OU regent and former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating called for stricter national gun laws after two mass shootings occurred less than 24 hours apart in Texas and Ohio over the weekend.
In a New York Times article, Keating said the shootings demanded stricter firearm regulations and for President Donald Trump to “realize the lethality of his rhetoric.”
“The truth is, the president is the secular pope,” Keating said in the article, “and he needs to be a moral leader as well as a government leader, and to say that this must not occur again — exclamation mark.”
An Aug. 4 article from the New York Times analyzed how the El Paso shooter seemed to be emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric, citing excerpts from the suspect’s manifesto.
Keating told The Daily on Tuesday the frequency of gun violence in recent years is “ridiculous.”.
“We simply can’t have this again. When I was growing up, and I believe largely when my children were growing up, we didn’t have this,” Keating said. “The contempt for human life, the dismissal of an individual’s right to be left alone, and the use of race, sex and nationality as an excuse for killing.”
Reasons for increased gun violence, Keating said, include video games, extremist ideas circulating social media and “inattentive” parents.
A link between video games and gun violence has not been established, and research suggests the two are not linked.
Easy access to “war weapons” also enabled the attacks, Keating said, adding that the shooters had no previous criminal records and were able to legally purchase the weapons they used in the attacks.
“Why are people who are not fighting wars allowed to buy war weapons,” Keating said. “You can’t buy a flamethrower, you can’t buy a bazooka, why should you be able to buy an AR-15?”
Keating said the Feb. 27 passage of Oklahoma’s permitless carry law — which allows individuals over 21 to carry a firearm, concealed or unconcealed, without a permit as long as they do not have certain criminal charges or a mental illness — was concerning following the shootings.
“We as citizens are required to take a course to get a fishing or hunting license — why is it that we without a course can carry a dangerous firearm that we have no idea how it operates?” Keating said.
Keating said he owns several guns he uses for recreation, and while he supports the Second Amendment, civilians should not be able to access weapons similar to military firearms.
“This isn’t the (Second) Amendment, to say that I can arm myself with every weapon of modern warfare,” Keating said. “That’s ridiculous in an urban, civilized society.”
Keating said Trump must lead efforts for legislative change to make “war weapons” inaccessible, Keating said.
“It starts with the president to bring us together, to start that dialogue and have that debate,” Keating said. “If (Trump) is able, or if the (Republicans and Democrats) are able to fine-tune legislation on any number of subjects, they should be able to address this issue aggressively, sensibly and quickly.”