My view: In Portland, forecast calls for shots fired
All year, our local newspapers and newscasts have highlighted the human toll of living in a heavily armed, violent and nihilistic city. Here is just a sampling of the gun violence that has taken place so far this year: two young teen parents randomly shoot community members; a marine veteran is almost killed when his Uber passenger is ambushed; and a woman running errands gets struck by a random bullet. These horrific events elicit a collective shrug from citizens and leaders. In Portland, the only thing outnumbering the number of homeless humans is the shell cases left behind in these senseless shootings.
On my daily dog walks, I see make-shift memorials honoring gunshot victims and ponder the tragic ridiculousness of the "Do Not Murder" signs scattered on lawns and hanging in storefronts throughout my neighborhood. If we are at the point where not murdering each other constitutes civic engagement, we must equip Portlanders with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate our new violent landscape.
We need a way to help leaders and citizens embrace our lawless reality. We need a Daily Gun Assault Forecast (DGAF). In a city where gun violence is now more predictable than the weather, Portlanders need professionals to track the daily number of shootings and deaths; and to predict future gun violence.
The DGAF would track the number of legal gun purchases, bullets fired, shell casings collected, locations of gun crimes and illegal firearms confiscated. In addition, this new forecasting tool would equip uninformed and unarmed citizens with vital knowledge like distinguishing between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, understanding how caliber impacts gunshot victims and advising what type of body armor we should wear today.
Once implemented, the DGAF would become a mainstay in local newspapers and broadcasts. Since many Portlanders are already afraid to leave their homes, the DGAF would incorporate colorful infographics and maps of gun suicides, homicides, property damage and emergency room admissions to keep the fearful masses entertained and informed.
The DGAF would offer a powerful lens for tracking, predicting and highlighting gun violence. Just like the daily weather forecast shows us mass flooding, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather phenomena, the DGAF would include graphic images and interviews with victims and survivors of other mass gun violence events. The possibilities and insights are endless; we would learn about the number of legal gun buys, track record kill waves, and, who knows, celebrate a rare streak of no gun fatalities.
Since the DGAF would be a predictive science, it would always strive for objectivity. The weather and weather forecast do not discriminate; neither will the DGAF. The DGAF will objectively process raw data, including heroic events when a legal gun owner stops a crime, into a forecast with benevolent indifference to people, politics or pronouns.
While many countries believe that gun violence requires guns, we live in a different climate where gun violence is part of our natural ecology. The professional purveyors of DGAF would never question gun distribution, ownership or production; however, they would have to endure the embarrassment and provide a humorous mea culpa when their forecasts are wrong.
In a city where citizens need signs to remind them that murder is wrong, the DGAF would be an absurd and necessary tool for the remaining citizens who prefer barking over bullets.
Max Margolis lives in Northeast Portland.
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