One Week in April, Four Toddlers Shot and Killed Themselves


Zai Deshields, 4, at her home in Stone Mountain, Ga., this week. Last week she pulled a handgun out of a backpack at her grandmother’s home in Arlington, Tex., and shot her uncle in the leg. Credit Melissa Golden for The New York Times

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sha’Quille Kornegay, 2 years old, was buried in a pink coffin, her favorite doll by her side and a tiara strategically placed to hide the self-inflicted gunshot wound to her forehead.

She had been napping in bed with her father, Courtenay Block, late last month when she discovered the 9-millimeter handgun he often kept under his pillow in his Kansas City, Mo., home. It was equipped with a laser sight that lit up like the red lights on her cousins’ sneakers. Mr. Block told the police he woke to see Sha’Quille by his bed, bleeding and crying, the gun at her feet. A bullet had pierced her skull.

In a country with more than 30,000 annual gun deaths, the smallest fingers on the trigger belong to children like Sha’Quille.

During a single week in April, four toddlers — Holston, Kiyan, Za’veon and Sha’Quille — shot and killed themselves, and a mother driving through Milwaukee was killed after her 2-year-old apparently picked up a gun that had slid out from under the driver’s seat. It was a brutal stretch, even by the standards of researchers who track these shootings.

These are shooters who need help tying their shoelaces, too young sometimes to even say the word “gun,” killed by their own curiosity.

They accidentally fire a parent’s pistol while playing cops and robbers, while riding in a shopping cart, after finding it in the pocket of the coat their father forgot to wear to work. The gun that killed Sha’Quille last Thursday was pointing up, as if being inspected, when it fired.


Sha’Quille Kornegay shot herself with a 9-millimeter handgun she found while staying at her father’s house.CreditHaven Parrish, Jr.

They are the most maddening gun deaths in America. Last year, at least 30 people were killed in accidental shootings in which the shooter was 5 or younger, according to Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group that tracks these shootings, largely through news reports.

With shootings by preschoolers happening at a pace of about two per week, some of the victims were the youngsters’ parents or siblings, but in many cases the children ended up taking their own lives.

“You can’t call this a tragic accident,” said Jean Peters Baker, the prosecutor of Jackson County, Mo., who is overseeing the criminal case in Sha’Quille’s death. Her office charged Mr. Block, 24, with second-degree murder and child endangerment. “These are really preventable, and we’re not willing to prevent them.”

Gun control advocates say these deaths illustrate lethal gaps in gun safety laws. Some states require locked storage of guns or trigger locks to be sold with handguns. Others leave safety decisions largely to gun owners.

Twenty-seven states have laws that hold adults responsible for letting children have unsupervised access to guns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, though experts say such measures have, at best, a small effect on reducing gun deaths. Massachusetts is the only state that requires gun owners to store their guns in a locked place, though it has not stopped youngsters there from accidentally killing themselves or other children.

Gun rights groups have long opposed these kinds of laws. They argue that trigger locks can fail, that mandatory storage can put a gun out of reach in an emergency, and that such measures infringe on Second Amendment rights.


Sha’Quille’s mother, Montorre Kornegay, said she did not believe that the girl’s father deserved to face a murder charge.CreditDaniel Brenner for The New York Times

“It’s clearly a tragedy, but it’s not something that’s widespread,” said Larry Pratt, a spokesman and former executive director of Gun Owners of America. “To base public policy on occasional mishaps would be a grave mistake.”

In Kansas City, Sha’Quille’s family is trying to come to grips with her death and the murder charge facing Mr. Block. In interviews, several relatives said they did not believe he deserved to be convicted of felony murder, but some questioned his judgment in leaving a loaded gun out while he slept as well as his actions after he discovered that his daughter was grievously wounded.

According to court records, Mr. Block told the police that immediately after the shooting, he went to the bathroom, wrapped the gun in a shirt and put it into a vent in the floor. He then ran outside carrying his dying daughter and yelled for a neighbor to call for help. He was also charged with evidence tampering.

Sha’Quille’s mother, Montorre Kornegay, said that she had recently separated from Mr. Block after more than five years together, but that they remained close. She said he loved the girl, whose first word was “Daddy.” When he called Ms. Kornegay from jail, he told her he was sorry and talked about how much he missed Sha’Quille.

The girl was just 2, but wanted to be older, telling people she was already 5. She would run through the house, playing her own private game of peekaboo, relatives said. In a cacophony of squeaky children at home, relatives could always distinguish Sha’Quille’s low, raspier voice. One day, she’ll be a singer, they told one another.

