Proposals draw racial profiling concerns
To address the issue of illegal firearm use and reduce gang-related shootings in Portland, Mayor Sam Adams will bring forward a set of five proposed ordinances to the City Council on Thursday in an attempt to keep guns out of the hands of youth and ensure gun-owner responsibility.
Based on Portland police data findings that most gang violence occurs between 7 p. m. and 2:30 p.m., code changes would set a curfew of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for juveniles who have been previously convicted for violation of gun laws, and enact a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail for the illegal possession of a loaded firearm in a public place.
A child endangerment law to control access to firearms by a juvenile would bear penalties of 10 to 30 days in jail or fines of $500 to $1,250, with increased penalties if the child were to take the gun off the property of the owner to a public or school event.
Gun owners would be required to report the theft or loss of a firearm to law enforcement within 48 hours of knowing about it, or face a $500 fine and up to a $200 fine if the theft is reported without the gun’s serial number. Authorities say that 21 percent of the 248 to 327 guns that were stolen each year since 2006 have been used in crimes within two years of the theft.
Also, for three years, the proposals before the City Council would authorize three Illegal Firearms Use Hotspots or exclusion zones for people with criminal records of gun crimes, including a Central Zone from Interstate 405 to the west bank of the Willamette River and from Southwest Jefferson Street to Northwest Glisan Street; a North/Northeast Zone from Interstate Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Russell Street to Lombard; and an East Zone, from Northeast Glisan to Southeast Stark Street and between 148th and 162nd Avenues.
People convicted with certain gun crimes could be excluded from the zones for the length of their probation, parole, or court supervision, with the exception to return home, obtain social services or attend school.
Gun rights advocates have criticized Adams’ proposals, calling them a violation of state laws that prohibit the city from gun control regulations, but the city attorneys argue that the curfew, higher penalties, and exclusions would be allowed because they only affect people previously convicted of a gun offense.
Other concerns arise from local justice and police reform advocates such as the Albina Ministerial Alliance who worry that without a comprehensive strategy of gang and crime prevention and outreach, increased enforcement might entrap innocent youths and lead to racial profiling.
One church leader wrote a letter to the mayor in support of the gun ordinances, but felt that the council should devote more efforts toward the fundamental issues that lead to gun violence such as poverty, broken families, and lack of after school programs.
In response to racial profiling concerns, the mayor said an oversight committee would be assembled to meet twice a month to review the hot spot exclusion, analyze Portland police data, and report findings every six months to make sure there is no disparity of treatment.
The mayor will also present Thursday a draft of a proposed action plan to reduce youth and gang violence by the county’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, which would allocate money to the director of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention, Rob Ingram, to lead a new group on youth and gang violence as well as appoint a consultant to seek federal funding by to completing a community gang assessment.