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Comments on power, dispossession, and self-defense

Over the past several years, there have been several gay-bashing incidents in Portland and elsewhere in Oregon. Assault, among other things, is a way of exerting power over someone, and a way of demonstrating physical dominance. It is also used to instill fear in people who share characterists with the assaulted persons. However, Oregon offers gays and other dispossed people an important means of self-defense:
It's called a concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permit. This permit allows you to legally carry a concealed handgun on your person while you are in public, with the exception of school, government, and certain other facilities. Oregon is also a "shall-issue" CCW state - this means that anyone with a clean criminal background will be issued a permit if they present the proper paperwork. There is no discretion on the part of the sheriff to turn your application down simply because the sheriff does not like you - if you meet the requirements, the law says that you MUST be issued the permit. It is my experience, based on helping numerous people get through the process, that sheriffs in Oregon respect the law, and that many are even sympathetic to the need of gay persons to defend themselves.

In order to apply for a CCW permit, you will need only a handful of things:

-A criminal history clean of convictions for violent crimes.

-An application fee of $65

-Your fingerprints

-Two forms of identification

-Documentation that you have completed a firearms safety course

The course is very important, because it will teach you the fundamentals of firearms safety. Most importantly, it will give you the training you need to further train yourself - aim and stance, draw speed and handgun retention, etc.

The decision to carry a CW is a deeply personal one that be accompanied with responsibility. But it is a very important tool for people who might otherwise be left to the wolves. I myself have deterred a violent assault because I chose to exercise my CCW rights. The argument that "more guns aren't the solution" is half-right: if we could purge all guns from the land, then we'd indeed be making progress. But that isn't going to happen. Rather, more guns in responsible hands ARE part of the "solution."

The old saying is that "Jah helps those who help themselves." Well, this is one important way that we can "help ourselves."

Washington has similar CCW provisions. If you are curious about obtaining a CCW, then by all means, visit a range. Try your hand at shooting. Maybe you won't like it, and that will be the end of your dealings with firearms - but you have nothing to gain but new experience.
Just some clarifications and corrections 30.Sep.2005 17:10

Not a pacifist

A pacifist told me this story.

He and a friend were walking in Wrigleyville in Chicago when a group of drunk white boys approached and yelled, "Let's kick these faggoty asses."

The friend pulled out his 9 mm. and said, "Not tonight, boys."

Needless to say, that stopped them cold.

I applaud any means of self-defense against bigots. Up to and including their death, if necessary. But don't think that getting a concealed weapons permit is an automatic (sorry for the pun).
The necessary course to get the permit does not teach you how to use a pistol effectively. That takes practice. No concealed weapons course in the Portland area uses live ammo or teaches you stance, etc. You have to be taught in other sessions or learn at a range. If you get a permit, buy a weapon and don't practice with it, well, you should carry a hammer instead. Throw it at them and you are likely to have better results.
As well, the cops will swiftly pull the permit if you are arrested for what is perceived as political protest. Yeah, it happens. You can almost kill someone in a brawl at a tavern and keep the permit, but don't be arrested with a protest sign in your hands if you want to keep it.
And of course if you carry that weapon to a protest and get arrested, even though you have a legal right to do so, expect to be shot and/or be the lead story in the Oregonian and on TV.
Oh, you might want to keep in mind that about 50,000 people in Oregon have such a permit. So be nice in public.