a-changin', eh? When things happen this fast, I feel like I should have a look in the ol' crystal ball and see what I might see.
Having done so, I present the following two predictions, formulated well within the koo-koo crazy liberal bubble of inner southeast Portland.
Indulge me, if you will.
Prediction #1: Our society will eventually become "gun-segregated"
In an insane counter-reaction to the horrific murders that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, and more recently in Charleston, South Carolina, gun rights advocates in Texas and other states are actually pushing laws to make openly carrying lethal weapons the new societal norm. The "Open Carry" movement, if you will.
Fearful of some nefarious (and yet-to-materialize) plot from the federal government to seize their precious guns, "Open Carry" folks hope to preempt any attempt at reasonable gun regulations by pushing legislation expressly designed to make guns more visible and present in our culture.
It seems impossibly backward to imagine that living in a society where people strap weapons to their hips to go to church, dine out, or go shopping will be a less violent society. But some folks insist on it. And, so far at least, they have the political upper hand.
Regardless of the passion of the gun rights folks, many people aren't comfortable being around guns. As I said to a friend who is a vociferous gun rights advocate, "Most folks don't wanna sit down for Thai food at a place where half the clientele is packing heat."
But I'm not all that worried, frankly. I think this will all sort itself out.
Open Carry advocates may (and do) have the legal right to carry their weapons with them in public. But that does not give them the right to carry their weapons onto private property. When the non-gun-toting public starts avoiding businesses frequented by folks with assault rifles and pistols, I predict many businesses will quickly announce "No Guns Allowed" policies. In fact, it's already happening: at department stores, restaurants, and coffee bars, people carrying guns are politely asked to leave.In other incidents, people carrying guns have caused panic and mayhem.
Not exactly good for business, eh?
On the other hand, some businesses will specifically cater to the gun-friendly crowd. So, certain restaurants, stores, and (who knows?) maybe even bars and taverns which actively promote their tolerance for firearms will become haunts for gun fetishists.
Businesses will eventually build reputations as "gun friendly" or not, with commensurate patronage by the general public. Eventually, gun advocates will be pushed off to "open carry" enclaves, where they can admire one another's guns and imagine that they're manning the bulwarks of freedom.
And the rest of us can have a plate of pad thai in peace.
Prediction #2: Ganja! Ganja everywhere!
Now that ganja is legal as a recreational drug here in Oregon (as well as in Colorado, Washington, and Alaska), I predict that within a decade people will be openly consuming marijuana in public places.
Ganja has long been tolerated publicly. Here in Portland, certainly, and in many other cities throughout the US and Europe. But it's going to become even more prevalent.
In spite of the wording of Measure 91, which was passed by Oregon voters in last year's election, I predict that authorities will put small effort into enforcing the "no smoking in public" stipulation. For a while, they'll receive complaints from unenlightened souls, but law enforcement simply doesn't have the resources to spare in these days of austerity. People have been smoking dope more or less publicly for years. It's not going to stop.
And really, who are the benighted souls that would object to stoners passing the peace pipe in the park? Or around the campfire? Or on the beach?
And isn't it strange that smoking ganja is somehow perceived to be a threat to public safety, while carrying a loaded gun into a crowded marketplace is not?
A certain, sheltered element of our society is burdened by an irrational fear of marijuana, and for these folks the future looks frightening. But I predict that, as they become exposed to marijuana use (willingly or otherwise) they will overcome these fears. In fact, I can foresee a day when even the most uptight, suburban conservative might be heard to say: "You know, those potheads are pretty peaceful folk."
Que será, será
Prognostication inevitably makes a fool out of every practitioner. But whaddya gonna do, eh? It sure won't be the first time I've made a fool out of myself.
Let's see what happens!