Friday, January 18, 2019

My Son's School Went On Lockdown Twice In A Week

Twice in a week's time, my son's high school went into lockdown because of gun incidents.
Taken from the book "Lucy Practices a Lockdown"


THE FIRST INCIDENT:

As a parent, I found out the same way that most parents do when a gun incident happens at their kid's school:  I got a panicked text from my son:  


There's a lockdown don't come to school it's not a drill I love you

It was 11:00 AM on Friday, 1/11. I texted back that I loved him and to be safe, then immediately stopped what I was doing at work to let my wife know and to consult the news.

What I soon learned was that the incident that precipitated the lockdown had been over for almost a half hour. Unable to get to his phone, my son had spent all that time laying on the floor in his teacher's office, the door barricaded and lights off, with other scared children, some crying, some frantically texting their parents, while they waited to find out what their fate was. 

A particular signal had come over the intercom. It was brief "so it wouldn't alert the shooter," as my son explained. Then, as the teacher barricaded the door, turned off the light, and they all took cover, administrators put his high school, and two other schools next door, into lockdown.

HERE is the news story I first read. It explained that a man had gone to the middle school right next to my son's high school for a "custody dispute," that the man had been shot and killed by officers, and that no students were harmed. According to the official Eugene Police Department release:



"At 10:27 a.m. today, January 11, Eugene Police responded to a custodial dispute involving an adult male at Cascade Middle School, 1525 Echo Hollow Road," Eugene Police said. "As officers were escorting the male from the school, he produced a firearm and a struggle ensued. During the struggle the subject was shot by police and is now deceased. This occurred outside of the school."

The man who was shot was named Charlie Landeros, age 30. The shooting happened right outside the main doors to the middle school. From what I understand, the man's daughter witnessed the whole thing.


I was relieved to know that my son wasn't in danger. And the lockdown soon ended.  Meanwhile, concerned parents had shown up to take their children, having gotten the call about their kids and wondering how they would be traumatized, particularly the children at the middle school, some of whom heard the shots. One 11 year old boy described the fearful moments:



"I was getting out of second period and I was sitting on a bench and I got up to go to my locker to put my binder away to go to third period when I [heard] the announcement … and I ran to the library and went under the computer lab desks," he said. "I was kind of scared because some of the people that were with me also underneath the desk were talking about they actually did hear gunshots and were down where it all started. 
"I wasn't thinking you know, about getting shot. I was just … thinking about my family and … that stuff because my tablet was in my locker and I couldn't text anyone and that kind of scared me a little. 
"I was relieved because when I pulled up my messages there were a couple texts from my mom and she was asking if I was OK," Josiah said. "I'm feeling good safe since I'm finally out of school."

My son told me that when the lockdown was over, and he went into the corridors with the other students, there were "a lot of red faces" from people crying. He had trouble that night, needing some quiet time to reflect and a bit of extra attention, unable to watch shows that involved any tense situations, but otherwise handled it pretty well. But I'm certain there were many children far more disturbed by the event, particularly younger kids.


Thankfully, the schools reacted exactly as they had practiced.  I'm thankful the shooting happened outside the doors of the school, too.


The police haven't issued any further public report yet. Like most schools these days, who unfortunately have to prepare for this situation due to the increase in shootings at schools nationwide, there were cameras at the front door that almost certainly recorded the event.  The family of the shot man have demanded to view them. The Civil Liberties Defense Center, which released a statement and memorium for Landeros, suggested that the shooting was not justified (they refer to it as a "homicide") and suspecting racial bias, calling for a "transparent, unbiased and thorough" investigation. 


But here's the crux of the problem: Landeros apparently showed up to the school with a concealed handgun. It is important to note that, in Oregon, it is not illegal to have a concealed handgun on the grounds of public schools if you have a conceal carry permit. The school board of a district can choose to disallow hidden guns of staff members and faculty, if they wish, but not for visiting parents. I don't know if Landeros had a permit. But this needs to change.  This case is a very good example why it's a bad idea. Landeros showed up to a dispute, likely in an anxious state of mind. I don't know why police were called, or why he was being escorted by police out of the building. Was it because they knew he had a gun? I don't know at this time. But it's a dangerous situation made potentially deadly by the presence of a loaded firearm -- and deadly it was.


