Why We Still Have Guns: Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa

The other day something awful happened. The Umpqua Shootings. I won’t insult you by making you read a recap, the internet is 20% recaps of the events right now. And I will say, it’s tragic. It is, it’s awful. But you don’t need me to tell you that. If you’re actually taking the time to care what some random person is saying than you probably have enough capacity to care where you feel for those people.

Afterwards, Obama made an address. An incredibly and understandably pissed Obama. He reminded us we’re one of the only countries where this sort of thing happens with such regularity. He reminded us that we need to stop catering to the NRA and that we need to stop cancelling all these gun control bills that never get to see the light of day.

And all I could think to myself is, “why”? Why don’t we stop this? Then Stacy Boylan spoke…

Now, before I go into this, understand, I feel for all the victims both dead and alive. But what Stacy said made me really understand one of the reasons we still have guns. Stacy was there when the shooting happened and, luckily, managed to play possum well enough to survive. But she did witness someone getting shot. Before the person was shot, the shooter (who’s name I’m purposely “Voldemorting”) mentioned that the victim was going to see “God in just a second”. Now, this is one of the most cliche tough guys things to say. You see it in movies. “Meet your maker” and all that. But Stacy said the shooter stated this because he was “singling out Christians.”

Two camps opened from this. There’s the first camp that would realize that he was shooting wild and, beyond that, Christians don’t look different from anyone else beyond the fact that their bookbag might be one tiny book larger.

But it’s the second camp that worries me. The camp who’s ears perked up and heard this and uttered four of the most dangerous words even assembled. “We are under attack.”

Then everything made sense to me. I realized why the Oath Keepers were allowed to patrol roof tops with automatic weaponry. Why white “open carry” people are allowed to enter stores with rifles on their back while Chris Owens (a black officer) can’t get out of uniform for more than a day without his own men seeing him, mistaking him for a criminal, and beating him severely simply because the one thing he had in common with the suspect was skin tone. And remember, Chris Owens worked with these guys for a decade.

So why? Because the white people in charge are cowards and fear no longer being a power. They fear others so powerfully they need to clutch weapons and swing at the shadows.

I wish there was a better answer to all this but, hell, it’s so painfully obvious. We’re heading towards the same type of climate that occurred in Tulsa in the 1920’s.

To go back in time a little…

I was 20 when I learned about the Tulsa Race Riots. I didn’t learn it in school because I went to high school in the 90’s and, I’m not sure if things are different now, America is really not good at pointing out their own mistakes.

For those who don’t want to go read up on it, I’ll catch you up.

Back in the 20’s, there was a black shoe shiner working in an office building. His name was Dick Rowland. He had to use the bathroom one day. Unfortunately the only bathroom black people were allowed to use was tucked away on the 18th floor and he had to use the special elevator reserved for “colored people” which was operated by a white person. In this case, the young Sarah Page.

At some point during the ride, Rowland stumbled into Page causing her to scream. The exact events are unknown because every single one of Page’s reports have gone missing because of course they did. But people went nuts. The police went on a massive manhunt to bring in this man, believing he attacked her. And when they did things got even worse.

While being held, a massive lynch mob formed outside the building he was being held demanding Rowland be handed over to them. Events escalated and escalated and then, things got somehow even worse.

The Tulsa race riots happened.

White people became so terrified of black people that they took up arms. They went to the homes of black families and set them on fire, shooting at people who attempted to escape the flames. Some families trapped in their homes were temporarily relieved to see the fire department roll up only to have their hopes shattered when they realized the fire department, ironically, was helping to start the fires. The police were hanging out weapons and helping the rioters. And if that’s not crazy enough, World War 1 era biplanes were circling the town; firebombing houses and strafing the boarder, shooting any colored families attempting to flee with a barrage of bullets from the sky.

And yes, they called it "Little Africa".

And yes, they called it “Little Africa”.

All this because we were that afraid of black people.

Cutting back to the here and now and things feel like they’re getting close to that again. People are strapping rifles to themselves. Oath Keepers are allowed to sit on roof tops (and before you say there’s nothing the police could do, I remind you that being on the roof of a private business is trespassing). Things are just getting ridiculous and why? Because “We are under attack”.

And here’s the other thing that gets me, when we bring up restricting gun access people start bringing up the Second Amendment. But much like the First Amendment, we hide behind the bush of it’s flowers without noticing the thorns. You know Thomas Jefferson? Yeah you do. Played a big part in the Declaration of Independence. Patriots love that thing. But Thomas Jefferson warned against us being afraid to change the laws as times change. He said that as society evolved the laws wound have to change with it and if we became stuck in the old laws even after they were now longer necessary or actually more harm than good, “We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

Do I have a solution? Shit, I wish I did. I mean, I could simply say that we all need to grow up and stop being afraid of people just because they’re in a slightly different hue, but that’s not going to happen, is it? Not any time soon anyways. But fuck, could we try? Just…man. I have kids now, seriously, behave and grow up. I’m tired of this. I’m so fucking tired of this.


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