Portland Crime Trend Debunks Gun Controllers Arguments

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

When Oregon voters approved Measure 114 by the narrowest of margins in November of 2022, supporters predicted that the referendum banning "large capacity" magazines and imposing a new "permit-to-purchase" system would help drive down the staggering increase in violence in Portland. 


Measure 114's new gun control laws have yet to take effect thanks to a Harney County judge's ruling that the referendum violates the Oregon Constitution's protections for the right to keep and bear arms. As it turns out, however, those new laws weren't necessary for Portland to see a dramatic decline in shootings last year. 

After seeing an all-time high for gun violence at the end of 2022, Portland saw a 22% decrease in overall shootings last year. In late February, Mayor Ted Wheeler attributed this decline to a community-city partnership known as Portland Ceasefire. 

What is Portland Ceasefire? Simply put, it's a strategy that focuses on the most likely offenders, rather than casting a wide net over lawful gun owners in the hopes of entangling a few criminals at the same time. As the city explained when announcing the targeted deterrence initiative:

Once implemented, the Portland Ceasefire model will follow these steps:  

  1. Work with partners to identify people who are at the highest risk of committing or being a victim of gun violence.
  2. Establish direct and respectful communication with these individuals.
  3. Offer these individuals services, opportunities, and support through multiple programs, including the Office of Violence Prevention’s Intensive Case Management Program. These services help individuals move to a safer location, complete a diploma or GED program, find a job, receive training, enroll in mental health treatment, and more. Recent investments doubled the Office of Violence Prevention’s case manager pool from 12 to 24 managers.  
  4. Unite the entire law enforcement community with the singular objective of reducing gun violence by prioritizing individuals who inflict the most harm upon the community and refuse to engage with services.  

If you're a regular reader here at Bearing Arms, you've seen my previous stories about similar Ceasefire initiatives around the country, including my home state of Virginia, where Attorney General Jason Miyares is spearheading Ceasefire efforts in a number of cities. 

I'm a proponent of Ceasefire for several reasons. First, it works. In virtually every city, a small number of prolific offenders are responsible for a huge portion of violent crime, so making those individuals the highest priority for both law enforcement and community intervention efforts makes sense. 

Ceasefire's carrot-and-stick approach offers those individuals the chance to turn their life around, but if they "refuse to engage with services" (as Portland put it) then the next time they're arrested they don't get to take a plea bargain and quickly return to the streets. Their cases are referred to federal prosecutors whenever possible, and they're put behind bars for as long as the law allows. 

The Ceasefire message to its targets is simple: You're going to stop shooting. We'll help you if you let us, but we'll make you if don't. 

There's no need for any new gun control laws to make Ceasefire work. There's no need for "overpolicing", and in fact overall arrests tend to decline along with violent crime because the program targets the most prolific offenders in any given community. 


A 22 percent decline in shootings is nothing to sneeze at, and the fact that Portland saw that major improvement without any of Measure 114's provisions being enforced is another black eye for gun control advocates who insist that the only way to protect the public is to criminalize our Second Amendment rights. Portland didn't need a mag ban, pistol purchase permit, "universal" background checks, or a gun registry to dramatically improve its crime stats. It just needed to focus on the people who are actually committing these crimes.   

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