And much more importantly, not a free one. Because nothing says freedom like this (boldface mine):
Ginny Burdick, 65, a veteran state legislator, is probably the fiercest gun control advocate in the Oregon State Senate. In recent years, however, as the chairwoman of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, she had focused most of her attention on tax policy and budgetary issues. Then came the horrors of Clackamas and Newtown…
Which is also why Burdick felt so strongly that Clackamas and Newtown, horrible though they were, offered a unique opportunity. Many gun extremists, however, realized the same thing. They fought back. In mid-January, two men began walking around a Portland neighborhood with assault weapons strapped to their backs. Even as schools in the area were locking down, the men insisted that they were “educating the public” about their Second Amendment rights. A month later, at a pro-gun rally at the State Capitol, a number of gun owners openly wielded their weapons — even bringing them into the building.
Burdick began receiving, as she puts it, “the usual threatening e-mails” — as did a fellow gun control advocate in the Legislature, Mitch Greenlick. He told The Oregonian that the e-mail he received from gun extremists was often abusive, obscene and anti-Semitic. He predicted that gun legislation would go nowhere because legislators were too frightened to act. “Politics by intimidation,” he called it.
And then there was Burdick. She was scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting on March 4. But at an earlier town hall held by several other legislators, gun advocates badgered them with angry questions. One of the questioners admitted he was carrying a concealed weapon. Fearing that someone might show up with a gun at her town hall, Burdick decided to postpone it. Not wanting to inflame the situation, she said she had a scheduling conflict.
This seems related:
For those who haven’t been to public meetings in cities, it’s always a tough crowd. When the meeting reached the audience question time, the very first speaker started going on and on, at which point, a woman declared, “You’re repeating yourself, and there are thirty other people waiting to ask a question” (which was true on all counts). So he got to the point (though I’m not sure what it was…) and finished. Contrast this to the healthcare town hall meetings of 2009 where some very agitated ‘patriots’ showed up with sidearms–in the actual meetings. Is anyone in the audience going to tell him to get to the point? Is anyone going to vociferously disagree with him? He is an agitated man with a gun. That is not politeness, that is fear, despite the quips about an armed society being a polite one.
If there is one hallmark failing urban neighborhoods, it is that residents don’t approach and criticize other people because they are afraid they will be shot. For cities to work, people have to be able to communicate with each other without fear of violence (ironically, one would think conservatives would be keen on the whole paralegal enforcement of community norms). That’s why the recent case of two sanitation workers who were threatened with a gun by a resident of Back Bay (a very wealthy and safe neighborhood) shocked residents.
I do not feel safe or free when I or my elected officials can be intimidated by threats of violence. What these morons do not understand is that, at some point, their opponents will become fed up and start giving them a taste of their own medicine (at which point rightwing squealing would commence–they can dish but can’t take). And we really don’t want to go there.