Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bike-friendly state senator wounded by accidental gunshot

Posted by on July 30th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

fixie bill in Salem

Atkinson testifying in support of the Fixed Gear
Brake bill during a hearing in Salem in March 2007.
His shirt reads, “Ride a fixed gear, go to jail.”
(Photo © J. Maus)

Oregon state Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) — an avid cyclist and a regular supporter of bike-related legislation in Salem — was accidently shot in the knee yesterday evening.

According to a story in the Medford Mail-Tribune, the accident happened when Atkinson began working on a friend’s bike:

“…Atkinson was working on a friend’s bicycle and had to remove a small bag attached to the bike. He dropped the bag and a .38-caliber derringer inside the bag fired. The bullet hit his knee.”

No word yet on why his friend packs a pistol in his pannier.

Atkinson used to be a serious racer.
(Photo courtesy Jason Atkinson)

Atkinson has supported several bike bills in the Oregon legislature over the years. He was a key ally in the effort to revise Oregon’s bicycle equipment law to allow fixed gear bicycles to not have a hand brake, he has supported an idea to allow bicycles to treat some stops signs as yields, and he was the driving political force behind an effort to use state Lottery funds to build velodromes.

Pundits say Atkinson is a “likely candidate” for governor in 2010 (he ran unsuccessfully in 2006) and we’re likely to be hearing more from him as the 2009 legislative session takes shape.

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  • Ergo July 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Why does the pistol carrying community let their members get away with things like this?

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  • Paul Souders July 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm


    That was a cheap shot

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  • Jeremy E July 30, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Bwahaha… \”cheap shot\”… so punny.

    In all seriousness, I hope he is back on the bike soon.

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  • bahueh July 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    the bike? I hope he\’s back to walking soon..without a limp. forget the bike..

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  • poser July 30, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    this doesn\’t surprise me one bit. you see these crazy hipsters, running around trying to look cool with no locks on their guns – it\’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed. they make the entire gun-toting community look bad; and should all be forced to get licensed.

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  • Morgan July 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Gordy! I swear I didn\’t know it was loaded!

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  • Grimm July 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Maybe the solution is more bullet proof panniers. 😉

    But on a serious note, why would you carry a gun on one unless you happened to becoming back from the firing range or something. In which case, why keep it loaded in the pannier? Seems odd to me. Mainly considering how much effort it would take to retrieve the gun if a situation where it was needed arose.

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  • Zaphod July 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I will withhold my opinion on gun laws and the like. But leaving a loaded weapon on a bike as a surprise for someone working on it seems a bit negligent. Surely this friend feels terrible about the incident. I hope for a speedy and complete recovery.

    I will hope/dream that the dialog that ensues is productive and not the stale arguments on both sides.

    One surprise to me is that a gun can discharge by dropping. I assumed that they were designed better than that.

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  • Joe July 30, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Who carries a gun in their bike bag other than me?

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  • Paul July 30, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Why do Republicans shoot their friends so often?

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  • Toby July 30, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I don\’t really care why he has the gun, or why he thinks he needs it, what I want to know is, why the Hell didn\’t the \”friend\” tell him he had a loaded gun on the bike.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    What a sad tradgedy. The only safe place for a loaded pistol is in the holster of a responsible adult (though it is probably tough to conceal wearing spandex). I wish him a fast and speedy recovery, knee injuries are not fun (actually they are down right depressing).

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  • Graham July 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm


    One surprise to me is that a gun can discharge by dropping. I assumed that they were designed better than that.

    I\’m not much in the know about guns, but the article says it was a Derringer, which I think of as one of those tiny, one- or two-shot things:


    I could see a gun like that landing on its hammer, and popping a shot off.

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  • K\'Tesh July 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Hope he heals fast and completly

    God Bless

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  • Matt Picio July 30, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Zaphod (#8) – it depends on the gun, and a host of other factors that vary wildly. Some guns are nearly impossible to set off by dropping them, and very few will fire unless they\’re already cocked.

    Ian (#12) – well, the only \”safe\” place is locked in a gun cabinet, unloaded and with the barrel removed. But there are levels of risk. From the sound of it, his friend had that pistol ready to fire – which is fairly common for those who carry.

    I hope the senator heals quickly, and doesn\’t have any loss of mobility. I also hope his friend had a concealed carry permit, and I hope the county revokes it. He should have infomed the senator about the gun, or removed the bag containing the gun from the bike before they started working on it. (or safed and unloaded the pistol)

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  • Matt Picio July 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Let me clarify – \”fairly common for those who carry\” – according to sources I\’ve talked to. YMMV.

