Explosive gang violence prompts action
Police said a man was shot in the face around 1 a.m. on Friday in the vicinity of North Interstate Avenue and Skidmore Street . It was the ninth suspected gang shooting over a wide geographical area of north, northeast and southeast Portland over a three day period. Photo by Mark Washington.
In response to nine shootings in which three people were shot and injured over a three day period last week, Portland Mayor Sam Adams has proposed a set of ordinances intended to keep illegal firearms out of the hands of offenders and off the street.
Police suspect the shootings in north, northeast, and southeast Portland were gang related. Eight of them occurred in the course of 24 hours.
Adams said he began preparing the initiatives shortly after taking over the Portland Police Bureau last spring. They would impose a curfew for juveniles who’ve violated gun laws in the past, create the new crimes of failing keep firearms from children and failing to report the loss or theft of a firearm, increase the penalties for the possession of a loaded firearm in public, and exclude people who have been convicted of illegal firearm use for areas of the city where the problem is particularly acute- with some variances.
“The illegal use of firearms is a long-standing community in the City of Portland. Changes to federal and state gun laws are needed,” said Adams in a prepared statement.
Adams mentioned that firearms are primarily regulated at the state and federal levels, leaving local governments with few resources. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Chicago’s ban on hand guns was essentially unconstitutional, significantly limiting the ability of local governments to regulate firearms.
“In the meantime, due to lax gun safety law, cities like Portland get caught in the crossfire: literally and tragically,” Adams added.
For the next two weeks, Adams will be soliciting input for the initiatives before drafting ordinances that will be drafted into ordinances and brought before City Council. During that time he is soliciting public comment, which can be sent to email@example.com by Sept. 3.
Shortly after Adams made the announcement, the Oregon Firearms Federation released a particularly venomous statement opposing the initiatives. Calling the mayor’s proposals a “PR stunt” that violates state law, the organization predicted that they would backfire.
There is already a law on the books that places a curfew on teenagers.
Although the exact language of the initiatives is still being hammered out, the City of Portland has run into problems in past years with drug or prostitution-free zones that attempt to exclude anyone associated with those activities from a given area. Critics have decried that approach as not only ineffective, but unconstitutional, and challenged them in court.
It’s unclear if the initiative that excludes people who’ve violated gun laws from areas suffering from high gun crime could be similarly challenged.