“What happened was wrong,” Ms. Kornegay said. She said that she did not think Mr. Block deserved to face a murder charge, but that he had behaved irresponsibly. “Why didn’t you stay up and watch her?”

Parents, police officers and neighbors from Georgia to California are asking similar painful questions this week. Here are some of their stories.

‘Stay With Me’

In 2015, there were at least 278 unintentional shootings at the hands of young children and teenagers, according to Everytown’s database. During the week in April when Sha’Quille and the other children died, there were at least five other accidental shootings by children and teenagers. Alysee Defee, 13, was shot in the armpit with a 20-gauge shotgun she had used for turkey hunting in Floyd County, Ind. Zai Deshields, 4, pulled a handgun out of a backpack at her grandmother’s home in Arlington, Tex., and shot her uncle in the leg.

A child who accidentally pulls the trigger is most likely to be 3 years old, the statistics show.

Holston Cole was 3, a boy crackling with energy who would wake before dawn, his pastor said. He loved singing “Jesus Loves Me” and bouncing inside the inflatable castle in his family’s front yard in Dallas, Ga.

About 7 a.m. on April 26, he found a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol in his father’s backpack, according to investigators. The gun fired, and Holston’s panicked father, David, called 911. Even before a dispatcher could speak, Mr. Cole wailed “No, no!” into the phone, according to a redacted recording.

Mr. Cole pleaded for his 3-year-old son to hold on until the ambulance could arrive: “Stay with me, Holston,” he can be heard saying on a 911 tape, his voice full of desperation. “Can you hear me? Daddy loves you. Holston. Holston, please. Please.”

Holston was pronounced dead that morning.

The local authorities have been weighing what can be a difficult decision for prosecutors and the police after these shootings: Whether to charge a stricken parent or family member with a crime. While laws vary among states, experts said decisions about prosecution hinge on the specific details and circumstances of each shooting. What may be criminal neglect in one child’s death may be legally seen as a tragic mistake in another.


Holston Cole, 3, shot himself with a semiautomatic pistol found in his father’s backpack, according to investigators. Creditvia Brent Moxey

Officials with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office have suggested that they expect Mr. Cole to face, at most, a charge of reckless conduct.

“Anything that we do, criminally speaking, is not going to hold a candle to the pain that this family feels,” said Sgt. Ashley Henson, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Sergeant Henson said investigators had sensed early on that the shooting was accidental. “You want to be able to protect your family and take care of your family, but on the same hand, you’ve got to be safe with your weapons,” he said.

Some gun control groups have urged states and district attorneys to prosecute such cases more aggressively, saying that, grief aside, people need to be held responsible for what are easily preventable deaths.

Brent Moxey, the pastor who officiated at Holston’s funeral, said the boy’s father was already haunted. “I think he runs the scenario over and over and over in his mind.” Mr. Moxey said the family — which did not respond to a message left at their home seeking comment — was still asking for privacy.

About 1,000 mourners attended Holston’s funeral on April 30, remembering a boy who loved superheroes and would sometimes wrestle cardboard boxes. The day he died, he spent time alongside his mother, Haley, as she read the Bible, playing with the highlighter pen she used to note passages, Mr. Moxey said.

“This little boy loved to tinker and to play, and he loved to get into things,” Mr. Moxey said, describing the very impulse that probably led to Holston’s death. “He loved to figure out how stuff works.”

A Ringing Purse

In Indianapolis, Kanisha Shelton would stay protectively near her 2-year-old son, Kiyan, watchful of the stray dogs known to roam through the neighborhood.

But on the night of April 20, Ms. Shelton stepped away from the boy, leaving him in the kitchen while she was upstairs. She had placed her purse out of his reach on the kitchen counter, but when her phone started ringing, the boy apparently pushed a chair close to the counter, climbed onto it and reached for the purse, according to an account from a cousin, John Pearson. There was also a .380-caliber Bersa pistol in it.

Just after 9 p.m., Ms. Shelton heard a loud bang and rushed downstairs. There, in the kitchen, she found Kiyan lying on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was rushed to a local children’s hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Ms. Shelton’s mother, who answered her daughter’s cellphone, said the family did not want to speak about the death. No criminal charges have been filed.

The police in Indianapolis said such scenes were becoming more common. “The mother was obviously very shaken up,” Capt. Richard Riddle said. Indeed, on Sunday night, another child, 10 years old, died in what the police say appears to have been another accidental shooting.

