A Tale of Two Cities and Armed Self-Defense

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

The cities of Oakland, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma may not have much in common, especially when it comes to the gun laws governing residents, but business owners in both locales were able to use their firearms in self-defense this week.

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The first incident unfolded in Oakland on Monday morning as employees at MSM Jewelry were getting ready to open for business. According to police, two armed suspects made their way inside the store, but were greeted by a worker with a gun of his own.

The owner of the store said he shot at the suspects, and they fired back multiple times in an incident captured on security camera video. No one in the store was hurt, but the owner said he may have hit one of the suspects.

This is just the latest in a string of violent armed robberies in the city’s Fruitvale District.

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo said it’s gotten so bad, that local merchants are calling for an emergency meeting with city officials.

“To express their concern, but we’re working with the police captain for the area. We did assign ongoing officers on a daily basis. We do have ambassadors in the violence prevention program,” said Gallo.

No offense to the councilman, but no matter how many officers are on patrol in the neighborhood there won’t be enough to provide around-the-clock protection for business owners. And while I’m all in favor of proven violence reduction strategies that don’t infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, I’m not sure that violence interrupters are going to be able to stop armed robberies like this. What, if anything, is Gallo doing to ensure that other local business owners can protect themselves with a gun, especially now that SB 2’s ridiculous new “emergency” rules for instructors have left many Californians unable to take the training course required for a California carry permit?

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Thankfully, business owners in Oklahoma don’t have to navigate a maze of red tape before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. Thanks to Oklahoma’s Constitutional Carry law, if you can legally own a gun you can lawfully carry one.. Oklahoma City police haven’t said if a worker at a business on the city’s southwest side who shot and killed a knife-wielding suspect had an active concealed carry license or not, but they do believe that the shooting was done in self-defense.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Monday, police responded to reports of a disturbance at a business along Southwest 29th Street near South Kentucky Avenue. When officers arrived, police said they found a 55-year-old man who had been shot.

The Oklahoma City Police Department identified the man as Marvin Thomas.

Investigators said they learned that Thomas went to the business and started an altercation with someone inside. He then pulled out a knife and swung it at someone, who police said shot and killed Thomas.

Police told KOCO 5 that the altercation wasn’t an attempted robbery but instead was over a business deal.

While it’s not impossible for Alameda County residents to obtain a concealed carry license, I think it’s fair to say that there are far more legal gun owners walking around in Oklahoma City than Oakland. Of the two cities, however, Oklahoma City is by the far the safer.

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Though Oklahoma City has about 250,000 more residents than Oakland, it had about half the number of homicides of the gun-controlled California city last year. Oakland, with about 430,000 residents, saw 126 homicides, while OKC and its 687,000 or so residents saw 75; a number that police officials say is a little misleading thanks to a change in state law.

2023 was the first time that people who were charged in a fentanyl death were included in the homicide statistics, which is why police said OKC saw an uptick in the numbers last year.

“We had never counted those as homicides prior to this past year, so it skews the number for 2023,” said Gary Knight with OKC police.

According to OKC police, there were 75 homicides in OKC in 2023, up from 74 in 2022.

Not including those fentanyl deaths, Knight said OKC saw 67 homicides in 2023, which continues the downward trend Oklahoma City has seen in the last few years and even decades.

“If you go back to the 1970s and 1980s, we were having about 100 homicides a year, and the population was much smaller,” Knight said.

According to gun control activists, Oakland and Oklahoma City’s homicide statistics should be reversed. After all, California is home to the “best” gun laws in the nation, while Oklahoma gets an “F” from the gun control group Giffords. In truth, violent crime is rising in gun-controlled Oakland and plunging in permitless-carry Oklahoma City; an impossibility as far as the gun control lobby is concerned, but unsurprising for those of us who don’t take it as a matter of faith that more guns equates to more crime.

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