By Peter Hall of Haines, Oregon. In 2006, Peter ran for the Oregon Legislature in HD 60 "as a Democrat although I described myself as a progressive libertarian, someone who used to be welcome in the Republican party."
There has been a run on guns lately in my home county in Eastern Oregon. Some are afraid that a Democratic administration will ban assault weapons and hand guns. this is unlikely with all the more pressing matters, but it is not a paranoid view.
I spent most of the 2008 campaign in Montana, and it is amazing the numbers of people who would have voted for Obama if not for the gun issue. Even the reassurances of the governor and both senators were not enough to dissuade people from this view.
In Oregon, one man, Chuck Butcher, convinced the DPO to embrace the 2nd amendment. He explained to me that if our freedoms are taken away, it will come from the right, not the left, and maybe progressives are the ones who should be a little paranoid. If you look at the history of the labor movement, it is clear the value of being able to effectively defend yourself.
For me, the moment that really hit home was Katrina. It is clear we cannot count on our government to always be there to protect us. Our founding fathers understood this, and I believe the 2nd amendment was designed specifically to allow military style weapons in the hands of the public for those instances when defense of one's community can only be achieved by an ad hoc group because the government is unable or unwilling to come to its defense. The 2nd amendment is not for ordinary circumstances. It is there for the rare occurrences that hopefully never come to your community. This does not preclude some controls, but it is clear to me that our founders were not thinking of hunting rifles when they wrote the amendment.
The Democratic Party has a major opportunity to make the West blue (with the exception of Utah, that religion thing). Truly embrace responsible gun ownership, and we take a big weapon away from the right wingers (lame pun intended).