By Carol McCracken (Post # 452)
About seventy-five men openly carrying guns attended a rally this afternoon at Back Cove to “have a good time with friends with common interests such as open carry,” said Shane Belanger, 19, the organizer of the well- publicized event. Belanger said the rally had nothing to do with politics. It ended around 3:30 pm – peacefully.
For most it was about exercising the right to open carry guns “because if you don’t exercise the right, you’ll lose it,” one of several mantras of the day. Clayton King said: “It’s an opportunity to exercise a right that isn’t always in the public view. I support the constitution.” That philosophy prevailed among the group of men – many with cameras and dogs beside them. An exception was a man who refused to be identified, but he has a license to carry a concealed weapon. He told Shane Belanger that his group was going about making their statement in the wrong way and would backfire on them. An experienced gun handler who served in the military, he charged the group with “flinging something in the faces of others.”
On the other side of the parking lot were a smaller group with a different point of view. The unidentified gun expert may have a point. Among them was Councilor Dan Skolnik. He wants the state legislature to pass a law that permits Portland to ban the open carry law. Standing in front of a flat-bed truck displaying the Confederate flag and a critical sign about President Obama was Jim Millard. He was carrying an old Obama campagin sign to block out the Confederate flag as best he could. “I don’t care so much about the guns – it’s more about the Confederate flag flying in Portland. That upsets me.” (See upper left photo.)