Pro-gun nutcases like to spout that school shootings wouldn't happen if only citizens could arm themselves. But it is precisely BECAUSE a citizen was armed that the event happened in the first place.



THE SECOND INCIDENT:

Only three school days later, on Wednesday, 1/16, my son texted me again:


We are having another lockdown there is a suspicious person on campus we are safe in the our classrooms and the police are here to help
With no mention of guns this time, I was less worried. UNTIL I read a news article a few minutes later that stated:
"a report of a person, possibly a student, who might have had a handgun on campus"
My heart sank. Once again, students barricaded themselves in classrooms, this time for almost an hour, as police searched the grounds, with my son's high school on lockdown and three other middle and elementary schools on lockout (where the exterior doors are locked but students are not barricaded and hiding in rooms). A student had seen the person with a handgun "in his waistband" and notified school staff, who then initiated the lockdown. The person with the gun was never found. Was it a student? Was it another adult with dubious intent? Will they come back to the school, armed?


According to a Washington Post study released in December of last year, 4 million children (!) in America had to endure lockdowns in the 2017-2018 school year.  FOUR MILLION!  There was a time when children hid under desks in "duck and cover" drills, afraid of nuclear bombs from far away. But today, the threats are within our own communities.


From the article:

More than 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown in the 2017-2018 school year alone, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by The Washington Post that included a review of 20,000 news stories and data from school districts in 31 of the country’s largest cities. 
The number of students affected eclipsed the populations of Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont combined. But the total figure is likely much higher because many school districts — including in Detroit and Chicago — do not track them and hundreds never make the news, particularly when they happen at urban schools attended primarily by children of color. 
Still, on a typical day last school year, at least 16 campuses locked down, with nine related to gun violence or the threat of it. The Post’s final tally of lockdowns exceeded 6,200.
Jesus. If these horrifying statistics don't alarm us, what will?? School lockdown drills are now at least as common as fire drills. Sadly, our society is so overflowing with guns and violence, it has become necessary. There are even books you can buy for your children that try to lessen the trauma of lockdowns and lockdown drills, like "Lucy Practices a Lockdown" and "The Lockdown Drill."

But look at the cost to our children of all these lockdowns! From that same article:
The sudden order to hunker down can overwhelm students, who have wept and soiled themselves, written farewell messages to family members and wills explaining what should be done with their bicycles and PlayStations. The terror can feel especially acute right after school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., when kids are inundated with details from massacres that have taken the lives of students just like them.
 Kids just like mine. And just like yours.

Year after year, madmen and armed children go into schools and commit murder, suicide, and mass shootings, and still our national leaders have done nothing to change it other than to offer empty condolences.

Sure, we can turn our schools into armed fortresses, and every other public space, but is that really the kind of place we want for our children?  The only solution is to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and to fight the NRA's "guns everywhere" profiteering agenda.

It's time for change, for the sake of our children, to create a new trajectory for our communities.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Music Video: "Shoot You Down" by the Revivalists


HERE is a link to the video, also posted below.

In a Huffington Post article, two of the Revivalists band members discuss the song and how shootings like the ones at Sandy Hook and Parkland inspired them to try to share this beautiful message.