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  • bahueh July 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    with \”friends\” like that…hopefully he\’s got a good lawyer.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Of course it would be loaded… why would you carry it then? I agree that this guy was completely irresponsible and I don\’t even know the full story.

    Matt Picio,

    I said loaded gun… if the barrel is off the gun it wouldn\’t be loaded.

    Have a good day.

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  • Mike M July 30, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    When I read the article I thought the gun was somewhere in a small bag under the saddle. Is pannier actually mentioned anywhere? I could see someone carrying a small pistol in a seat bag. It would be easily accessible.

    Of course I cringe about storing a loaded weapon that close to my groin, but then again I would never carry a weapon in the first place. Imagine if you hit a hard bump on the bike, that could almost be enough to make a hair triggered weapon like this go off…

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    WOW Ian, how very compassioniate of you. Hardly the setiments echo\’d in your post on the Karl Hugo story. I suppose you feel its ok to be compassioniate because this gentlman has health insurance.

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  • miguelaron July 30, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    what, with the war going on, soldiers should be armed.

    i don\’t know how to post a link.

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  • James July 30, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    This reminds me of some advice from my NRA-member father a few years ago, when I lived in SoCal. I used to take a lot of long-distance off-road rides into fairly remote territory, sometimes by myself, and he advised that I should bring my pistol (I had a small semi-auto .38 at the time).

    I can\’t say I thought it was awful advice, given that you can encounter some pretty rough folks in the backwoods of Meth Country, USA. But even though this design of gun was perfectly suited to safely accompany an off-road excursion, I couldn\’t fathom it. If it\’s the kind of activity where I need to bring a gun to protect myself, I guess that\’s not my idea of fun. (Which may be one reason why I no longer own that or any other firearm.)

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  • woogie July 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Ever run into a cougar or a mountain lion while riding?

    I have, in the Medford area, while riding just outside of town.

    That doesn\’t excuse the poor storage and handling of the weapon after the ride was over.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I feel for anyone that has an injury no matter the cause. Sorry if any comments would lead you to think otherwise.

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  • J July 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    The obvious solution is to require full kevlar vests and kevlar knee pads for bicycle mechanics. Make it an amendment to the helmet law.

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  • Deborah July 30, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    \”Ever run into a cougar or a mountain lion while riding?\” aren\’t they one and the same?

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  • Paul July 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    The update on OPB suggests this might be more serious of an injury than first reported. He is listed in critical and won\’t be released for at least a week.

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  • Joe Adamski July 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I will admit the idea of packing heat has its merits. After a road rager tried and succeeded in intimidating me, the idea had a certain appeal. Never did follow through on it, but like I said, the idea DID have its merits.

    The sad part of all of this, is the typical anti gun arguement: Often the victim of handguns are neither the ownner or a criminal, the victim is often an innocent.

    If you asked the friend whose bike was being worked on, he/she probably had a good reason ( in their mind) for the pistol being there.
    Did the good Senator know the pistol was there? Before he got kneecapped?

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  • Ray Ogilvie July 30, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Cougar, Mountain Lion, Puma and a Painter all at once.

    I think we need a bigger gun.

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  • djasonpenney July 30, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    People don\’t kill people; bicycles kill people.

    (Sorry, couldn\’t resist.)

    I hope Mr. Atkinson\’s quality of life (including cycling miles) aren\’t affected by this accident. Get well soon!

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  • Ryan July 30, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Sounds like improper storage or a gun unsuitable for carrying… too bad for both parties. Hope they both recover.

    If guns weren\’t such a taboo subject — especially among the bike groups — he might have had the opportunity to get good education about how (and how NOT) to carry, and maybe made a safer choice too (gimme a safe, reliable firearm, plz).

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  • Matthew Denton July 30, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I admit that I can think of many advantages to carrying a gun on a bicycle. But I can also think of many disadvantages, in particular, my tendency to crash every so often, and how having a gun go off when that happened just might not be helpful to the situation…

    But generally I take the bags off my bike before I work on it. Not so much because I\’m worried about guns in them, but because the bags are heavy and get in the way.

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  • BURR July 30, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    sorry he got hurt, but maybe if motorists weren\’t sure if the cyclist whose right of way they were about to violate had a loaded weapon on them or not, they\’d be a bit more careful.

    I once read a bit in the paper about a guy in AZ who actually cycled with a pistol strapped on his hip in full view of all the motorists, and he claimed it was a remarkable deterrent to bad behavior.

