Barry Friedman: The end of the metaphor

Barry Friedman is a regular contributor to the OK Policy Blog. He writes the column, “Barry Friedman At Large” for Tulsa People Magazine, is a  stand-up comedian, and is the author of two books, “Road Comic” and “Funny You Should Mention It”. Barry’s website is at

Back when it was called the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, I went to one of the 11,984 gun shows that are annually booked inside and saw families in matching camouflage, wounded veterans in unaffiliated ball caps and motorized scooters, and large men standing behind tables of large guns. I spoke to a man—one of the organizers—who said the real enemies of the 2nd Amendment were “Billary (sic) Clinton and Chuckie Schumer.” 

I saw Nazi memorabilia being sold.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Just for collectors, don’t worry.”

It was about freedom, I was told.

In November, Senate Bill 1733 went into effect to remove the word “concealed” from previous law. It not only allowed Oklahoma residents to unleash their weapons from the indignity of glove compartments, but also allowed residents of other states visiting here to unburden pistols from the pockets of their Wrangler Rugged Wear® Flannel Lined Denim Jackets.

It was about freedom, I was told.

What happened last Friday in Connecticut wasn’t the end of freedom—just the end of the metaphor.

Because it’s not about Newtown anymore—it’s about Holland Hall, St. John Christian Heritage Academy, and Duncan Middle School.

Sandy Hook’s children weren’t “our” children; our children came home. But how long before the president comes to the Walter Arts Center in Tulsa or the gym at St. John in Oklahoma City or Costner Stadium in Poteau and says, “As a community, you’ve inspired us. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other”? How long before Guymon or Altus or Heavener or Broken Bow is added to the slow crawl of names when networks air Guns in America special reports?

According to CNN, there are approximately 310 million non-military firearms in the United States—that’s one for each one of us.  And for every homeowner with a Glock who kills an intruder, there’s a 9-year-old boy who accidentally shoots his 6-year-old sister. In the latest survey, America had at least 9,146 homicides by firearms. Australia had 30; England and Wales had 41. Those countries severely restrict private gun ownership; we hand them out on 21st, between Harvard and Yale; we wear them in the open around Utica Square.

“It’s one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I’ve ever seen in my life time,” says former Chief Justice Warren Burger of the 27 words that has turned a nation into constitutional forensic scholars. “The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies–the militias would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

But I’m sure you’ve got Facebook friends who know better and have posted about how cars cause more death than pistols, how Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and ammonia to murder, how guns don’t kill people anyway, how it’s America!

The logic is lazy; the jingoism is stale.

Three hundred million more guns won’t make us safer (six hundred million won’t); hugging our children a little tighter won’t; reintroducing the Lord’s prayer to the beginning of every school day won’t; arming principals, outlawing gay marriage and the teaching of evolution won’t; limiting the number of rounds Bruce Willis can fire in Die Hard V won’t.

What might (and it may take decades):  an assault weapons ban, an end to gun show loopholes, more mental health screenings, an internet sales prohibition, mandatory insurances, limits on magazines and clips, higher taxes on ammunition, discouraging investment in gun manufacturers that market to civilians, and buy-back programs.

We need gun control for the most obvious reason: not having it didn’t work, not having it got us here. And we need it not just for the 20 children in western Connecticut who didn’t come bounding down the stairs this week to see what’s under the tree, but for the thousands of Holland Hall, St. John, and Duncan kids who did.

The opinions stated above are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.


The opinions stated in guest articles are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

3 thoughts on “Barry Friedman: The end of the metaphor

  1. Barry, one other idea that I had and that surely others have thought of: liability insurance on guns. Just like you insure a car to cover any damage that may be incurred from its use, we ought to be required to insure guns also. The more dangerous the guns, the higher the premium. The side benefit of this will be that the insurance lobby will join the gun control movement, simply as a means of retaining profit. Fighting capitalistic fire with capitalistic fire, as it were.

  2. And then watch what happens: private insurance companies will balk at underwriting policies on semi-automatic weapons (imagine the claims from Aurora, Columbine, and Sandy Hook) and then the gun lobby will DEMAND some sort of Public Option, a national and/or state insurance program for those unable to acquire private coverage.

  3. I’m just tired of the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” line. If the guy in upstate New York only had a knife, how many firemen would he have killed when they came to put out the fire he’d set? From how far away? If the guy in CT only had a knife, how many kids would be dead? Would all six adults be dead, assuming they’d ganged up and charged him all at once? “People with guns kill people much much much more efficiently” should be the new line. And unlike fertilizer and cars and tobacco and bowls full of soup and stairs and Zorb balls and penicillin and peanuts and bees, the only reason guns exist is to shoot bullets/projectiles/ammunition into things to harm/destroy/kill them, so there is no honest comparison between guns and any other random thing that sometimes kills people. And the mental health idea is where the solution lies, but not in stopping people who obey the voices from killing other people (we should certainly deal with them and who makes them take their meds… are we allowed to “make them” take their meds?), but in the American Male who can’t hear “I’m breaking up with you” without thinking the perfectly logical thing to do is kill the girl and then himself. What other solution is there, for heaven’s sake? Were these guys the products of those horrifying “self-esteem” projects those misbegotten girls who got Elementary Education degrees fostered on us 20 years ago? And as Jon Stewart pointed out Tuesday night, we need to deal with the mental health of the paranoid few who are sure everyone is out to take their precious, life-affirming, liberty-giving guns away. These paranoid few are running the agenda, and THAT must be stopped. We don’t take their guns away, we get them some counseling and calm them down.

    Rant over. I loves me some Barry Friedman and always have.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.