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Editorial: Don't bring guns to protests

Editorial: Don't bring guns to protests

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Protester killed in Portland as mayor, Trump trade blame

A man is treated after being shot Saturday in Portland. It wasn’t clear if the fatal shooting late Saturday was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by counterdemonstrators in the city’s downtown. 

Black Lives Matter protests in Portland have spiraled out of control, and a man was killed Saturday night as a result.

Some believe this is the sad but logical conclusion to factors that have created a political tinderbox in Oregon’s largest city. But a homicide investigation might not be the ultimate denouement to this awful chain of events. Unless there’s swift but precise action by authorities, things could get much worse.

And things surely will get worse if people keep bringing firearms to downtown Portland. While we support the Second Amendment, it’s just plain dumb to bring a gun to a protest for a variety of reasons, regardless of the legality.

Besides the Portland shooting, the alleged murder of two people at a BLM protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, should serve as a reminder to leave the firearms at home.

The environment surrounding these protests has become supercharged, and a firearm might instigate someone into an altercation. The wrong person might see your firearm and decide to confront you. Perhaps they’ll have a gun, too.

Scuffles seem more likely to occur in the coming weeks at demonstrations. If you get into a dustup carrying a sidearm, you not only have to worry about keeping your nose unbloodied, you now have to worry about keeping your pistol secure lest it be used against you.

A crowd also isn’t the best place to use a firearm, since there isn’t a clean backdrop. Then add in the fact that most people tend to overestimate their abilities and accuracy in a crisis.

Plus, people with firearms, even those who are highly trained, sometimes make split-second decisions that turn out wrong and have disastrous consequences.

And now for a bit of finger-pointing. There are plenty of people to hold accountable for the mess in Portland, including the mayor, the governor, the president, criminals amid the BLM protesters and criminals amid the ranks of counterprotesters.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has become a liberal media darling — to the dismay of many Portland liberals — because he is taking on President Donald Trump and his tweets. But Wheeler and Gov. Kate Brown deserve blame for their lack of action, allowing anarchy and violence to become nightly occurrences in downtown Portland.

They also deserve scorn for blaming only Patriot Prayer and other right-wing actors for inciting violence. There also are criminals consistently acting out from the left amid the rallies, including anarchists and antifa. The fringe left and fringe right have been battling it out in Portland for years. Both are culpable.

After three months of nightly protests, Brown also released a plan to curb violence that relies on law enforcement partners to help the city with personnel and other resources. The move came off as arrogant, because Brown apparently didn’t discuss the matter with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Gresham Police Department, all of which were named in the plan but have politely declined to assist. Not the greatest look. While the governor deserves credit for her response to COVID-19, she’s absolutely fumbled the Portland protests.

Trump’s response to the debacle has been to dump buckets of white gas on the fire. Some of his supporters drove through downtown Portland on Saturday, license plates blacked out, and shot paintballs and sprayed bear mace at protesters and neutral observers. The president refused to condemn and actually encouraged this lawbreaking activity. He’s also defended the 17-year-old charged with murder in Wisconsin.

We don’t know all of the details in the Portland shooting, but we don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that one of his supporters was killed in the tense aftermath of the caravan.

Again, we’ll support your right to peaceful protest with our dying breath. We don’t condone violence. And violence begets more violence.

It pains us to see this crisis in Portland.

Some of us have lived in the Rose City and still love Stumptown, PDX, Bridge City or whatever nickname you want to call it. Trust us, we’d rather live in the mid-Willamette Valley, where the quality of life is better, but we’re still happy to visit the big city now and then. Portland has its charms despite the rush hour gridlock, the homelessness crisis and other metropolitan problems.

But we hope Portland doesn’t make international news again for all the wrong reasons in the coming days.

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