Wednesday, January 28, 2009

City City Bang Bang

Last Saturday evening, excited teenagers were standing outside the underage Zone nightclub in Downtown Portland, Oregon waiting to get inside to here the DJ spin some great sounds. Then suddenly bullets sprayed everywhere from an Italian-made semiautomatic hand gun, shooting nine young persons including six foreign exchange students. Two girls, one from Oregon, and another, a foreign exchange student from Peru, were killed in the hail of bullets fired by depressed gunman Erik Ayala, himself a foreign national, who then shot and fatally wounded himself. One girl from Italy, another foreign exchange student has 11 bullet exit wounds and remains in critical condition.

When Ayala purchased this semiautomatic weapon at the 99 Pawn And Guns shop in Milwaukee, Oregon, the owner of the shop excuses the lethal sale by claiming that there was no red flags that the murder weapon was going to be used to commit a horrible crime or signs that Ayala was dangerous. Yet, Ayala was first turned away for not providing proper identification, and only on a second attempt was the lethal weapon sold to him by the gunshop.

This latest gun incident, including a huge uptick in gang shootings, where unemployed angry minority members with little money, no jobs, are opening fire on gang rivals is turning Portland, Oregon into a youth gun violence capital.

So far there have been little new calls for increased gun control laws. but at some breaking point, state legislators, police and city hall will no doubt seek to tighten up some laws to stem this new wave of youth gun violence.

All of this raises some interesting issues here. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a local gun control law in Washington, D.C. as unconstitutional that violated the Second Amendment. And Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law professor voiced some support for the Supreme Court ruling, partly because of the court's constitutional view of the Second Amendment, but also because this ruling came during the presidential campaign and the Obama Campaign didn't want major friction with gun rights advocates or the NRA. Previously, Mr. Obama had been on record as supporting the D.C. hand gun control law.

This week, the Obama Administration voiced support for a new form of states rights on the issue of air pollution control, that will reverse the Bush Administration's form of strong federalism that limited 13 states, including California with congested cities and serious air pollution problems from exceeding federal clean air rules as applied by the EPA. This might provide an interesting clue about the Obama philosophy of the role of the federal government and it's power relation to the states and local governments.

All of these factors raise some interesting questions here. Will the Obama Administration allow some more leeway to states and local governments who want to address serious local issues such as gun violence with tougher local gun control laws? Will the role of the federal government be reduced from that of the Bush Administration that worked to intervene in limiting tougher local rules that it philosophically disagreed with?

Local governments with serious gun violence issues may be more willing to advance some tougher gun laws to keep dangerous persons like Erik Alaya from purchasing mass murder weapons like semiautomatic handguns form gunshops during the Obama years, because like the guide of the new EPA and local pollution rules, some states have serious local concerns about growing gun violence among young people where it is still way too easy for crazy or dangerous persons to purchase mass people killing machines like semiautomatic weapons to create public mayhem. Some Second Amendment advocates and NRA members might not be very pleased. But local and state governments will argue that new tools are needed to stop the gun violence bloodbath.

What do you think about all of this? Comments are very welcome.


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