Memorial Day was freighted with extra meaning in Portland on Monday.
The May 24 massacre of children at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school has renewed debate over the need to restrict the sale of semi-automatic weapons. In Oregon, the argument was felt most keenly in the governor’s race—especially after independent candidate Betsy Johnson made an unexpected appearance at TEDxPortland and was confronted on her gun rights votes.
On May 30, a senior women’s activist group, the Raging Grannies, presented a chilling tableau: They carried a coffin from the federal courthouse to Pioneer Courthouse Square—”to honor the thousands of Americans who have died at the hands of government-sanctioned gun violence.”
Their memorial echoed the words of six Portland-area state lawmakers, who issued a statement last week calling for Congress to act on gun control. The Democratic legislators—Dacia Grayber, Rachel Prusak, Andrea Salinas, Barbara Smith Warner, Ricki Ruiz and Lisa Reynolds—pledged “bold action” in the next session of the Oregon Legislature.
Their statement concluded:
“This public health crisis is the result of years of irresponsible inaction and recklessly lax gun laws that allowed yesterday’s shooter to legally purchase two AR-style rifles just days before the attack, it’s why children across the country practice active shooter drills when they should be focused on learning, and it’s why communities across our nation are terrorized by gun violence.
“For this reason, we desperately need and urge Congress to waive the filibuster and take action before another child is killed. There are sensible gun laws, supported by a majority of Americans, that Congress can pass quickly, including reinstating a ban on assault-style weapons or limiting high-capacity magazines. The Senate can immediately pass H.R. 8 to address background check requirements.
“Now more than ever, we need action, not prayers and platitudes.”