Letters: On permit-to-purchase gun laws, food bank –

To keep Oklahomans safe, we need to keep people who hurt other people from purchasing guns. More than 800 people die in Oklahoma every year from gun violence ― over 200 of those deaths are homicides. Like many Tulsans, I had friends at Saint Francis Hospital on June 1, 2022, when a man used a handgun and rifle to kill four people and himself in an adjacent clinic. My stomach dropped when I thought of my friends being in danger. Thankfully, my friends survived. Four other Tulsans did not. The next day my workplace, a clinic for children, reviewed how to protect our children in an active shooter situation, and the sobering reality hit me. Gun violence hurts all of us.
We must find solutions that work. Unfortunately, the public discourse is full of solutions based on intuition (“the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”) or political impossibilities (“ban all guns!”). But since the 50 states have various gun laws, natural experiments show us what really works. Rather than trusting intuition, we should trust solutions backed by research. One evidence-based solution is permit-to-purchase laws, such as the one passed by ballot initiative in Oregon recently, which require gun purchasers to obtain a purchasing license first by completing a thorough background check and brief safety training course. This permit serves to enforce gun restrictions already on the books that prohibit those with felony or domestic violence convictions or domestic violence restraining orders from purchasing guns. Since Connecticut passed a permit-to-purchase law in 1995, it has seen 25% fewer gun-related homicides than expected. Missouri repealed a permit-to-purchase law in 2007 and saw 40% more. Permit-to-purchase laws save lives. Oklahomans should follow Oregonians by putting a permit-to-purchase law on the ballot.
— Andrew Helt, Tulsa
I was invited and attended a wonderful event recently. It was the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Hope’s Harvest Luncheon. It brought back an awareness of the ongoing problem of hunger and nutrition for citizens of our state and Oklahoma City. I viewed a wonderful video of the magnificent work that the Urban League of Central Oklahoma is doing in Senate District 48. I was elated to hear that the Food Bank had agreed to help them extend their feeding program to even more students than they already serve.
As a life member of the Urban League, I paused to think of how we could do even more. I heard presentations from several organizations, including Pivot (formerly Youth Services of Central Oklahoma) about assistance given to young people who are homeless, without not only shelter but access to food. It is encouraging that there are organizations making a positive impact on communities experiencing the lack of food and nutrition. I am so thankful for Dr. Stacy Dykstra and the work that she is doing as the chief executive officer of the Regional Food Bank.
I remembered some 35-40 years ago when I began my pastoral ministry at Faith Memorial Baptist Church. One of my first assignments was working with the Food Bank, picking up food and then ― on our designated days at the church ― helping individuals from the community get a break on life through the ministry at our church.
Like ours, churches and other organizations around the area can determine how they can best be a satellite and aid in bringing opportunity for people in the community to receive assistance from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
― George Young, D, Oklahoma City Senate District 48.


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