News & Politics

Oregon Judge to Convicted Murderer: 'If I Could, I Would Take All the Guns in America'

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A Multnomah County, Oregon, judge had some pretty pointed things to say about who he thought was responsible for a murder, with the murderer standing before him awaiting sentencing. This being Oregon, you’ve probably guessed that the judge wasn’t lecturing the murderer himself. That’s right, he blamed the guns for the murder.

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor.

Judge Kenneth Walker doesn’t want you to think he’s anti-gun, though. He’s clearly read the United States Constitution. After all, when he finally finished his rant, he said, “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.”

It’s up to the reader to decide what he meant with that last line after reading his entire rant:

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.

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.

They 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.

Never mind, for the moment, that he’s also condemning law-abiding gun owners who have the right to self-defense when being attacked and in fear for their lives. That’s not even the most outrageous part.

What’s really galling is the circumstances by which our young protagonist found himself standing in front of Judge Walker to hear this diatribe.

This all happened during the sentencing hearing for Marcell Lee Daniel, Jr. Daniel is a gang member who has been implicated in multiple shootings. This particular murder was a drive-by gone wrong, in which he killed an innocent man in broad daylight. That man, Drew Coggins, was never involved in gang activity.

Daniel gave his best attempt at remorse during the sentencing hearing, but it fell a bit short:

“I really do hate you for taking him from me,” Coggins’ mother said during the sentencing hearing. “But I have to find somewhere in my heart to forgive you. Drew was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was really messed up, … taking him from us like that.”

A man who identified himself as Coggins’ older brother stood up and spoke directly to Daniel: “I’d like you to apologize to my mom.”

Daniel replied: “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The apology was met with head shakes from some of Coggins’ family, who wanted Daniel to take direct responsibility for the killing.

One of them uttered aloud what they thought would have been a more appropriate apology: “Sorry for your reckless actions, to kill an innocent person.

Next page: The sentence and video of Judge Walker’s anti-gun rant.

According to the judge, however, it’s the gun that was at fault. Perhaps that’s why he accepted a plea deal for this guy to serve a mere 17 years under a reduced charge of manslaughter, while dismissing the charges in another shooting. This despite the fact that not only did a man die at his hands, but 30 some bullets were sprayed around a residential neighborhood, with one lodging in the wall of the bedroom of an 8-year-old child in a nearby home. In return, Daniel wasn’t required to reveal the name of his driver or his intended target in the gang related shooting.

OregonLive reports that “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.” Curiously, no other biographical information is available about Walker at the Oregon Courts website. His biography at the Multnomah Bar Association website is equally blank. Ballotpedia shows that he was appointed to the court in 2007 by Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, and — as is typical in judicial elections in Oregon — has run for reelection unopposed several times since.

The open question is: if Judge Walker is so disgusted by gun violence and the ongoing gang wars in Portland, how does accepting such a seemingly soft sentence solve the problem? Does Judge Walker really believe that the existence of the guns is what causes gang violence?

Here’s the video of Walker’s rant.