Sen. Minnis' bill is unnecessary; existing criminal statute is sufficientIn any season of distress, legislators will find a way to enlarge the criminal statutes. By adding new labels and adding offenses that merit certain penalties, our lawmakers weave a web they hope will snare more lawbreakers.
No doubt, State Sen. John Minnis' terrorism bill is well intentioned. This legislation, however, will easily encroach on the civil liberties of Oregonians.
The most persuasive argument against Minnis' bill is the conservative notion that it is unnecessary, that it is excessive and that it strikes at the heart of citizenship. The Oregonian made this point Sunday, noting that law enforcement pursued an environmental activist who torched cars in Eugene by using the arson statute. The Lane County district attorney did not lack for law in which to make his case. The arsonist is serving a sentence of 23 years.
There is an important distinction between legislation that has a tangible positive effect on the lives of Oregonians and legislation that buys a lawmaker headlines or points with the special interest that pays his campaign bills. Over the past three legislative sessions, we have seen too little of the former and too much of the latter.
Oregon district attorneys don't need a new statute to prosecute the violent.