Pol­i­tics on minds at Tulsa gun show

Af­ter an­other shoot­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, gun con­trol a topic of dis­cus­sion

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Kelly Bos­tian wheel­house

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

In­for­ma­tion: tul­saarmsshow.com

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.”

MIKE SI­MONS/Tulsa World

Dar­rell Long of Vinita shops at the Wa­nen­macher's Tulsa Arms Show on Fri­day at Expo Square.

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