Readers' Letters
by: JIM CLARK, Jim Petersen, Gresham police officer and gang unit member, takes a gang member to a holding cell at the police station. Some letter writers question whether Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ recent five-point gun control plan will be effective in preventing gang violence.

Mayor Adams is making the intuitive mistake of thinking we can reduce crime by reducing access to firearms (Adams' gun proposal will save lives, Sept. 9).

In his attempt to reduce opportunities for criminals to have access to guns, the unintended effect will be to reduce opportunities for law-abiding citizens to have access to guns to defend themselves and others. The result will be that honest people will follow the law, and will go unarmed.

Dishonest people - the bad guys, the criminals - will not follow the law (just as they don't follow other laws). They will be armed and will be able to more easily harm others, knowing they will go unchallenged.

By the time the police arrive, they will only be able to mop up the spilled blood of the innocent. This blood will be on Adams' hands if his well-intentioned but misguided ideas become reality.

Our family learned this lesson the hard way when my stepfather was gunned down in a store robbery. The thief had just been released early from prison. My stepfather managed the store and he had a rule that employees were not allowed to arm themselves. As a convicted felon carrying a gun, the criminal was breaking a federal law. But that didn't seem to concern him too much, since he broke a number of laws that day, including the ones against robbery and murder.

Looking forward, my hope is that Mayor Adams reconsiders and rescinds his gun control proposals.

Stan Sittser


Gun laws give police excess power

What does it take for Portland city government to understand that there is no such thing as an exclusion zone (Adams' gun plan taking fire from all sides, Sept. 2)? And how will you know who has a criminal conviction involving a handgun unless you stop people and run their names?

Now we get to the meaty part: who to stop.

I'm not a cop, but I am a thinker. This is patently an infringement on our rights to be free from government arbitrarily passing 'laws' for the sole purpose of giving cops the reason they need to justify stopping and searching, harassing, assaulting and arresting people of color, young adults, homeless - and being unrestrained in their power over citizens.

Karen Soesbe

Gainesville, Fla.

Parents need to guide children

Where are the parents of these children during their formative years (City's gun-control idea misses target, Sept. 9)?

At one time they were little. Toddlers are dependent upon adults for their guidance, teaching and eventual transformation into adults. At what point do they become 15-year-old gun-toting murderers? What possible positive impact can police officers and desperate gun control laws have on the absence of parental love and supervision? It has often been stated, but criminals will always have guns. More laws will have no effect.

The root of the problem seems to me to be a dysfunctional family unit. Where is the Albina Ministerial Alliance? Where is the community support for parents? Where is the parenting responsibility?

And Ms. (Penny) Okamoto should spend a weekend in Oakland, Calif. (Adams' gun proposal will save lives, Sept. 9). What a prime example of the success of gun laws.

Doug Stanley

Northwest Portland

Gun policies need to be analyzed

From an analytical policy perspective, some of the causal statements made in (Penny Okamoto's My View) are quite bold in the sense that there are no data supporting the claims (Adams' gun proposal will save lives, Sept. 9).

The claims are too linear, when in fact the relationships are most likely much more complex due to the astounding number of variables at play here. For example, the logic is reminiscent of the conservative argument that by creating harsher prison environments, we will reduce crime through general deterrence. Data in fact show that ratcheting up the severity of prison conditions has (at best) a limited effect and diminishing returns, as well as increased recidivism and prison violence, are likely.

In the case of the statements made in this article, the effects of the policy are limited and, without proper research and implementation strategies in place, likely counterproductive over time.

I support Mayor Sam Adams generally. In support of his effort to govern, however, it is useful to point out the problems associated with his latest policy bundle. The main problem with Mayor Adams' policy bundle is that each element is not clearly linked to easily (if at all) measurable crime control outcomes. Nor are they easily (if at all) linked to one another (from a statistical validity perspective).

Like many conservative crime control policies, this bundle of policies will likely 'widen the criminal justice net' in that it will criminalize unintentional behavior, encourage over policing of minority groups and likely lead to a number of other unintentional and unpleasant outcomes.

From an analytical perspective, each of these policies needs to be more fully developed and proposed on its own merits. Theory, research methods and follow-up evaluation proposals should be teased out from the normative (value-laden) consensus on each policy element.

Robert Swan

Southeast Portland

Parents are key to fighting gangs

While some of this article has merit, I think that mentioning parents almost as an afterthought, and as having the same importance as social workers and community members, is way off the mark. Study after study has shown that children with involved parents are much less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and do better at school (Editorial: No single leader can stop gangs, Aug. 27).

By merely mentioning parents as having equal or less influence on children's behavior that virtual strangers (have), you are disrespecting those who do work very hard to raise their children, as well as letting those who don't off the hook.

Parenting is hard work. And it's the most important job most of us will ever do.

Julie Woelfer

Northeast Portland

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