Lyrics:

I’ll always be the stone, not the one who throws it
I’ll always be the road, that’s the path I’ve chosen
Know you’re not alone when your heart is broken
Say, I just wanna know
Yeah, I just wanna know
Can we for once just live with no guns?
And I tell, tell no lies
We’re not born to just die
People say, people say, what goes around comes around
But I won’t, no, I won’t shoot you down
I’ll always be the bridge, not the one who burns it
I’ll always be the kid with open arms deserving
Of all the love you give in a world that’s hurting
Say, we just want to live
Yeah, we just want to live
So can we for once just live with no guns?
And I tell, tell no lie
We’re not born to just die
People say, people say what goes around comes around
But I won’t, no, I won’t shoot you down
Said I won’t, no, I won’t shoot you down
I won’t shoot you down
I won’t shoot you down
So can we for once just live with no guns?
People say, people say what goes around comes around
But I won’t, no I won’t shoot you down
People say, people say what goes around comes around
But I won’t, no I won’t shoot you down
I won’t shoot you down
I won’t shoot you down
I won’t shoot you down
No I won’t
No I won’t
Shoot you down
Songwriters: David Shaw / Dave Richard Bassett
Shoot You Down lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Reporting On So-Called Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances Is Wrong; Threats of Violence From Militias

Here in Oregon, pro-gun extremist militias are pushing some local ballot measures they call "Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances" which would give county sheriffs unprecedented power which are constitutionally reserved for judges, to interpret gun laws themselves and choose whether or not to enforce them based on their own opinions about what the Second Amendment protects.

From Ceasefire Oregon's Executive Director, Penny Okamoto, as cross-posted from the Ceasefire Oregon blog:


On November 2, 2018, Oregon Public Broadcasting published an inaccurate and inflammatory article about militia-backed ballot measures called “Second Amendment Protection” ordinances, or SAPs. These measures are appearing on some county ballots in Oregon. The article was repeated on the November 6, 2018 OPB morning radio broadcast.
Ceasefire Oregon reached out to the article’s author, Jonathan Levinson, and to OPB with the following email. If you wish to express concern or to ask that a correction be published today, please call OPB at 800-241-8123.

No voter should ever be subjected to threats of violence. Publishing these threats could intimidate voters or suppress voter turn out. OPB should have reported this to law enforcement, not given violence a public platform.

Dear Mr. Levinson,

Ceasefire Oregon is deeply concerned about several aspects of your November 2, 2018 article, “Sanctuary Cities For Gun Rights? Oregon Militias Try New Political Tactics.” First is the implied violence from Tom McKirgan, who claims membership in Oregon militias. Mr. McKirgan, a supporter of ballot measures for Sanctuary Cities for Gun Rights, admitted the militias are willing to engage in physical conflict if they do not achieve their goals on November 6. (“And if we have to fight physically to do it we will,” McKirgan said. “It’s just that simple.”)

We believe no voter should ever be subjected to a threat of violence. We question the wisdom of Oregon Public Broadcasting allowing a member of the Oregon militia (or anyone) to be quoted as saying that groups will “fight physically” if a voter does not agree with a supporter of a ballot measure. This statement is particularly concerning because the ballot measures could effectively place militia members or supporters of the militias in control of county law enforcement. As you know from your own October 30 article which featured Mr. McKirgan, he spent seventeen years in law enforcement and is a member of Oregon militias. Yet you chose to include his implied threat conspicuously as the last statement–without any comment or pushback–so readers are left with this thought in their memories.

