CCRKBA calls for Oregon judge to resign after anti-gun remarks
Friday, September 30th, 2016
BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today called on Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Walker to step down from the bench after launching an anti-gun-rights tirade in court earlier this week in which he stated that firearms “are a scourge of this country and no one should have one as far as I’m concerned.”
“Judge Walker is entitled to his opinion,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “but he should not use the bench as a bully pulpit to attack a constitutionally-protected civil right. Just because he had to sentence a criminal to prison for brutally murdering another man in 2014 is no excuse for this kind of rhetoric.”
Judge Walker’s comments came as he sentenced Marcell Lee Daniel Jr. to 17 ½ years in prison for the June 30, 2014 slaying of 24-year-old Andrew Coggins, Jr. on a North Portland sidewalk. Gottlieb said Walker’s remarks seemed to blame the gun, not the man who committed the crime.
The judge declared that if he could, he would “take all the guns in America, put them on big barges and go dump them in the ocean.” And he did not stop there, according to the Portland Oregonian and a YouTube video. He also said, “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 that’s exactly what he did do,” Gottlieb countered. “Judge Walker used his courtroom to campaign against a civil right he is sworn to uphold and defend as an officer of the court. His comments could easily be used by Oregon anti-gunners who are promising to push for a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ next year.
“Judge Walker is absolutely wrong about firearms,” he stated. “There are many good reasons for honest citizens to have guns, including self-defense against criminals like the man he just sent to prison. Indeed, law-abiding citizens don’t need any reason at all to exercise a civil right. Whether Judge Walker likes it or not, keeping and bearing arms is a right protected by the constitutions of both the State of Oregon and the United States.
“At the very least,” Gottlieb concluded, “Judge Walker should apologize for his remarks. If he cannot do that, he should step down. Such an extremist viewpoint is offensive and has no place on the bench.”
'Judge' blames guns, not murderer
As the killer stood before him, Judge Kenneth Walker couldn't stay silent.
"If I could I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges and go dump them in the ocean," the judge told the defendant. "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."
Marcell Lee Daniel Jr. had unleashed 30 bullets during an afternoon drive-by shooting of an innocent man on a North Portland sidewalk. The man, Andrew Coggins Jr., 24, died.
The judge kept going.
"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," he said.
The judge was referring to tighter gun controls in Australia in response to a 1996 mass shooting by a lone gunman who killed 35. Australia responded by buying back or seizing a million existing firearms and making it more difficult to buy new ones. News reports marking the 20th anniversary of gun reforms state there have been no mass shootings -- defined as 5 or more people -- since.
"I just saw last night a statistic that 11,000 people in America are murdered each year and another 20,000 commit suicide with guns," Walker said, referring to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"They are a scourge of this country and no one should have one as far as I'm concerned," he said. "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."
Walker, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge for nearly 10 years and a criminal defense attorney before that for 25 years, sentenced Daniel to 17 1/2 years in prison.
The dead man's mother, Connie Holmes, said she appreciated the judge's comments.
She and about a dozen others who were related to her son or knew him had filled the courtroom Monday, wearing T-shirts with Coggins' photo screen-printed on them. They gasped and sobbed as they spoke of their loss.
The shooting happened about 2:45 p.m. on June 30, 2014, as Coggins was standing in a grassy median in front of the New Columbia planned community at 4900 N. Fessenden St. talking to a friend next to a broken down Grand Marquis Mercury.
An unidentified driver pulled up and Daniel, a passenger, fired the barrage of 9 mm bullets. Two struck Coggins, including a fatal bullet that entered his back and traveled to his chest. Another man suffered a grazing wound.
No one else was hit, but bullets lodged in the nearby home of an 8-year-old boy. It was a warm summer day and children played in the streets and at McCoy Park, less than a block away.
Police at the time said the shooting was gang-related. But Daniel's defense attorney, Ernest Warren Jr., said it wasn't. Coggins' family said he wasn't involved in gangs.
Warren said Daniel and Coggins didn't know each other -- and Coggins wasn't the intended target.
Prosecutor Amanda Nadell declined to elaborate on Daniel's motive or target.