Welcome to Oklahoma where the gun control debate just came sweeping down the plain.
The latest “mass shooting at a place where there shouldn’t be mass shootings” story came from Louie’s on the Lake near Lake Hefner. (Update. After I wrote this sentence another school shooting happened at an Indiana Middle School so it wasn’t the latest anymore.)
I guess if any story like this has a happy ending, it is this one. At least none of the victims lost their lives. The suspect — who police say has a history of mental illness — lost his. So that silver lining certainly has a cloud attached to it.
The man who died actually shot into the restaurant and hit a few people who were inside just trying to celebrate a birthday — not overly concerned for their lives. Alexander Tilghman, the 28-year-old who began firing into the popular restaurant is reported to have placed videos on social media platforms claiming to be tormented by demons and even walking around the lake where the shooting occurred claiming ducks and other creatures were demons who were attacking him.
Also, he had no trouble coming into possession of a firearm. He was even licensed to carry the firearm because he was certified to be a security guard.
We’ll call this side one of the gun control debate coin. Tilghman obviously needed more mental health treatment than he was receiving. Why? We don’t know those details yet.
At some point, he must have had his struggles under control. That time apparently passed. It is safe to say that any gun control worth its weight in spent rounds would clearly specify that a person who has lost touch with reality shouldn’t be in touch with weaponry.
I hope that point is even obvious to the most ardent National Rifle Association member.
But this story also allows us to flip the coin. The “good guy with a gun” theory also became a reality May 24.
Reports say that the man was leaving the restaurant when it happened, but he was still armed and still affected by a mental condition that made it seem like a good idea to shoot people he didn’t know.
Two men who owned and carried firearms retrieved them from safe places in their vehicles and confronted the dangerous man before police had any chance to arrive. When the shooter didn’t drop his weapons, it cost him his life.
So there is the other side of the coin in the debate.
This story has something for everyone. People struggling with mental health issues with easy access to guns. Innocent people shot for no real reason. Gun owners save the day and end a dangerous situation.
It’s like watching a legislative debate on gun control being played out in real time.
It’s sad to see so many gun rights advocates on Twitter talking about how no one will report this because it doesn’t fit the liberal media narrative on gun control.
“You’ll never see this on CNN,” they rage in victimization. I hate to be “actually guy,” but actually, CNN was among the very first to pick up on local reporting that the situation could have been much worse without the armed civilians who ended the conflict.
The NRA soon came out lauding the good guys with guns and lambasting Governor Mary Fallin because she vetoed a bill that would have allowed open carrying of firearms in Oklahoma with no restrictions.
That bill was dangerous and costly.
It eliminated a safety course requirement, proficiency requirements, fingerprinting and licensing rules. The bill would even cost the OSBI $4.2 million.
Gov. Fallin was right to veto it.
The witnesses on the scene even described the actions of the armed civilians as well-trained and they even believed they may have been off-duty officers. They were responsible, trained and practiced gun owners.
They appeared to be trained because they were. One had a military background. The other was a security guard and former police officer.
They weren’t just random, untrained people who had enough of a balance left on a credit card to buy a pistol and carry it around.
Even if you love the good guy with a gun theory, you can’t be pleased with how many good guys with guns we seem to need lately.
Shooting after shooting, victim after victim. We have to do something about guns in this society. Regardless of the outcome, Louie’s on the Lake shouldn’t be a war zone on a Thursday night.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.