Oklahoma brandishes its guns

What a Duchebag Article

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Published November 28, 2012

 

 Analysis by William R. Wynn / TULSA, OK

On November 1, Oklahoma joined the growing number of states allowing residents to openly carry firearms, having already permitted the carrying of concealed guns. To many, the only surprise related to the passage of the state’s “open carry” law was not that it happened, but that it took so long. One month on, some Sooner State residents not previously accustomed to seeing a table full of visibly armed diners sitting across from them at their favorite restaurant are questioning whether or not open carry is such a good idea after all.

Less restrictive gun laws is one of those hot-button political issues where both supporters and opponents are in the vocal minority, with supporters arguably being more vocal than opponents. 73% of Americans, according to recent polls, believe that individual gun ownership is a constitutional right, although a majority of Americans do believe in some restrictions. In truth, as was seen in the recent health care debates, most people in this country have malleable opinions regarding gun rights, depending on how and with what specificity the question is asked.
However, America’s proclivity to embrace firearms is not equal across all demographics. Andres Oppenheimer, writing for the Miami Herald, pointed out, “On gun control, most Hispanics — who are among the most impacted by gun violence — want tougher gun control laws to prevent incidents such as the recent mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.” Oppenheimer notes that, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, “a much larger percentage of Latinos than both whites and African Americans favors strict gun control laws.”
Still, this is Oklahoma, the reddest of the red states, where guns are almost as ubiquitous as pickup trucks. When the new law took effect, 142,000 Oklahomans were already licensed to carry concealed weapons. Oklahomans are proud of their wild-west cowboy heritage, and many see the open carry law as a logical extension of cowboy culture. How this heritage relates to some high-power borderline assault weaponry – under the law licensed citizens can carry pistols up to .45 caliber with barrels up to 16 inches long – is debatable.
Proponents of open carry argue that the law makes it safer for law abiding citizens by giving them the ability to preempt possible attacks by showing would-be assailants that any crime they may be considering will come with an awful price.
Not everyone is convinced of this logic, including many in law enforcement. Tulsa Chief of Police Chuck Jordan is among those on record as opposing open carry, and he is far from alone in his concerns. The California Association of Chiefs of Police recently enlisted the aid of Governor Jerry Brown in preventing similar legislation from becoming law in that state.
In a state that ranks 13th in the nation in firearms assaults and 22nd in the number of firearms robberies, opponents believe the new law may wind up putting more guns in the hands of criminals when licensed gun owners are robbed, have their homes burglarized, or have their cars stolen or broken into with guns locked inside. The latter is seen as one of the more likely scenarios, because even those who are legally allowed to carry weapons cannot bring them into government buildings, bars, or any establishment that opts to bar guns from the premises.
“Burglars routinely scope out shopping center parking lots to see who is locking presents or other valuables in their cars, so what’s to stop them doing the same thing with guns?” one critic wondered. It’s still far too early for either side to claim statistical victory, but opponents of an armed Oklahoma will be paying close attention to crime rates and firearms fatalities in the coming months and years.
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