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  • Lisa July 30, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Killing cougars..O.K., that\’s why I don\’t like the ideas behind carrying a gun around. BTW, I lived in the mountains just south of Grants Pass for years with cougars and bears as regular neighbors. We respected them and they respected us. No problems. (The Oregonian has a story today on what happens to an ecosystem when you remove predators like wolves, etc…it\’s not pretty.)

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  • GreggB July 31, 2008 at 12:32 am

    @BURR …a highly-visible camera works well for me instead. 🙂

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  • my ballcap is backwards... July 31, 2008 at 2:19 am

    dude, you don\’t need to go all the way to medford to look for cougars. me and my bros were in the pearl the other day, coug\’s were everywhere! and they were soooo hot! man, bend is also cougar heaven, they are totally on the prowl!

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  • Matt Picio July 31, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Ian (#18) – I never said otherwise, I merely said it (the loaded gun) wouldn\’t be safe – just less dangerous. No firearm is safe unless it is unloaded. (and even then, all firearms should be treated as if they *were* loaded) Which doesn\’t mean one shouldn\’t carry a firearm – like I said, there are levels of risk. Thanks for the well-wish, you have a good day too.

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  • Myra July 31, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Why would anyone assume that people who want to ignore stop signs, stop lights, who fight against helmet laws, who split lanes between large vehicles and who drive at night without lights would know anything about gun safety?

    Wow what a no brainer. or in this case a no knee\’er

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  • Zaphod July 31, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Making jokes about this injury is cold.

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  • Ramona Heights July 31, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Maybe I need to adjust my tin foil hat, but something about this story doesn\’t ring true for me.

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  • Aka July 31, 2008 at 11:14 am

    thats sucks. i guess he wont be biking for a while.

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  • Russ July 31, 2008 at 11:31 am

    This is a good example of why bicyclists should carry semi-automatics with decent safety locks instead of revolvers. My guess is he didn\’t have a holster with a safety strap over the hammer.

    Bike Portland readers: Sell your .38 specials and buy a Glock 32!

    I hope Atkinson didn\’t take that round square to the knee, or he\’s in for a very long rehab at best.

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  • BURR July 31, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Making jokes about this injury is cold.

    you got that right, but Myra\’s a hater with no sense of perspective, so it\’s par for the course for her.

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  • Keith July 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    See…see what happens ! We ran off Vance
    who didn\’t hate cyclist, just the cyclist religion. Since nature abhors a vacuum, Myra is sucked out the bung of the lunatic

    I miss Vance

    I thought that a derringer by it\’s very nature is not a revolver?? If it\’s anything like my Saturday Night Special made by Davis Industries in Chino, it\’s a cheap piece of crap thats dangerous even when it\’s unloaded.

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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Any update an this guys injuries?

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  • Russ July 31, 2008 at 4:07 pm


    I just skimmed the post and assumed revolver when I skimmed past .38.

    …and of course decided to make a glib post forthwith!

    The derringer just makes it weirder. Makes me wonder if Atkinson\’s friend rides a bicycle because he\’s a fan of technology of the 19th century. I can just see him on a high wheel bike waving a Schofield revolver above his head in downtown Medford.

    I\’m sure there\’s a long story involved, which who knows – might have some kind of story arc that doesn\’t sound as nutty as what little has been reported, but what fun is that?

    I can say though, just the thought of what happened makes my knees hurt.

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  • bahueh July 31, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I think Myra forgot her medication again..her mind seems to be running in circles.

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  • El Biciclero July 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Wait a minute–you mean a Republican can be bike-friendly? That\’s mind-blowing. I guess it\’s not just the radical left-wingers who can think straight sometimes…

    I hope he is able to eventually get back in the saddle.

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  • MyraFreePortland July 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Myra (#38),

    Why would you assume people care what you have to spew?

    Oh yeah, you\’re trolling for hits…

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  • Russ July 31, 2008 at 10:45 pm


    Interesting story and some good news.

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  • josh m August 5, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    the derringer is commonly either a single or double barrel pistol. Each barrel only holds one round, therefore it is always loaded, and carrying it unloaded is rather pointless, but is a pour choice for a firearm to carry.
    Personally when I carry it\’s usually a compact semi-auto, like my Glock19.

    I remember reading a story a few years back of a guy and his girlfriend getting jumped in SE while riding. The kids started attacking them until the guy pulled out his pistol and scared them off.
    I know I often felt more safe riding while carrying, but often didn\’t since I was usually going somewhere I wouldn\’t want one with me.

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  • Bjorn August 5, 2008 at 9:20 pm