Gun Store Closes to Avoid Assault Rifle Controversy in Portland, Oregon — Activists Claim Minor Victory

By Peter Bergel

Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop Gun Violence

“They didn’t sell any assault rifles today. That’s a start.” exclaimed nonviolence practitioner Tom Hastings after he and associate Peter Bergel arrived at Shooter’s Service Center in the St. John’s area of Portland on September 22 to find the door locked and the “open” sign turned off. The pair had warned both the store’s owners and the police that they planned to renew their request that the owners stop selling semiautomatic rifles, and would remain in the store until they agreed.

About a dozen others joined Hastings and Bergel. When they found the doors locked and the shop dark, they stood outside, showed their signs to motorists and passed out leaflets. Several chatted with a passerby wearing a National Rifle Association hat. One sign carried the activists’ main message: “Help protect our children – stop selling assault rifles.”

“We are confident that the people who own this store are no more anxious to see mass shootings than the rest of us,” said Bergel. “They could provide real leadership by refusing to sell the type of weapon frequently used in these shootings. If they did, perhaps others would do so also.”

Many of the passing motorists and pedestrians flashed thumbs-up signs or honked their support when they saw the group’s signs.

The group remained until the shop’s posted closing time in order to ascertain that it did not re-open today.

“We would have preferred to dialog with the shop’s owners today, and were prepared to risk arrest to do so, but they are not here,” said Hastings.

This action was part of the 2022 Campaign Nonviolence Days of Action.

Peter Bergel is a retired director of Oregon PeaceWorks and Editor of The PeaceWorker. He has a long history of organizing for abolition of nuclear weapons and power.

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