A Multnomah County, Oregon Circuit Court judge’s comments in court earlier this week have ignited a firestorm on social media after a video was released by the Portland Oregonian/OregonLive that revealed him stating he would “take all the guns in America, put them on big barges and go dump them in the ocean.”
Circuit Judge Kenneth Walker’s remarks came as he sentenced Marcell Lee Daniel, Jr., to more than 17 years in prison for the drive-by shooting of another man. The video, which may be viewed here, was posted on YouTube. The story in the Portland newspaper’s online edition has drawn more than 1,900 reader comments.
The judge’s tirade was aimed more at firearms than at the criminal standing before him. According to the newspaper, Daniel “unleashed 30 bullets during an afternoon drive-by shooting” that took the life of 24-year-old Andrew Coggins, Jr. as he strolled along a sidewalk in North Portland in June 2014. Both the convicted killer and victim are African Americans.
His remarks during sentencing were quoted verbatim by Oregon Live.
“If I could I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges and go dump them in the ocean. Nobody would have a gun. Not police, not security, not anybody. We should eliminate all of them. We could save 33,000 people a year if we didn’t have guns in this country.
“Australia after a major shooting rounded up all the guns, and they haven’t had near the death that we do here in this country.”
Judge Walker then said he had seen a statistic on television the previous evening that set the annual murder rate at 11,000 people in this country, while another 20,000 commit suicide with firearms.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2015, which was released Monday, last year saw a spike in homicides to 13,455, of which 9,616 were committed with firearms.
Walker wasn’t finished. He wrapped up by stating that firearms “are a scourge of this country and no one should have one as far as I’m concerned. There’s no defense to guns. There’s just absolutely no reason to have them. But it is a right of people in this country to own and possess them, and I will not say anything to affect that right.”
But Judge Walker already did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do. His remarks could easily become fodder for every gun prohibition lobbying group in the country, and particularly in the Pacific Northwest, which is becoming a hotbed of anti-gun activism.
Two months ago, Washington Ceasefire and Ceasefire Oregon announced plans to push for bans on so-called “assault weapons” in their respective states. That was followed up last month by the announcement from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, that he would also propose a ban on semi-autos in the Evergreen State when the Legislature convenes in January.
There is also another gun control initiative on the Washington ballot Nov. 8. Initiative 1491 is the so-called “emergency protection order” measure that would allow authorities to take someone’s firearms if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Critics argue that the measure violates due process and stigmatizes people with mental health problems who are a threat to nobody.