November 18th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Cops and Courts

Adams' Gun Plan Meets With a Mixed Reception at City Hall Hearing



Mayor Sam Adams' plan addressing illegal guns got a mixed reception from the public during a crowded City Hall hearing today. But at least two city commissioners indicated they would support the ordinance when it comes up for a vote next month, providing Adams the majority he needs.

Adams' proposed ordinance would penalize gun owners who endanger children or fail to report stolen guns. It would also set a 7 pm curfew for minors who have broken gun laws, create zones where gun offenders are excluded and set a 30-day jail sentence for gun-law violators who carry a loaded weapon in public.

Representatives from the Police Bureau and the District Attorney's Office said the rules would provide valuable tools to law enforcement. The anti-gun group Ceasefire Oregon also praised the ordinance.

Portland Police Sgt. Dave Hendrie spoke of the "sad faces" of families affected by gang violence. He also described cops' frustration when they write gang members a ticket for gun infractions, then see them on the street later that same night. He welcomed the 30-day minimum jail sentences.

But several gang-outreach workers said the rules would not effectively stop the violence. And civil-rights advocates worried they would open the door to racial profiling and abuses of police power.

Garvin Franklin, a former Crips gang member who now does gang-outreach work with Brothers Reaching Out, expressed concern the rules are narrowly focused on young black men. He said the ordinance would not effectively address gang violence because it doesn't do enough to target gun traffickers.

"The ordinance does not address the root cause: Who is supplying the guns?" Franklin said.

Felicia Williams, a project coordinator with PDX Civil Rights Project, said the rules would disproportionately affect minorities and would remove probable-cause requirements for police.

"I can see how this is going to become a social-justice issue," Williams said.

The ACLU did not testify at the hearing but has written a letter (PDF) to City Hall urging the council to vote against the exclusion zones.

Sgt. Hendrie acknowledged police may contact some innocent people. "I'm sure that is going to happen sometimes," he said. "We try to minimize it."

At least two commissioners expressed support for Adams' proposal.

To critics who said the ordinance is too narrowly focused on guns, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz responded it's only part of a wider strategy by Adams for addressing the gang problem.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard said he opposed the city's attempts to maintain prostitution-free and drug-free zones in the past because they merely shifted the problems to other neighborhoods. But Leonard said he supports the so-called "hot spot" exclusion zones in Adams' proposal because they would be more effective in disrupting gang violence.

"If this stops one of those kids from having a gun that is going to be used on an innocent person," Leonard said, "I'm for passing this."

Adams said the council will take up the proposal again Dec. 1.
 
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