Not that it’s going to stop Rep. Paul Evans from pushing for more restrictions on responsible gun owners. The Democratic lawmaker says that even though voters in his district may not be demanding new gun control laws, he’s going to do his best to put them in place anyway.
Evans’ constituents aren’t necessarily eager for more gun laws. Some people are grumpy, he said, and want young people and gun owners to be more responsible. But, he said, people aren’t self-governing, so voters recognize the need for intervention.
“Because we can’t do everything, that doesn’t mean we can’t do some things,” Evans said. “And the something we’re going to do is bring rationality to gun ownership.”
Grumpy? How about furious over once again being the target of lawmakers and anti-gun activists while violent criminals have driven homicides to record-setting levels in Portland. Tell me what good these proposals would do in terms of actually combatting the violent activity on Portland streets?
House Bill 2005 would ban two types of ghost guns, 3-D printed firearms made of non-metal material and handgun kits that don’t meet the legal definition of a firearm and require minimal assembly. Neither type has a serial number and are therefore untraceable by law enforcement. The 3-D printed type pose a unique security concern because they are also undetectable by metal detectors and most X-Ray machines.
Legislators are also considering bills that would allow cities and counties to prohibit firearms in government buildings and increase the minimum age to own a firearm to 21. People over 18 would still be able to buy certain kinds of rifles and shotguns commonly used for hunting. There is also an exception for military and law enforcement. Federal law bans the sale of handguns to people under 21.
House Bill 2007 builds on a law passed in 2021 allowing local school districts to ban firearms on campus. That law also banned firearms in the State Capitol and the Portland International Airport terminal. Currently, local governments are prohibited from limiting firearms in their buildings.
These bills are either ineffective, unconstitutional, unworkable, or all of the above. Criminals don’t care about “gun-free” zones, and a sign that reads “No Guns Allowed” isn’t going to stop someone with murder on their mind from walking in regardless. Banning gun sales to adults under the age of 21 is constitutionally suspect, despite what the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has to say about the issue. And it’s unclear how HB 2005 would work in practice, especially with a federal judge in Texas granting an injunction against the ATF’s almost identical rules as it applies to several companies and their customers. There’s a very good chance that the ATF rules are going to be undone by the judiciary, and if/when that happens it would be impossible to use the NICS system to run a background check on someone who’s not buying a firearm itself, but the incomplete parts necessary to build one.
While Democrats like Evans are taking aim at the fundamental rights of responsible citizens, he and others are ignoring what’s actually taking place in Portland. Despite the record number of homicides in the city in 2021 and 2022, things are trending in a surprising direction at the moment, and without any new gun control laws in place. As KPTV in Portland reported on Monday:
New crime data from the Portland Police Bureau shows the number of deadly shootings has dropped by 56% compared to this time last year. Overall shootings have also dropped by 34% in Portland too. Community-based organizations that have spent a lot of time over the last year to try and prevent gun violence said this data shows what their doing is working. Lionel Irving, CEO of Love is Stronger G.V., said the community should take this as a small win because there is still a lot of work to do.
“It makes me optimistic that we’re headed in the right way but it also makes me cautious that I don’t think we got the problem solved,” Irving said.
He credits much of his organization’s success over the last few months to the millions of dollars given out to non-profits through Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Safe Summer PDX program.
“We had a lot of great momentum and that’s what drove these numbers,” Irving said. “So we need to see this same kind of energy, where it’s all-inclusive, all hands on deck, and everybody is collaborating with each other.”
Another explanation? A shift in tactics by the Portland Police Bureau to better identify those individuals who are actually responsible for the lion’s share of violent crimes in the city rather than casting a wide net over the general public in hopes of ensnaring a criminal or two. The PPB recently detailed its success in using a data-driven approach to combatting car thefts, which the department says is often ” a precursor to other, usually more violent crimes.”
After their first five missions over a four-month period, members conducting Stolen Vehicle Operations recognized the room for improvement. To address this, they began collecting and analyzing characteristics of stolen vehicles in the community. This included both vehicles that were found to be stolen and those that were not. Officers’ meticulous efforts led to the collection of multiple data points that could then be analyzed. The analysis provided officers patterns, that, in and of themselves, or in combination with others, greatly increased the chance that a moving vehicle was more likely to be stolen based on data collected.
In order to ensure these missions were informed and data driven, PPB SVO leadership then approached Dr. Jeffrey W. Tyner, Ph.D., a scientist and professor at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine. Dr. Tyner and his team agreed to review both the data and methodology. As a result of this continuing collaboration, Dr. Tyner and his team of scientists have provided valuable peer review and ideas used to improve the process.
Evidence-based practices that have been refined through the unique collaboration with OHSU have dramatically increased the team’s success. In the non-evidence-based practice missions conducted by the SVO team, only one in every 31 vehicles stopped was an occupied stolen (1:31), and the arrest ratio was one in every six (1:6), with a gun being found in one out of every 144 vehicles being stopped (1:144). In the missions conducted after the evidence-based practices were applied, the number of stops decreased, but the likelihood of finding a stolen vehicle being actively driven greatly increased. Now, one in every six vehicles stopped by the team is a stolen (1:6), someone is arrested once in every three stops (1:3), and a gun is found in one out of every twenty-six tops (1:26).
“Less stops, better outcomes,” as the Stolen Vehicle Operations described it. It’s clear that Oregon doesn’t need more gun control laws to address its crime woes. Better tactics, better strategies, and most importantly, better politicians would go a long way towards making the state a safer place while respecting the right to keep and bear arms in self-defense. If Evans’ constituents aren’t eager for more gun laws, I’d say it’s time for them to vote him out and replace him with someone who will actually listen to what they have to say.