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In Riot-Weary Portland, Concealed Carry Is On The Rise

The number of concealed carry applications pouring into the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office over the past few weeks is nearly double what it was in January of last year, and Portlandians from across the political spectrum have decided that the city is just too unsafe to go unarmed.

According to Willamette Week, the sheriff’s office has accepted more than 600 concealed carry applications since January 1st, but the surge in demand dates back several months.

The correlation between social upheaval and concealed carry applications in Multnomah County was most glaring in the summer months.

In May 2020, 265 people applied for CHLs through the sheriff’s office. In June, shortly after racial justice protests began in downtown Portland, applications rose to 692. They peaked in July (986 applications), followed by August (919) and September (961). Those were the months immediately following Trump’s deployment of federal officers to downtown Portland.

By the end of 2020, the demand for concealed firearms began to slacken: In December, the sheriff’s office received 514 applications—the lowest number since May. But so far, January 2021 has outpaced December 2020 by almost 100 concealed carry applications.

The weekly paper half-heartedly suggests that some of the recent applications may be the result of the storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this year, but given that the events in Washington, D.C. took place 3,000 miles away from Portland, it’s not a very convincing argument. Even the Portland press has to acknowledge that there’s plenty of unrest locally to fray the nerves of residents.

But some of that civil unrest is homegrown. On Jan. 6, far right activists held their own Stop the Steal rally at the state Capitol in Salem. On Inauguration Day, anarchist protesters smashed the windows of the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters. Separately, City Commissioner Dan Ryan told The Oregonian in mid-January that his home had been vandalized seven times since late October, when he voted against cutting the Portland Police Bureau’s budget.

The politically motivated violence in Portland has become a regular feature in the city. Last weekend there were more violent protests in the downtown area, and I expect more to come.

Even Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler seems to have finally gotten fed up with lunacy that’s taken over the city. Wheeler ended up using pepper spray on a local attorney last Sunday after he was confronted by the man over not wearing a mask while eating at a Portland restaurant.

Wheeler and Sam Adams, who served one term as Portland mayor from 2009 to 2013, had been dining in a tented area and were walking to their cars when Cadonau approached, unmasked, and got close to the mayor’s face while filming with his phone, according to police reports.

According to a statement the mayor gave to police, Wheeler told the man of current COVID-19 regulations, which allows people to take their mask off to eat or drink.

“He then accused me of other things to which I indicated he did not understand the rules and should probably have a better understanding if he was going to confront people about them,” Wheeler said in his statement.

Wheeler said that the man stood within one or two feet of him and Wheeler became concerned for his safety and contracting COVID-19. Wheeler told the man to “back off” and that he was carrying pepper spray, which he would use if necessary. When the man did not listen, the mayor said he sprayed him in the eyes.

“He seemed surprised and backed off,” Wheeler told police. “He made a comment like, ‘I can’t believe you just pepper sprayed me.’”

How long before Mayor Wheeler surreptitiously wanders in to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to drop off his own concealed carry application? Heck, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if his application is already in the pile of backlogged forms that have been submitted over the last couple of months.

Homicides are at a 26-year high in the city and local officials are still out to lunch; calling for a “vaccine of love” to deal with the riots, looting, vandalism, and shootings instead of bolstering the Portland police and targeting the most prolific offenders in the city. I don’t think that Portland’s going to become much safer anytime soon, which is why I expect the number of Portlandians embracing their right to keep and bear arms to grow even larger in the months ahead.

May 16, 2021 11:30 AM ET
May 16, 2021 8:30 AM ET