Violent rhetoric never deserves a platform, especially not in the aftermath of bombing attempts and the brutal shooting massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
In addition, we would like to address the inaccuracies and implied bias in your article. We urge you to address these publicly. We have provided corrections with explanations and citations.
  • Second Amendment Protection (SAP) measures (referred to in your headline as “Sanctuary Cities for Gun Rights”) are not lawful.
    • SAPs clearly attempt to give county sheriffs the ability to amend firearm-related laws. According to Oregon law, ORS 166.170, that power rests with the Oregon legislature.1
    • In July 2018, Grant County Judge W. D. Cramer ruled2 that a Grant County SAP petition violated Oregon’s firearm preemption law (ORS 166.170).
    • SAPs attempt to require county sheriffs to “determine whether any law or regulation pertaining to the right to bear arms or related rights violates the U.S. or Oregon Constitution.” Local officials are not Supreme Court justices and do not have the authority to interpret any part of the US or Oregon Constitutions.
    • Constitutional law expert, Charles Hinkle, was quoted in a 2015 interview3 with “The Huffington Post” about the Coos County SAP.  Mr. Hinkle stated that, under the Coos County SAP, Coos County Sheriff Zanni “would be violating his oath of office by enforcing a county ordinance that is contrary to state or federal law. ‘Of course local officials can’t decide what laws are constitutional. That’s why Kim Davis went to jail,’ Hinkle told the Huffington Post.” Mr. Hinkle’s remarks refer to the inability of sheriffs to act as US Supreme Court Justices.
    • In fact, in your prior article, your cite Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin’s admission that “interpreting the Constitution is not part of his job or something that he’s qualified to do.”
  • The Second Amendment is not an unlimited right.
    • Tom McKirgan stated (and you failed to correct his comment), “If you look at the Second Amendment where it says that it ‘shall not be infringed,’ that’s exactly what it means — our founders meant that.”
    • The late Justice Antonin Scalia’s ruling on the Heller decision clearly stated4,  “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
    • In the same opinion, Justice Scalia continued, “…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
    • Justice Scalia clearly stated that the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right and that laws can be enacted that will prevent firearms from being accessed by people who would be harmful to self or others.
  • SAPs are not protected by the Tenth Amendment.
    • The Supreme Court ruled in Printz v. United States (1997) and New York v. United States (1992) that the Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from commandeering state governments to assist in enforcing federal law.5
    • Enforcement of federal law is the responsibility of federal law enforcement officials. Therefore, state and local police cannot be forced to detain a person merely to question that person’s U.S. citizenship status.
    • The Tenth Amendment does not give Oregon county sheriffs authority to ignore state laws or the laws of the Oregon Constitution.
    • The Oregon Firearm Safety Act (background checks for gun sales), laws prohibiting guns for stalkers, and the law providing for Extreme Risk Protection Orders are Oregon state laws, not federal laws. There is no Constitutional protection (federal or state) extended to county sheriffs to relieve them from their duty to enforce Oregon laws or allowing them to enact an initiative supporting such actions.
  • SAPs have been ruled to be administrative in nature and, therefore, not the proper subjects for the initiative process.
    • SAPs attempt to change who interprets laws; they do not make new laws. Therefore, SAPs are administrative and not the proper subjects of the initiative petition process.
    • Judge W.D. Cramer ruled6 that the Grant County SAP, measure 12-72,  ran afoul of the initiative petition process under the Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 7 which states that petitions can only make new law.
Ceasefire Oregon was disappointed by the bias shown in your statement: “In a state where Democrats in Portland and Salem have used their control over all the major branches of government to push stricter gun laws, giving local officials control over enforcing the laws could gain traction.”
  • People throughout the state voted for Democrats, not just in Portland and Salem.
  • Your statement shows bias against Portland and Salem, and implies that voters in those cities do not deserve the same voice as voters in other parts of Oregon.
  • Democrats have been elected by a majority of the citizens of Oregon. The will of the voters should not be dismissed because the Oregon militias disagree with the outcome of the vote.
  • Your statement is biased against those who support effective gun laws. A vast majority of Oregonians, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, support stronger gun laws. In fact, according to a Benenson Strategy Group poll taken in 2015 during consideration of the Oregon Firearm Safety Act (SB 941), 87% of voters including 83% of gun owners supported background checks for firearm sales. The percentage of gun owners who support background checks has only increased throughout the country since 2015. Background checks for gun sales are now supported by 95% or more of gun owners queried in the 2018 Quinnipiac Poll and the November 2017 Gallup Poll.
  • The gun violence prevention laws passed since 2015 are also popular. According to a March 2018 Quinnipiac poll, 89% of voters support Extreme Risk Protection Order laws (SB 719)  and 91% support prohibiting convicted stalkers from purchasing or possessing firearms (HB 4145).
  • Clearly, voters support strong, effective gun laws and Democratic legislators have been working for years to pass laws that reduce gun violence.
Oregonians need clear and unbiased reporting on this issue. If passed, SAPs will usurp power from the legislative and judicial branches of counties, and leave citizens unsure of the processes of their own government. If a sheriff interprets a law, to whom does a citizen go to enforce a direct violation of that law? Who will have checks on the county sheriff? Will the county sheriff decide to determine the constitutionality of all the cases of the US Supreme Court? Will the sheriff decide to disallow immigration? Abortion? Voting?
The Second Amendment is already well protected by the gun lobbies and the US Supreme Court decisions Heller and McDonald. SAPs are an attempt by militias and the gun lobby to exert power over the executive branch of county and state government. Issues as grave as these deserve accuracy and fairness.


