on display and used to try to intimidate. It was also, in 55 years, the first time I have ever been at a demonstration where a shot was fired from a firearm.
This situation is a direct result of Oregon’s open carry laws with regard to firearms.
The open carry laws are in direct conflict with First Amendment rights to demonstrate. In fact, large numbers of folks who would like to express their disagreement with current policies will not attend a rally at which firearms are displayed and used. They will act in fear for their lives. The display and use of firearms has a clear chilling and discouraging effect upon First Amendment rights. Oregon needs to repeal its open carry laws. First Amendment rights have clear preference.
By the way, I am a gun owner.
Charles W. Hunt