Rally set to protect Second Amendment rights
In light of recent mass shootings, Oregon legislators are seeking solutions to prevent such incidents in Oregon, including two initiative petitions (IP 43/44) that would ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity weapons.
Sandi Benfit of Sandy, along with hundreds of other Oregonians, are not pleased.
On Saturday, April 21, Benfit hosted a "Pro 2A" rally in Centennial Plaza in downtown Sandy. She and many others congregated to voice their concerns about the Legislature "infringing upon" their Second Amendment rights to bear arms. Similar groups also met that day in Eugene, Medford, Pendleton, Redmond and Salem.
"When I learned of (Initiative Petition) 43, I found myself reading all that I could find about this initiative," Benfit said. " With liberal mainstream media, I as a woman am left out when it comes to our Second Amendment. Firearms are given a negative light in our media and are associated with "evil" and more so, men. Why am I not seeing women with firearms? Trust me, we're out here! Why are we, the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives not having an equal voice? ... I can't just sit back and hope my rights will be protected."
If IP 43/44 receives enough signatures, they will appear on the ballot for the general election in November. If voted through, IP 43 and 44 would ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity weapons. Those already in possession of such weapons would have to register them, sell them to an out-of-state party or have them permanently disabled or disposed of.
The petition states: "The people of the State of Oregon find and declare that a reduction in the availability of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines will promote the public health and safety of the residents of this state."
Benfit has worked as a social worker for 25 years, and she said by going after guns, "(the government) is going after the wrong tool."
She argued that the tool to be targeted isn't guns. People who use guns to harm others are using another tool initially — their brains. With that in mind, she said, mental health services are really what should be worked on.
"This state has done so many cutbacks on mental health services," she noted. "It's one of the line item budgets that seems to always go first. ... The impact I see it has done on our community is a disservice. Taking our guns away or making adjustments to the (U.S.) Constitution as it is written isn't a solution."
Benfit was one of several women at the rally. Several men also attended, including gubernatorial candidate Greg Wooldridge. The Republican from Portland said he was happy to see so many people exercising their First Amendment rights to protect their Second Amendment rights.
"We've got to stand fast," he said. "We can't let (our right) get whittled away."
"How do you stop a bad guy with a gun?" he added, to the overwhelming response of, "A good guy with a gun."
Warner Pacific College student Frank George IV, 19, also spoke to, as he said, provide a youthful perspective on the Second Amendment than hasn't been covered in the news lately. George is a co-founder of the group called Northwest Trump Alliance for Change, a large, grass-roots, pro-President Donald Trump organization, and referred to the thousands of Portland high school students who marched for gun reform on April 20 as "radical and communist mobs."
"(Those) marching in Portland yesterday want the state to be responsible for making economic, defensive, civil, and now even moral choices on our behalf," George noted. "How much money we deserve, how we should best defend ourselves, how we should vote and learn, and what we ought to care about are all up to the government to decide."
George does not identify with this perspective publicized by others of his generation.
"Listen to your children, make sure they are not brainwashed by these state re-education camps we call public schools," George added. "Because it's happening here, folks! Young boys and girls even in Sandy High School are being indoctrinated to give up their freedoms to the state and spit on people like us for wanting to protect liberty. I talk to kids all the time whom I've seen grow up, and I see what they post online, and they rail against their parents and society and demand an end to all guns. It's telling of a dark future. But for every one of those, there are young people, willing to stand up and recognize that what we need is more freedom and greater self-responsibility, not more laws and state responsibility."
Many in attendance took to the mic to share their own opinions, several noted that the issue of supporting the Second Amendment wasn't truly party-specific. Former chairman of the Clackamas County Republican Party Ron LeBlanc referred people to the Oregon Firearms Federation for a report card of how each of the candidates who have filed for Oregon positions stand on the issue of gun reform.
"We need to replace the people running for office against our Second Amendment rights," LeBlanc said. He also encouraged those in attendance to reach out to educate people with differing opinions on why they should oppose IP 43 and 44. Reasons he provided include gun reform's possible effects on the economy, and in turn, education. LeBlanc sees the sales of firearms as beneficial to the economy and indirectly beneficial to the budget for education.
It is undecided whether Benfit will host another event like this in the future, but she said she will "do whatever's necessary" to protect her rights.
"I believe in our Second Amendment rights," she noted. "Without our Second Amendment rights, all of our other rights don't matter."