  1. The law is well known to at least one of the backers of SAPs, the Oregon Firearms Federation, who used the firearm preemption law (ORS 166.170) in 2011 in a lawsuit that forced Oregon colleges to allow people with concealed carry handgun licenses to carry loaded, hidden guns onto Oregon University System campuses. Now, that group is deliberately flouting the firearm preemption law.
  2. “The plain reading of measure 12-72 violates this statute [ORS 166.170] and by definition enters into an area that by law is not of county concern.” Grant County Circuit Case No.18CV19251, Judge W.D. Cramer, Jr., letter ruling, July 29, 2018.
  3. “Further [the measure] contains provisions that are not legislative in nature and; therefore, not proper for an initiative by definition.” Grant County Circuit Case No.18CV19251, Judge W.D. Cramer, Jr., letter ruling, July 29, 2018.

UPDATE (11/7/18): Unfortunately, 8 out of the 10 SAP measures passed. They will almost certainly be challenged in court.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sculpture: The Last Lockdown.

Sculpting by Manuel Oliver whose son Joaquin, 17, was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The sculpture is called "The Last Lockdown" and is made by 3D printing. More information HERE.


The figures were created using 3D printers, an intentional reference to the debate over guns potentially being
3D printed. The desks are real school desks.
“We want you to feel unsettled,” the project’s co-creator Sean Leonard said

Image may contain: shoes and indoor

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A comparison of firearm-related death rates in selected Oregon counties

(This is a cross-post from the Ceasefire Oregon blog, here)

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Numbers from 2005 – 2014 about firearm-related deaths in Deschutes, Multnomah, Klamath, and Linn Counties. For comparisons, I highlighted Multnomah County because it has the highest population and is the most urban. I highlighted Klamath because it ranks third (behind Curry and Baker) in firearm-related death rates but Klamath has a larger population for better comparison. (Klamath has 66,000; Baker, 16,000; and Curry 22,000 rounded.) I highlighted Linn because it was comparable in population size to Deschutes.

All rates are per 100,000 people.

Deschutes County:
  • Average yearly death rate from firearms: 12.16 per 100,000
  • Average firearm-suicide rate: 11.20
  • Average firearm-homicide rate: 0.64
  • Population: 163,000 (rounded)

Multnomah County:
  • Average yearly death rate from firearms: 8.88 per 100,000
  • Average firearm-suicide rate: 6.41
  • Average firearm-homicide rate: 2.07
  • Population: 757,000 (rounded)

Klamath County:
  • Average yearly death rate from firearms: 21.60 per 100,000
  • Average firearm-suicide rate: 16.47
  • Average firearm-homicide rate: 4.08 (No, that is not a typo.)
  • Population: 66,000 (rounded)

Linn County:
  • Average yearly death rate from firearms: 10.57 per 100,000
  • Average firearm-suicide rate: 9.01
  • Average firearm-homicide rate: 0.95
  • Population: 118,000 (rounded)

Data from https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2017/12/where_do_oregonians_die_by_gun.html
An additional comparison: Chicago’s firearm-homicide rate is 16.4 per 100,000 (2010-2015). Even Chicago, however, is much lower than that of New Orleans (46.9), Detroit (45.0), or St. Louis (43.8) for the same time period. [Sixty percent of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago were first sold in other states, many with weaker gun laws. A small handful of gun stores, three from Cook Country and one from Gary, Indiana, continue to be responsible for a disproportionate number of crime guns recovered on Chicago’s streets.]  (Source: “Is Chicago Really America’s Most Dangerous City?”)

