State Legislators Take Arms against Gun Control Moves

Article excerpt

Associated Press

There is a national movement to take guns off the streets, but in Oklahoma some lawmakers want to go the other way and permit citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, is pushing for his bill to allow Oklahomans to carry hidden weapons, unless they are felons or have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness.

His plan has drawn praise from Rep. Tim Pope, R-Mustang, who is running for the 6th District in Congress.

Pope is asking voters to elect him so he can battle Democratic President Bill Clinton and "his gun-grabbing cronies."

An acquaintance recently ran into Shurden in a State Capitol hallway after Shurden said he would try to revive his gun-toting bill, which did not get out of the Senate Rules Committee last year.

"Uh, oh, Frank. I don't have to go into my quick draw with you, do I?" the acquaintance joked.

"Naw," Shurden said with a smile.

"Frank, I saw the movie, `Tombstone,' over the weekend and you would really like it. It's a real shoot-'em-up western."

"Yeah, I've heard about that," Shurden said.

"But there's only one thing," the acquaintance continued. "After a cowboy gang shot up the town a time or two, Virgil Earp made them turn in their guns when they came into town. Guess they had gun control way back then, Frank."

"The brainwashing started a long time ago, didn't it?" Shurden quipped.

Shurden says he is serious, however, about his weapons bill, as he was several years ago when he sponsored a proposal as a House member to castrate rapists.

That proposal never became law, and Shurden said his gun bill also will probably be killed unless legislators feel there is strong public support.

He is calling on citizens to contact their legislators to help his bid to revive the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in February.

"We need to end the hypocrisy in this state," he said. "Many law-abiding citizens are presently carrying guns for self-defense. We must recognize this fact and establish sensible criteria and regulations."

Shurden's bill runs counter to what is happening in other areas of the country, where programs have people trading in their weapons for merchandise. In one case, a New York carpet merchant offered certificates to swap toys for guns. …