Senator Ron Wyden at Newberg (photo/Randy Stapilus)
This time, they wanted answers about guns. And when they didn't get answers as specific as they were seeking, they asked again.
The economy seemed to take a back seat on this visit by Senator Ron Wyden to Yamhill County, one of his year's batch of town halls he has conducted (as he has for 16 years). Held at Newberg High School, it featured some questions about education policy (Wyden made a point of noting federal payments, related to land ownership, that has gone to Oregon schools, and his "know before you go" bill for college students). But guns and matters related to the "fiscal cliff" tended to dominate - both matters that haven't figured so heavily in other recent visits by Wyden.
At the sessions, the senator doesn't start with a discussion of any particular topic, and doesn't do much to steer the subjects of discussion. (He did ask toward the end, "No questions about gay marriage or marijuana?" He quickly got both, responding that he was in favor of the first and "not there yet" on the second - language suggesting, as President Obama did on gay marriage, that he's on a road heading there.)
One student did ask about the new federal health care laws, and Wyden singled out praise for the provision banning insurers from blocking people with pre-existing conditions. But he also noted the difficulty of reaching broad-based agreements, citing his efforts last year with Representative Paul Ryan on Medicare: "I still have the welts on my back from that one."
Guns seemed a preoccupying issue, but while Wyden set out general ideas he eased back from some specifics. He said he didn't yet know enough to decide whether large magazines should be banned (limited to military or police). He said he didn't like the idea of arming teachers (in response to a question about that from one student).
Next Yamhill senator town hall (with one with Jeff Merkley): Thursday, at McMinnville.