Gun debate triggers dueling Bend protests

Several dozen people from both sides gather downtown

Gun debate plays out in downtown Bend

BEND, Ore. - A heated discussion over gun control took place outside Rep. Greg Walden's office in downtown Bend Friday evening. One side said they want universal background checks for gun purchases, while the other said they do not want their Second Amendment rights infringed upon.

Members of the grassroots group Organizing for Action said they want Walden to support President Obama's gun control initiatives, such as limiting large-capacity clips, banning assault-style weapons and creating a federal policy for universal background checks of all gun purchases.

Many of them came carrying signs that said things like, "Close Background Check Loopholes."

"Let law-abiding citizens get guns, but not let them in the hands of criminals and those who are going to do harm," said Jason Burge. "We're unable to get any kind of clear idea of where Greg Walden stands on the issue."

Several members from the Bend Tea Party, Madras Tea Party, NRA members and Deschutes County Republicans also showed up for a counter-protest with their own signs. Many said they do not want any changes to gun laws and hope Walden will stand behind them.

"We don't have any reason to believe that any of the gun laws should be changed," said Deschutes County Republicans member John Philo. "I think we have our Second Amendment rights."

At times, the discussions got heated between the two sides, but remained fairly calm.

Organizing for Action members pointed to a recent Quinnipiac poll, asking voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania where they stand on universal background checks. Over 90 percent polled said they support it.

"I really feel like we have to do something to stop these terrible things that are happening in our schools and other places," said Joanne Daley.

One father of four, standing by his children and wife, said limiting a magazine to 10 bullets puts his family at risk. He said that each family member is not worth only two bullets.

"I'm just trying to protect my family," Shawn Bowlin said.

Walden was traveling in Eastern Oregon Friday, where he held several town halls. His press secretary said the congressman "welcomes and relies on input from all Oregonians, including those offering their opinions today."

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