Today, The Oregonian newspaper is reporting that Mayor Sam Adams has come up with a number if ideas for helping stem the recent tide of shootings in North Portland. It constantly amazes me (or perhaps it shouldn’t) that his detractors spent the last week or two complaining that he wasn’t doing anything to solve the problem. While they were doing that, he was out in the city talking with, well, just about everyone involved in the situation to see what could be done.

In the meantime, Adams has been, among other things, coming up with a list of five proposed new laws that would attempt to give law enforcement some tools to work with to help keep the situation under control. As reported by The Oregonian, here are the five proposals he made, with my comments below:

1. Would amend city’s curfew law, adding a 9:15 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for minors who have been found by a court to have possessed, bought, used, transferred or transported a firearm unlawfully. (Current code sets a 9:15 p.m. curfew on weeknights for minors under age 14 who have not started high school, increasing it to 10:15 p.m. when there’s no school the next day; and a 10:15 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for children 14 and older, extended to midnight if there’s no school the next day.)

In a way, the city curfew for minors has always seemed so 1950’s, but is a tool that can be used to help get kids off the streets and back where they belong. Despite the whining of the gun lobby, does it really seem so unreasonable that a 16-year-old that been in trouble with the law previously be in the house or with a parent or guardian by 9:15 on a school night? Or on any night? This would be an inconvenience to a few people, but seems like the kind of thing that can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. It amuses me to see the folks advocating for kids to be out all night.

2. Creates new city crime, endangering a child by allowing access to a firearm, and sets a sliding scale of penalties involving jail time and a fine, dependent upon danger to community. An adult would be guilty of the crime if he or she failed to prevent access to a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, to a child without permission, or the permission of a parent or guardian. The penalty increases if the child carries the firearm off the gun owner’s premises. And it reaches the most severe penalty if the child carries the firearm to any school, school-sponsored or school-related event. The penalty levels haven’t been decided. It would not apply if a child obtained a gun through illegal entry to a home, or if the gun was locked away, secured or inoperable, or the child discharged it in self-defense.

Again, it amuses me that the gun activists can be so blind to not permitting any firearm regulation, that they can be in favor of allowing people to give firearms to kids, unsupervised, with no consequences. I have been taught since I was young to lock up the guns, to keep them away from children, and to treat all firearms as if they were loaded. Is it different now? Are we not responsible to do these things? It should be OK now to hand a child a gun, or to allow them to take it, and leave the house with it? Nothing here prevents a parent or other responsible adult from using the guns as they were intended, or allowing them to be used properly, even by children. It does make it a crime to let them take it to school. I don’t really have a problem with that.

3. Creates new city crime: failure to report theft or loss of a firearm. A gun owner would have to report a theft or loss of a firearm within 48 hours of learning of a theft, or misplacement of a gun, and provide its description and serial number to law enforcement. If not, the owner would be subject to a $500 fine. If an owner reported a gun stolen but didn’t provide the serial number, he or she would face a $200 administrative fee.

While I am not violently opposed to having some sort of gun registration system, I do understand that the registration process is not really worth the time and expense that would be necessary to implement it. It does not particularly bother me that we do not have lists of gun owners, although I do sleep a little easier knowing that people need permits to carry concealed firearms and that there is a system in place so that criminals and the mentally ill are not buying them (as much as possible, anyway). However, it does not seem unreasonable that if someone has their gun stolen, that they report that fact to the police in a timely manner. You can bet that if someone is going to steal a gun, they are not doing it so they can display it on their mantel for its beauty. They may be stealing it to resell, but it is more likely than not that the gun is being stolen so that it can be used to commit a crime. Heck, we report cars that are stolen voluntarily, if only so that we are not stuck with the parking tickets that the thief might run up. It doesn’t seem the least bit unreasonable to report the theft of a gun. At the very least, it would put law enforcement on notice that the owner isn’t the criminal if the gun is used for a nefarious purpose.

4. Increases penalty for existing city crime: possession of a loaded firearm in a public place. The courts would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days for someone convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle, including a transit vehicle. Right now, the court has discretion to sentence a violator for up to six months in prison and face a fine up to $500, but it’s rarely done. This would not affect those with concealed-handgun licenses.

Yes, probably not as effective an idea as it seems, but notably, it does not affect anyone who is carrying a firearm legally. Really, if I have a good reason for carrying a loaded weapon on my lap in the car or on a bus, why can’t I get a concealed weapons permit to do so? Maybe there is room to improve this before it becomes law, but on the face, it is a good idea. But the gun activists are right in one way. This one, by itself, won’t make the difference.

5. Designates illegal firearms use hot spots, valid for a three-year period, and gives the city the authority to exclude gun offenders who are on probation or under juvenile authority from entering a public area or park within the designated hot-spot locations, unless they live in the area, go to school, obtain social services there or travel through it. The hot spots would be areas where gun crimes or illegal discharges are significantly higher than that for other similar-size geographic locations.

OK, even I had to laugh at this one. The city experimented with “drug-free zones” and “prostitution-free zones” and everyone knew that these were the best places to buy illegal drugs or hire a streetwalker. I had a problem with the concept of exclusion zones, simply because it did seem too restrictive to ban someone from a certain part of town for 30 to 90 days. While it seems like this might be a good idea on the face of it, even if the goal is to exclude the gang member from access to their gang turf, I just don’t think this one should be the law. If a legal restraining order is called for, by all means get one. Use it. But this should be a case-by-case situation decided on by a judge, not an administrative process.

In the end, it is clear that Mayor Sam Adams is on the right track for trying to clean up some of the gang violence in Portland. It is clear that there is still much work to be done. This is a good start toward that goal.

It also amuses me that the some of the same people who complain that Adams is not doing anything to solve the city’s problems, while he is at work on solutions to solve them, are among the first in line to decry him when he presents his proposed solutions. If someone can do a better job, let them step forward and make some suggestions. (Just remember that “do nothing” or “lets stop and study the problem some more” are not practical suggestions.)