A 2013 investigation by The New York Times of children killed with firearms found that accidental shootings like these were being vastly undercounted by official tabulations, and were occurring about twice as often as records said.


A detective in the garage at the home where 2-year-old Kiyan Shelton shot and killed himself last month in Indianapolis. CreditMichael Anthony Adams/The Indianapolis Star

Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an emergency physician and a researcher at the University of California, Davis, who studies the public health effects of gun violence, said that nearly everyone — from toddlers to adults — can fail to accurately distinguish toy guns from real guns, loaded guns from unloaded ones.

“That doesn’t stop them from playing with it,” he said.

Mr. Pearson said he sympathized with Ms. Shelton and thought of Kiyan’s death as a tragic accident. “It was up on the counter, so I do think she thought she put the gun away, out of the baby’s reach,” Mr. Pearson said. “She’s going to be in a living hell.”

Essie Jones, who lives across the street, said Ms. Shelton had recently taught Kiyan to ride a small bicycle with training wheels, guiding him on the bike in the driveway. “They’d be up in the yard playing,” she said. “He was very happy.”

In a condolence book online, Dianna Mitchell-Wright, who identified herself as “Auntie,” wrote of her anguish over losing the boy she had nicknamed “My Main Man.”

“All I have are memories,” she said, “and your pictures in my cellphone.”

Anguished Goodbyes

The coffin that held Za’veon was no bigger than a piece of carry-on luggage, and it was so light that two pallbearers easily carried it through the packed St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Bermuda, La.

His full name was Za’veon Amari Williams, but to his family in Natchitoches, the 3-year-old was known as Baby Zee. On April 22, he found a pistol and shot himself in the head, according to Detective John Greely of the Natchitoches Police Department. When paramedics arrived, they found the mother cradling the boy and crying that he was not breathing, according to KSLA News 12.


Sha’Quille’s grave in Kansas City. CreditDaniel Brenner for The New York Times

The police arrested a companion of the mother, Alverious Demars, 22, on charges of negligent homicide and obstruction of justice. Detective Greely said that the police believed that the pistol belonged to Mr. Demars, and that he hid it after the toddler shot himself. The police have not found the weapon.

“As a responsible adult it’s his obligation to secure that — to make sure a child does not get ahold of it,” Detective Greely said, explaining why Mr. Demars had been arrested.

The family declined to speak, but in a Facebook post, the boy’s mother, Destiny Williams, wrote that she had not been able to sleep and was a “useless sad waste.” “I can’t take life,” she wrote. “Why is it so cruel and unrelenting and unforgiving.”

The funerals for these children were filled with a similar anguish.

At the funeral for Baby Zee, the wails and screams grew so loud during a final moment of goodbye that ushers closed the church doors to give the family privacy. In Georgia, Holston’s father tearfully read a letter that reflected on how the family used to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” At the Kansas City funeral for Sha’Quille, family members crumpled as they looked into the coffin, shaking with tears or kissing her.

The day after Sha’Quille was buried, her maternal grandmother, Pamala Kornegay, reflected on the girl who was missing from the cluster of grandchildren who sat coloring on her living room floor. Ms. Kornegay said she was not angry with Sha’Quille’s father.

“We’re just upset,” she said. “It was careless. It could have been prevented.” So senseless, she said, because Mr. Block had loved his daughter so dearly.

“He would take a bullet for her,” she said.

Missouri State Rep Files Bill to Put Gun Sales Under Exact Same Restrictions as Abortions

Anna Merlan Filed to: MISSOURI12/03/15 5:10pm


Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman is deeply concerned about Mthe state’s gun violence, and figures perhaps it might help matters to make guns a little harder to buy. Luckily, she’s got a perfect model right in front of her: Missouri’s abortion restrictions, some of the most onerous in the country.

As St. Louis magazine reports, Newman has pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would subject gun buyers to the exact same restrictions currently faced by people seeking abortions.

You can read the full text of House Bill 1397 here; it sweetly proposes that gun buyers have a 72-hour waiting period imposed upon them, and have to “confer and discuss with a licensed physician” and risk factors that might arise “from the proposed firearm purchase:”

Prior to any firearm purchase in this state, a prospective firearm purchaser shall, at least seventy-two hours prior to the initial request to purchase a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer located at least one hundred twenty miles from such purchaser’s legal residence, confer and discuss with a licensed physician the indicators and contraindicators and risk factors, including any physical, psychological, or situational factors, that may arise with the proposed firearm purchase. Such physician shall then evaluate the prospective firearm purchaser for such indicators and contraindicators and risk factors and determine if such firearm purchase would increase such purchaser’s risk of experiencing an adverse physical, emotional, or other health reaction.