Further studies are needed to determine if firearm-homicide rates in Jefferson (4.62), Klamath (4.08), Malheur (2.26), Coos (2.22), and Josephine (2.06) Counties could be reduced with immediate access to Level 1 trauma centers. The same question should be asked of firearm-suicide rates. (Approximately 85-90% of firearm-suicide attempts are immediately lethal.)

One must question if providing effective suicide prevention support–including educating people about Extreme Risk Protection Order–and investigating firearm sellers who violate SB 941 by not performing background checks for gun sales, would reduce firearm-related deaths. SB 941 took effect in 2015 and ERPO took effect in 2018. Data could be available next year to determine if SB 941 is effective in reducing firearm-related deaths in counties which enforced the law.

Note: The counties with the highest rates of firearm-related deaths all have or have had* a sheriff who publicly refused to support SB 941 (background checks for almost all firearm sales). (CurryKlamathCoosJosephineDouglas Counties).

*Mr. Skrah (Klamath County) is no longer sheriff after he was found guilty on five counts relating choking and harassment. Skrah was cleared of a charge of strangulation. Skrah stated (without irony), “And if you send me to jail, I don’t know if I can defend myself,” even though he faced jail time for fourth-degree assault. Mr. Gilbertson is no longer sheriff of Josephine County after he was defeated in the last election. Gilbertson, who faced charges of stolen valor, was replaced by Dave Danielwho also states he will ignore Oregon law.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait.... (Open Carry Samaritan)

Jason Erik Washington was on the campus of Portland State University when he witnessed an argument between two men, one of whom used a racial slur. The men began to fight each other.

That's when, armed with his openly-carried handgun and a valid conceal carry permit, he leaped into the fight to try to break it up.


Meanwhile, two armed university police officers were already arriving to do the same thing. Washington continued to try to break up the fighters even as the police were attempting to do so.


A witness took a video of the incident. Here's a screenshot from that video where I highlighted the gun hanging off his hip, at 18 seconds into it:


From an article: 

Video footage shows what appears to be a black object attached to Washington’s right side as he’s seen pulling one man off another. Two PSU police officers can also be seen. 
“The gun slipped out of the holster when he had fallen, and I think he may have tried to retrieve it,” Smith said. “Then they said ‘gun.’” 
That’s when police fired, she said.
Watch the video and judge for yourself. You can hear the police telling him to drop his gun. And, one witness....
....recalled the man reaching for his gun after police told him three or four times not to. 
"They warned him multiple times not to reach for it, but he did," Dietz said. "I don't want the message out there that the cops were trigger-happy." Dietz said employees at the Cheerful Tortoise did everything they could to stop the situation from escalating like it did.  "It's just that people got drunk and stubborn," he added.  "They had to do it," he said of the officers involved. "People think they were overzealous, but they had to do it."
One friend of his, named Joseph, had this to say:
"I saw the video, and there is no way he should have been shot," Joseph said. "I wish he didn't have a gun on him, because this probably wouldn't have happened if he didn't."
According to an article:
Washington was a Navy veteran and an employee with the United States Postal Service since 1998. He worked with the collections unit as a letter carrier at the main office in downtown Portland, where he also served as the union shop steward. 
Washington was married with three kids and one grandchild.
And now those kids, wife, and grandchild have lost him in their lives, because he chose to arm himself, and because those police reacted the way they did.  This is also an example of how being a military veteran doesn't automatically make you more responsible with your guns.

PSU voted to arm its police force in 2015, despite opposition from students.


[this post is part of an ongoing series of people being shot to death despite being armed (and sometimes because they are armed)]
.