PORTLAND, Ore. — More deadly violence, that could be prevented. That sums up what Multnomah County’s top prosecutor names as an issue that’s making us less safe.
“We’ve really seen not only here in Portland, but nationally an increase in gun violence,” says District Attorney Mike Schmidt, about the last three years.
“I think It’s one of these issues that can feed itself and feed on itself as people feel less safe. They sometimes might feel like what they need is a gun. And as more and more guns are on our streets, and we don’t have adequate gun safety legislation in place, we’re seeing more and more guns show up in different spaces. Altercations that might have started not necessarily as a violent one. But once you put a gun in place, especially if intoxication or other things are present, it can end up deadly.”
He says by the time his office gets involved, it’s too late to prevent a tragedy.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can do for gun violence. Obviously, as the district attorney, we have a role, but it’s a very reactive role. We show up once the violence is done or once somebody has fired a weapon. And, there’s a role for accountability and holding people in our community accountable that would do that. But if we’re really going to make a difference, we know we have to get upstream of gun violence.”
Schmidt says a better approach would be to invest in prevention, especially in community programs such as sports that teach young people how to deal with conflict.
Schmidt spoke at the group Portland For All’s Policy Talks event, focusing on how to create a safer community.