Gun buyers would also have to watch a 30-minute video “on fatal firearm injuries” and verify in writing that he or she viewed the entire video “in the presence of a licensed firearm dealer.” There’s more:

Verify in writing by a licensed physician that the purchaser has toured an emergency trauma center in the nearest qualified urban hospital on a weekend between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when gun violence victims are present.

Within seventy-two hours of a firearm purchase, the prospective firearm purchaser shall meet with at least two families who have been victims of violence involving a firearm and two local faith leaders who have officiated, within the past year, a funeral of a victim of violence involving a firearm who was under the age of eighteen

Missouri passed a 72-hour waiting period on abortions in 2014, among the longest in the country. The Missouri House attempted to pass a bill last year that would have required women to watch an “explanatory video” on abortions, which died in committee.

Newman knows, of course, that the bill is doomed to failure. As St. Louis points out, she proposed a similar measure last year that would have restricted vasectomies, making them only legal to protect a man from serious injury or death. And while useless gestures should generally be avoided in politics, this one, at least, makes a point, as Newman told the magazine in a statement: “Since restrictive policies regarding a constitutionally protected medical procedure are the GOP’s legislative priority each year, it makes sense that their same restrictions apply to those who may commit gun violence. Our city mayors and law enforcement drastically need help in saving lives.”

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Newport News Times Letter to the Editor by Monica Kirk, November 20, 2015

Recently, the Central Coast Sportsmen’s Defense took issue with a plan that, by applying the values and ideals held by responsible gun owners, could lead to a 50 percent reduction of gun violence in just five years (“Open Letter to President Obama”, Oct. 14 edition).   Our plan to reduce gun violence can be reduced to three elements:  

Higher standards for gun ownership;  

Enhanced accountability of federally licensed firearm dealers (FFL); and  

Implementation of technology to improve the safety standards for guns and gun ownership.  

Although it is impossible to ignore America’s school shootings that now average one per week (“School Shootings in America” — 2015), I agree that “mass shootings in public places should not be the main focus of the gun debate” because they account for, on average, less than 1 percent of the homicide rate (“Analysis of Mass Shootings” — 2015).  

Successful self-defense by armed citizens is a myth. In 2012, there were 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a fi rearm and 8,342 criminal homicides. Guns were used in 32 criminal homicides for every justifiable homicide (“Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use” — 2015).  

Murder rates have not dropped with an increase in concealed carry permits. According a 2015 Texas A&M study of 500 counties in four states, “concealed carry handgun laws have ‘zero effect’ on crime rates (“Concealed Handgun Licensing and Crime in Four States, Journal of Criminology,” — 2015). The same study suggests that the increase in concealed carry licenses was due to the number of firearm retailers in the country as “generating their own demand through advertising.”  

Instead of seeking common ground to solve gun violence, Sportsmen Defense cautions readers “The left wants so badly to disarm America to ensure a compliant population.”  

I do not believe our government is tyrannical, unruly, or about to take my gun.  

Monica Kirk,  

Steering Committee, Central Coast Ceasefire  

Depoe Bay, Oregon


Let’s send Governor Brown a bill! Click here to send your Representative a message and encourage them to vote in favor of SB 941. This lifesaving legislation will end the loophole that lets criminals buy and sell guns on the internet. Once the House passes the bill it will land on Governor Browns desk.

Help us get over the finish line. We are close to passing SB 941. This lifesaving legislation will require a background check for every transfer of a gun in Oregon, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, sporting, and emergency circumstances. Contact your Representative today to encourage them to vote yes. Click here to use our handy tool and send your Representative a message in minutes.

It’s time to close the loopholes in the background check system. Click here to send a message to your Representative and encourage them to vote yes.

Ceasefire Oregon Executive Director to Discuss “Common Ground” at Central Oregon Coast NOW Meeting

Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation work to reduce gun violence.   Penny Okamoto, Ceasefire Oregon Executive Director, will be speaking at the Tuesday, January 27, 2015 meeting of the Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).  The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 pm at the Central Lincoln PUD Meeting Room, 2129 North Coast Highway, Newport.  The public is invited to join us for a discussion about the current state of gun laws and gun-related deaths in Oregon, and to share ideas to reduce gun violence.

