Politics on minds at Tulsa gun show
After another shooting in California, gun control a topic of discussion
Mass shootings are in the headlines, Democrats are the majority in the House of Representatives, the national conversation around firearms is at fever pitch again, and Tulsa is again host to the largest gun show in the world.
The debate about gun control continues and so does the decades-long tradition of the biannual Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show, set Saturday and Sunday at the River Spirit Expo at Expo Square, with tables enough to cover 6 miles of aisles with thousands and thousands of every type of firearm imaginable.
Here in the
of gun trading, the talk about gun politics is on the level of barbershop chatter. Oklahoma is a well-armed, politically red state but has its own gun debates and growing concerns about multiple mass shootings across the country.
Moms Demand Action, Oklahoma doubled its membership since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2014, from about 2,000 to more than 4,000. Ten of its 32 “Gun Sense Candidates” were elected to state office this month, according to Oklahoma coordinator Christine Jackson of Tulsa.
While only one of its 32 was a Republican, the group is nonpartisan, she said.
“Our focus is on gun violence prevention,” Jackson said. “We can respect the 2nd Amendment and, at the same time, pass laws that will help keep people safe.”
Examples are universal background checks and laws that address ties to firearms-related deaths and domestic violence, she said.
“Guns are part of our history and our landscape, but at the same time, we can have common-sense laws that can help keep people safe,” she said.
Chad Ginn, a pawn shop owner from Tylertown, Mississippi, walked the aisles at Wanenmacher's wearing a weathered, broad-brimmed vintage hat from the 1800s — one with a furry bear-claw hat band. A hand-written sign hanging off his back advertised a Model 1911 pistol for sale: “left-hand ejection, serial number one” — a rarity.
“They don't want us to have guns,” Ginn said. “The next Democrat we have in the White House, this will all be gone. No more gun shows.”
The world is changing, and people from urban areas just don't understand firearms and the way of the world, he said. He uses his two weeks surviving after Hurricane Katrina as an example.
“That's the way I explain it,” he said. “There was no communication, no electricity; when the computers are down, you can't even go to the store to buy a loaf of bread. People from the country know how to survive. People from a city are looking for a handout.”
The country has a people problem, not a gun problem, Ginn said.
“These shootings, it's tragic those things happen, but they show you what they want you to see,” he said of media reports as he reached in his pocket to grab a mobile phone. “Texting and driving,” he said. “Kills more. People die all the time. It's tragic, but it's not the gun.”
Brandon Warner, with Bargain Guns of Purcell, one of the largest vendors at Wanenmacher's with more than 3,000 firearms for sale, said he doesn't hear people worrying about gun legislation like he did during years prior to the election of President Trump.
“I don't think people are all that worried,” EVENT
Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show
The show features more than 4,250 exhibits, plus appearances from celebrity guests Buck Taylor of “Gunsmoke” and Jim West, star of “Alaska Wild West,” as well as the NRA National Firearms Museum display of Presidential Firearms.
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: River Spirit Expo at Expo Square, 4145 E. 21st St.
Admission: $10 adults, $3 kids younger than 12
he said. “The beauty of America is we can choose to enjoy this. To like what we like and dislike what we dislike. Just the fact that we can do this, can come to this show, that's the beauty of America.”
Harry White, 80, known as “Cowboy,” holds down a prime spot at Wanenmacher's after his 30 years at the show — an end-cap table right across from the TwoHand Burger stand and the restrooms.
“It took me 16 years to get to this spot,” said the vendor who looks the part of his name with his full, white beard and long hair beneath his cowboy hat. He owns ranch land near Durant and land near Canton, Texas, to go with it.
“With the Supreme Court the way it is, I think the 2nd Amendment is safe for the next 30 years,” White said. “For the rest of my lifetime for sure,” he added with a wink.
It's not that attempts to change the laws won't be made, but it's wasted effort to target guns, to his way of thinking.
Soft targets will be targeted by people who want to kill others by whatever means they can find, he said.
“You can't legislate You cannot do White said.
Most acknowledge there are issues with violence. What to do about it is a hard conversation when people come at it from different backgrounds and cultures, said Sherman Hickerson of Broken Bow.
He sells rifles at the show. His wife, Brandy, “The Vanilla Lady,” sells Mexican vanilla.
He likes to watch political trends, and he sees gun control inching ever closer.
“Obviously, it's always inching toward total gun control,” Hickerson said. “They take every little nook and cranny. It's like trying to hold back volcanic ash. It's going to keep working at you, you just have to keep working to keep it at bay.”
No one wants to see the violence, but how to find answers is a puzzle, he said.
“What should people be talking about? Honestly, I think you have to start the conversation first to find that answer,” Hickerson said. `All around good girl'
Noel Sparks, a 21-year-old college student, loved going to the Borderline Bar and Grill, so friends and family were not surprised when she posted a photo of herself dancing there Wednesday night.
Her aunt Patricia Sparks of Morristown, Tennessee, told The Associated Press that the family was “in shock.”
She described her niece as an “allaround good girl. She was the kind of girl that if you had friends, you'd want them to marry her.”
Sparks, who was majoring in art at nearby Moorpark College, often went to Borderline with friends and her mom, going there for Halloween and her 21st birthday in August.
`A very, very big personality'
Sean Adler, 48, was a security guard at Borderline who would stay late to ensure people could get home safely, said Debbie Allen, a longtime friend.
The married father of two boys died doing what he was passionate about — protecting people, Allen said.
Daniel Manrique, 33, dedicated his life to service — as a hospital volunteer, U.S. Marine and manager of an organization that helps veterans adjust after leaving the military.
He was a radio operator with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Orange County Register reported.
After the military, Manrique began volunteering with Team Red White and Blue, an organization that works to help veterans avoid isolation by connecting them to their community. He was named a regional program manager last month.
“The best way I can describe him is as a saint. He truly believed in service,” friend and business partner Tim O'Brien told the newspaper. “Dan was the guy you could rely on if you ran out of gas in the middle of the night. He would help you out if something bad happened. He was there, dedicated, loyal.”
An `amazing brother'
Blake Dingman's Facebook page shows a giant truck with its front-end flying up in Energetic and thoughtful
Kristina Morisette worked at the front desk of Borderline and had just bought her first car — a 2017 Jeep Renegade — with the money she had saved, her father said.
Michael Morisette told the Los Angeles Times that his energetic and talkative 20-year-old daughter had just returned from a trip to Austin, Texas, and he hugged her, relieved she was back home safe in Simi Valley.
He said Kristina, the youngest of three children, was a thoughtful friend who always helped others. She enjoyed hiking and drawing and was considering applying for an animal training program in Austin.
“We didn't want her life to end, but we don't want her memories now to end, either,” mother Martha Morisette told the newspaper. “We'll probably always have a hard time dealing with it.”
Darrell Long of Vinita shops at the Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show on Friday at Expo Square.