Shootings in Portland, Oregon doubled last year compared to 2019, with nearly 900 incidents reported. In the first nine weeks of this year, nearly 200 shootings were reported, which puts the city on pace for an even higher total than last year. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Democrats in charge of the city certainly haven’t helped, with officials slashing the police department budget by $16-million and axing a task force designed to target the illegal use of guns in the city. Though the Portland Police Bureau has set up a new “Enhanced Community Safety Team” that’s reactive in nature; responding quickly to shootings after they’ve taken place, the violence has continued at unprecedented rates.
While many officials seem more interested in cracking on law enforcement instead of violent criminals, one community activist and former gang member in Portland, Oregon is trying a different approach to stopping the violence. Lionel Irving and his organization Love Is Stronger, Inc. held what he called a “No Bullet Weekend” this past Saturday and Sunday to try to turn lives around.
“Through No bullet weekend we create safe spaces for guys like me, gang vets who have made it out of the swamp, to come back for the young guys. To show you can make a poor choice and you can stand back up and be a respectable citizen and community member. As a citizen now, it is my responsibility to keep my neighborhood safe,” said Irving.
During No Bullet Weekend, Irving helped hand out 100 meals from Gourmet Bros food truck.
By handing out food, he was able to connect with at least one hundred people and share his message and goals to keep kids safe and keep gun violence from rising.
Unfortunately, this past weekend wasn’t bullet-free for Portlandians. At least one person was shot in the city on Saturday, and police are concerned that as the temperatures rise so too will the violence, which typically increases during the spring and summer even in the best of circumstances.
While community activists like Irving are trying to reach out to those most likely to offend, Portland’s mayor is now calling to re-fund the police, seeking a one-time $2-million cash infusion into the police department and “outreach programs.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler requested the funding during his State of the City address March 12. The address was also three days after Wheeler condemned one of the latest killings in the city, the death of a 42-year-old man in a city park during broad-daylight.
“This shooting was brazen and horrific,” Wheeler wrote in a tweet March 9.
…In a press conference, Wheeler said the money would help fund a patrol team that would be a different operation than the gun-violence reduction team that was disbanded last June.
“What’s going to be different this time, and Chief Lovell said it very clearly, they believe we need a prevention and intervention function, but he also made it clear that he would not stand that up unless the community supported it, unless there was community oversight, and unless there was the transparent collection and dissemination of data,” Wheeler said, according to KATU.
I can’t imagine that the average resident feels confident that Wheeler’s recommendations are going to do the trick, particularly with riots and acts of organized violence continuing on a regular basis in the city. If officials can’t get a handle on the mobs attacking businesses, they’re not likely to do any better targeting the gangs and drug dealers that are fueling the rise in shootings. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that with violence on the increase, more residents are choosing to arm themselves in self-defense, as Willamette Week reported back in January.
Data from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which fields applications for concealed handgun licenses in the county, shows 609 handgun owners have applied for such licenses so far in 2021. That’s double the number from all of last January, when 303 people applied for CHLs through the sheriff’s office.
A person does not need a CHL to own a firearm. But under Oregon law, such a license permits a person to carry a concealed handgun. Statewide, firearm background checks, which tend to reflect actual gun sales in Oregon, have increased 64% in January so far compared to this time last year, according to Oregon State Police spokesman Capt. Timothy Fox.
Ironically, though the city’s leaders are uniformly opposed to folks exercising their Second Amendment rights, their inability or unwillingness to effectively fight violent crime is actually creating new gun owners and concealed carry holders. Until the city can get the increasing lawlessness under control, expect the surge in Second Amendment support to continue.
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