Students stage walkout in support of gun control ballot measure

Students stage walkout in support of gun control ballot measure
(AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

Is this going to sway any Oregon voters to support Measure 114 when they previously opposed it? I doubt it, especially given the number of adults in the room who’ll actually be tasked with enforcing the state’s new gun control restrictions if the ballot initiative is approved on November 8th who are speaking out against the measure.

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Still, several hundred students at Portland’s Grant High School participated in a walkout Tuesday afternoon, claiming that the new measures will keep them safe from harm.

“The two recent shootings definitely have emphasized the need for a type measure like this,” said Luke Henderickson a senior at Grant High School.

Henderickson is also the co-president of the Grant School Students For Gun Law Reform club. He’s hoping voters keep school students in mind when voting for Measure 114.

“This measure is historic and it’s very important,” said Henderickson. “And it’s time we get something in our Oregon legislation that addresses gun violence head-on like measure 114.”

… “I felt like it was really important to do this walkout to send a message like ‘hey, we too want a safe learning environment and we want freedom to walk the streets and not have to worry about guns or getting shot,” said Brady Winn who is part of the Gun Law Reform club at Grant High School.

I wonder if the students who participate in the “Students for Gun Law Reform Club” ever hear from anyone with a different point of view, like, say, some of the many law enforcement officers across the state who say that Measure 114 will actually make the public less safe?

“We recognize that we must address firearm violence, but Measure 114 is just not the answer,” said Shane Nelson, President of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association (OSSA).

OSSA is against the measure — saying it will put great risk of gun violence to the community as scarce public resources will be placed elsewhere to accommodate Oregon Measure 114.

“It will move very scarce law-enforcement resources from protecting our communities to doing backgrounds and issuing permits,” said Nelson in a recorded statement on the OSSA YouTube channel.

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Not only that, but according to a fiscal analysis of the ballot measure, it would saddle law enforcement agencies with tens of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates that will hit smaller departments and rural sheriffs’ offices particularly hard. Violent criminals, meanwhile, aren’t likely to abide by the measure’s requirement that they first acquire a permit-to-purchase before picking up a handgun or the ban on “high capacity” magazines that be inserted into state statute if Measure 114 becomes law.

According to the Oregon State Sheriffs Association’s general counsel, Measure 114 would fewer officers on the street and “more office staff issuing permits” at a time when the state “already has the lowest number of police officers per thousand in the United States” amidst a staggering increase in violent crime. Portland’s homicide rate has increased by more than 200% since 2019, so I don’t blame these students one bit for being concerned about their own safety.

As a recent investigation into Portland’s homicides has shown, however, it’s not responsible gun owners who are committing these crimes. Generally speaking, these offenders have had repeated contacts with the criminal justice system.

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The report found that 75% of homicides from 2019 to 2021 were committed with guns. That’s up from 60%, based on data collected from 2015 to 2019.

According to the report, on average, suspects in these shootings and homicides had committed 7 prior criminal offenses.

The report says that gun violence is driven by ongoing group conflicts and personal conflicts among group members. The report used the term “group” because the authors said it “captures the full variety of gangs, sets, and crews characteristic of Oregon cities.”

Out of 30 groups known to police to have been involved in violence from 2019 to 2021, ten of those groups were linked to the greatest amount of homicide cases.

Something tells me the kids in the gun control club probably aren’t aware of that particular study, which indicates that targeted policing and intervention strategies aimed at the relatively small number of prolific offenders is far more likely to make their city a safer place than imposing layers of bureaucratic red-tape on legal gun owners.

Given the state’s leftward tilt, these students may very well end up getting their gun control wish enacted into law, but I don’t think they’re going to be too happy with the results. The measure is certain to face a court challenge if its approved by voters, but even on the off-chance that its major components survives constitutional scrutiny, implementation of the anti-gun initiative is going to have disastrous consequences on public safety throughout the state; emboldening criminals while curtailing the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families from those who would do them harm.

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