"Portland shooting puts mental health and easy access to handguns at issue
January 28, 8:41 AM
by David Sugerman, Portland Consumer Law & Policy Examiner
The hail of gunfire in downtown Portland over the weekend shocked the city. A group of Rotary International students stood outside a local teen dance club on Saturday night. The barrage initially killed three and wounded seven. It was Portland's deadliest shooting.
The gunman then turned the locally purchased 9 mm handgun on himself and pulled the trigger. He was taken off life support late yesterday.
According to today's news, the young man had a history of mental illness. He had recently lost his job. He spent a lot of time playing violent video games. He had no relationship with his family of origin. He left a will of sorts that gave his meager possessions to his roommate.
I can still see the horrifying vision of Charleton Heston holding a musket aloft in front of the NRA meeting in Denver days after the Columbine massacre. There he was proclaiming that they could have his gun when they pried his cold, dead finger away from it.
I don't particularly care for guns and have a hard time following any argument that they are necessary for anything other than war, law enforcement, hunting and target shooting. Yes, gun rights advocates, you have certain rights. But I doubt the Second Amendment rights are as broad as you may believe.
Even so, I can't imagine that members of the NRA can find anything to laud in Portland's suicide and murder. These young people were as innocent as any. It's maybe more poignant because they represented an optimistic future. Some were American kids who would go abroad to study, and some came from other countries to study here.
I'm numb as a parent of kids who could have been standing in line. I'm numb as an American who wants to welcome students from abroad here and send our kids out into the world. And I'm numb as a human as I walk by the scene just blocks from my office.
As a lawyer, I understand and support the constitution. But as a parent, an American and a human, I have to point out that just because it's constitutional doesn't mean it's wise or good. If you doubt that, and you're a strong Second Amendment advocate, tell me how you feel about the First Amendment's free speech rights that guarantee that include the right to burn the American flag."