Sunday, January 21, 2007

Swimming Upstream: Challenging the Gun Culture

Oklahoma may not be the center of American Gun Lust, but it's probably close. We Okies love our firearms—and ain't no freakin' Yankee liberals gonna grab our pistols, rifles, shotguns, and other forms of weaponry.

So it takes some journalistic courage for the Tulsa World to publish Philadelphia columnist Karen Heller's anti-gun arguments in today's edition. "Where's the outrage about gun violence?" the headline asks. In response, Heller points out that Americans get worked up over all sorts of problems—alcoholism, cruelty to animals, transfats in foods, gay marriage—but show little concern over the continuing terror of gun violence.

Guns aren't the entire problem, Heller admits. But guns are an efficient form of death.

Heller continues: "Guns allow disturbed people to shoot up Amish schools. And thugs to shoot children in front of city schools. And distraught kids to terrorize suburban schools."

Heller also notes the "hideous number" of people killed in Philadelphia last year: 406. Most of the victims, she adds, were young, poor, and black.

True, Tulsa isn't Philadelphia. But even a casual scan of the headlines in eastern Oklahoma tells a similar tale: lots of young people with guns shooting each other, lots of hard-drinking husbands and boyfriends (and sometimes women) shooting their lovers, even a few school boys packing heat in their backpacks.

So Oklahoma has its own gun violence problem, which is unlikely to change anytime soon. But it's high time we took a hard look at gun violence in Oklahoma and in Tulsa, where too many bad people with guns keep killing too many citizens.


Jeff Shaw said...

First, I don't own a gun, and woudn't because 1. I don't know how to use one, and 2. I have a child in my house. But you are talking about criminals with guns. Neither race or poverty or for that matter, lawful gun ownership owe anyting to the "gun culture" you are describing.

Gun culture and criminality are two different things. If you want to stop senseless killings, education would help; so would banning violent TV and video games.

It is blatently unfair and misplaced to tie lawful gun ownership to crips and bloods shooting each other down in the streets. Its a different issue - completely.

Alternative Tulsa said...

Thanks for your comments. While I might argue a couple of points, I appreciate your sense of moral responsibility. Would that all citizens were as sober and responsible.