Readers Respond to a Gun Policy Reversal by Betsy Johnson

“Betsy forgot that the problem with guns is that sometimes one can shoot themselves in the foot.”

The ideas conference TEDxPortland and gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson are in a tight race for who had the worse week. Johnson’s unscheduled May 27 appearance at TEDx prompted jeers from the crowd outraged by her votes against gun control bills, a sudden effort by Johnson to shift her position on the issue (One Question, WW, June 1), and seven complaints to the Oregon Department of Justice about whether TEDx violated tax laws barring nonprofits from participating in political campaigns. (The Justice Department forwarded the complaints to the IRS.) Here’s what our readers had to say:

Serge, via wweek.com: “Betsy’s served in the Legislature since 2001. She never changed her pro-gun agenda after Sandy Hook, Roseburg, Parkland, Las Vegas, El Paso, Orlando, etc., etc., etc., but now that she’s running for governor, she’s had a sudden change of heart?”

Jorge Lara, via Facebook: “Sure looks like TEDx shit the bed on this one. Nonprofit promoting a candidate in violation of IRS laws. And their excuse is that she is a ‘potential’ candidate? Somebody should tell Phil Knight that the $1,000,000 he gave her was a mistake as she is not a candidate.”

Herb Welch, via wweek.com: “Betsy forgot that the problem with guns is that sometimes one can shoot themselves in the foot.”

PDXBill, via wweek.com: “Faux outrage in a city with nine shooting incidents in the last 24 hours and record-breaking gun violence. Be outraged at your local elected officials, DA and Portland Police Bureau that can’t ‘control guns’ and gun violence in our own city. That’s from a guy that supports gun control and has never belonged to the NRA.”

Waygee, via wweek.com: “For someone who bills themselves as such a straight shooter, she’s playing the standard politician’s card of avoiding the topic at hand and instead giving us vague, non-controversial platitudes.”

Joshua Marquis, via wweek.com: “One of the main reasons I support Betsy Johnson is that she consistently support law enforcement, victims and meaningful prosecution of gun crimes. This entire manufactured controversy runs at complete odds with her actual votes on crime issues. “Betsy scares the establishment in Oregon. They will do anything to tear her down.”

Scrappymutt, via wweek.com: “I gotta admit, Betsy Johnson has been a severe disappointment. I was just reading about Michael Shellenberger, who is running as an independent for California governor, and I think he has a much better grasp on what an independent candidate should be offering. He wants gun control and abortion access, but is focusing his campaign on ending homeless camps by building a statewide network of drug treatment and mental health facilities, and trying to do it with existing funds rather than raising taxes and creating more committees. That’s a candidate I could get behind. Instead, we get a Democrat who is anti-environment and pro guns. Great.”

Cindy Abernethy, via Facebook: “Betsy is at least consistent. She was a Democrat who voted like a Republican. Then she saw she could get a lot of financial support for a governor campaign if she formally acknowledged her move to the right, so she became ‘unaffiliated,’ a move that could easily hurt a Democratic candidate in the upcoming election whether Betsy won or not. So now the focus has homed in on guns again after the latest massacre on school grounds, and she sees that being pro gun isn’t going to help her much, so she swings back toward the left—at least in vague statements.

“Bottom line, does anyone really know what Betsy supports besides herself? The only thing we know for sure is how she voted on various issues. Actions speak louder than words, so I’m going by her record.”

LETTERS to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: PO Box 10770, Portland OR, 97296 Email: mzusman@wweek.com