Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition challenges gun laws

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson says his Rainbow PUSH Coalition will organize to change gun laws in Oklahoma, where a shooting spree recently terrorized residents in a predominantly black section of Tulsa.

Jackson and members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus met Wednesday at the state Capitol and talked to reporters about concerns over the case and other recent violence. The civil rights activist called the Tulsa incident a “terrorist attack” that sent “traumatizing waves of fear across Tulsa and the state.”

“We cannot allow the terrorists to steal our dreams,” Jackson said.

Three people were killed and two wounded in the Easter weekend shootings on Tulsa’s north side. Jake England, 19, and his roommate, Alvin Watts, 33, face charges of first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and malicious harassment. The harassment counts allege the victims were targeted because of their race.

Police have said England and Watts appeared to have chosen five random victims, and that one motive might have been England’s desire to avenge his father’s fatal shooting by a black man two years ago. Defense attorney Clark Brewster, an attorney who has agreed to represent England, has said it’s “a misplaced premise that he was motivated by any racial hate.”

Democratic state Sen. Constance Johnson said other cases also deserve attention, including the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old by a Del City police officer last month. Police have said Dane Garrett Scott Jr. was shot after a car chase and struggle with the officer. Democratic state Rep. Mike Shelton has called for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to take the lead in the probe to ensure impartiality. An autopsy report said Scott was shot in the back.

Jackson’s Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition is supporting a ban on assault weapons, while challenging both legislation that would allow open carry of guns in Oklahoma and a current law that lets residents in that state use deadly force when necessary to protect themselves against death or great bodily harm. The February shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida has brought scrutiny to so-called stand your ground laws.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.