Penny Okamoto has been working to reduce gun violence since she joined the Million Mom March in 2000. She joined the Ceasefire Oregon Board of Directors in 2000 and has been the Executive Director since 2010. Penny’s work with Ceasefire Oregon includes policy decision and research.  Okamoto holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and has worked in the past as a research biologist.

Central Oregon Coast NOW is a member, along with Ceasefire Oregon, of the Oregon Alliance to Prevent Gun Violence.  While gun violence prevention groups are often urged to find common ground with the gun lobby, the truth is that these groups already have a great deal of common ground with the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, which many of our members are.  Among the areas where there is much agreement are background checks for all gun sales, safe storage and better mental health options.  These are some of the simple yet effective steps to reduce gun violence that will be discussed at the January 27 meeting.

Donations of feminine hygiene products will be collected at the meeting to donate to My Sisters Place domestic violence shelter.

138 guns, including assault rifle and sawed-off shotguns, collected by Newport police, officials say

By Luke Hammill | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Two sawed-off shotguns and an assault rifle were among the 138 firearms the Newport Police Department said it collected Saturday as part of a “no questions asked” gun turn-in.

Central Coast Cease Fire, an organization that helped organize the event, provided gift cards to those turning in unwanted firearms, officials said.

gunsThe Newport Police Department collected 138 guns as part of a “no questions asked” turn-in on Saturday, officials said.

The guns submitted on Saturday included 18 shotguns, 18 rifles, 35 semi-automatic pistols and 67 revolvers, authorities said. The department also collected 95 high-capacity magazines and accepted ammunition, according to police.

“I am impressed with the amount of firearms turned into the police department, and consider this project a success,” Chief Mark Miranda said in a statement. “We will look at doing another project such as this next year.”

Police plan on checking the guns’ serial numbers against state and federal databases, officials said, and any stolen firearms will be sent to the police agency in which they were reported stolen.

There were two or three guns that are “of museum quality,” and the department will ask accredited museums if they are interested in the weapons, police said.

All other weapons will be boxed and sent to the burn plant in Brooks for destruction, according to the department.

Police said any unwanted firearms or ammunition can be turned in at the department year-round.

— Luke Hammill

Contact the reporter on this story:
503-294-4029; @lucashammill

Three ways to increase gun safety in the home

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF/FILE A 25-state national bus tour stopped in Boston in August 2013 for a rally against gun violence.

A 25-state national bus tour stopped in Boston in August 2013 for a rally against gun violence.

By Michael A. Cohen DECEMBER 09 , 2 014
It’s the kind of story that seemingly could only happen in America — only days before
Thanksgiving a 3yearold
boy in Tulsa finds a loaded gun in his home. He points it at
his mother who is changing her daughter’s diaper. He pulls the trigger and kills her.
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But what is perhaps most surreal and unimaginable about this tragedy is that it
happened again – two weeks later, again in Oklahoma, another 3year
old boy. This
time the victim was a 23yearold
man who was shot as family members handled a
loaded rifle. The child grabbed at the gun, and it went off. Two lives ended; countless
others shattered.
These deaths were described as accidents, but of course they are anything but. They are
the direct result of America’s toxic gun culture and of a nation inured to the point of
inaction in ending the steady drumbeat of senseless death.
Just a few months ago, the president appointed an Ebola czar in the wake of three
Americans being diagnosed with the disease. Before that, he sent American warplanes
and military trainers to Iraq to rollback ISIS even though the group posed no direct
threat to the United States. There was broad popular support for his actions
Yet, since then more Americans have been killed on US soil by 3yearolds
with guns
than have died from Ebola or ISIS. Every day there resides among Americans a clear
and present danger — millions of guns, many purchased for home protection that are
having the exact opposite effect.
We know that having a gun in one’s home doesn’t actually make that home safer.
Instead it increases, significantly, the possibility that someone who resides there will die
as the result of a firearm. So here’s a suggestion: Rather than spend billions more on
combating terrorists that pose less of a threat to Americans than falling TVs, how about
invest the money and attention to gun safety?
No, that doesn’t mean taking away people’s guns. But here are three ideas. First,
increase the criminal penalties to a felony for allowing a child to get access to a firearm.
Leaving a loaded gun where a child can put their hands on it is not an accident — it’s the
result of negligence. Make it a serious crime. There is good evidence that these child
access prevention laws can reduce unintentional deaths.
Second, require gun safes in all homes where a child under age 18 is present. Have the
federal government subsidize such safe purchases, if necessary. Doesn’t matter how it
gets done, just that it happens.
Third, begin a nationwide public education campaign about the dangers of keeping a
loaded gun at home where children are present. We’re all familiar with the powerful TV
ads that depict the medical consequences of smoking — ones that ran last year are
estimated to have persuaded 100,000 smokers to give up the habit. If you buy a pack of
cigarettes, it says on the box how dangerous it is to smoke. Why should guns be any
different? How about a public health warning any time someone buys a gun that its
presence in one’s home dramatically increases the risk of a child (or adult) being killed?
How about public service announcements that make clear the importance of securing
weapons where children are present?
Reminding Americans that guns and curious children make for a potentially deadly mix
isn’t infringing on people’s freedom or their right to bear arms. Indeed, there is no good
reason for the NRA to oppose any of these measures — unless it wants to try to convince
us that the only thing between a bad 3yearold
with a gun is a good 3yearold
with a
Michael A. Cohen is a fellow at the Century Foundation. His column appears regularly
in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.

Gun Safety Proclamation Splits Depoe Bay City Council

Gun Safety Proclamation Splits Depoe Bay City Council

From left, Depoe Bay City Councilor Zeke Olsen, Mayor A.J. Mattila and Councilor Robert Gambino. The three council members voted against a gun safety proclamation this week. Mattila said it violated the First and Second amendments. (Photo by Larry Coonrod)

By Larry Coonrod

DEPOE BAY-After unanimously approving $5,000 in unrequested funds for the Neighbors for Kids organization, the Depoe Bay City Council on Tuesday narrowly passed a proclamation encouraging adults to keep guns away from children’s reach.

Representatives from the Asking Saves Kids (ASK) campaign presented the proclamation declaring June 21 as National ASK Day in Depoe Bay. The campaign aims to prevent the accidental shooting of children by other children.

“Basically the ask campaign simply suggests that caretakers of children make a point of when kids are playing away from home to ask whether the guns where they are playing are locked up,” campaign supporter Monica Kirk told the council.

Mayor A.J. Mattila declared that after having consulted an attorney he could not support the proclamation.

“I personally feel I would be in violation of the Second Amendment rights and also First Amendment infringement,” he said. “My vote is going to have to be no.”

State Rep. David Gomberg in a June 1 letter asked the mayor to support the proclamation. Gomberg said the campaign has partnered with over 400 grassroots organizations and the American Academy of Pediatrics to successfully inspire 19 million households to ask if there are unsecured guns where there children play.

Councilor Robert Gambino said as a gun owner that he was quite vocal about asking neighbors where his three children played if guns were locked up.

“Every one of us should be doing this all the time…it’s responsible gun ownership,” he said. “The only problem I have is that in general these things tend to have affiliation with anti-gun sentiment and I’m against that.”

Gambino was referring to the Cease Fire Oregon organization.

The Cease Fire Oregon Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization that advocates gun safety through education and gun turn in days. It is affiliated with Cease Fire Oregon, which works to reduce gun violence by lobbying for legislation such as universal background checks for all firearm purchases, including those between private parties.

“The ASK Campaign is not affiliated with Cease Fire except to the extent that Cease Fire bought our brochures,” Kirk said. None of the information about ASK speaks to anything other than responsible gun ownership.

Councilor Brent Berry, in a rare break from voting in lockstep with Olsen, Mattila and Gambino voiced his support for the proclamation.

“I believe everybody who has a right has a responsibility,” Berry said. “I think everybody should own a gun but everybody should be responsible for that weapon, too. I’ve asked my neighbors where my kids play.”

In a 4-3 vote, the council approved the proclamation with councilors Berry, Dorinda Goddard, Skip Hoitink and Barbara Leff casting the yes votes.

Mattila said despite being opposed to National ASK Day proclamation he would sign it on behalf of the city.

In other business the council:
Passed a $1.7 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which begins July 1.
Appropriated $4,999 from the budget as a charitable contribution to Neighbors for Kids. The nonprofit had not requested funding, but the council provided the money at the insistence of Mayor Mattila. A vote on the contribution passed 4-3, with Goddard, Leff and Hoitink opposed.
Approved a contract for services of up to $4,999 with the Depoe Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion.
Agreed to move forward with a request for proposal related to rehabilitating the city’s abandoned harbor fish plant. Living Pacific Seafood has expressed interest in starting a processing operation in the plant.
Decided to delay moving forward with implementing marijuana rules until after the city receives federal funding for harbor dredging. Some councilors expressed concern that because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal narcotic, allowing a dispensary could jeopardize money budgeted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the harbor this year.

Contact Reporter Larry Coonrod by emailing