More guns not the answer
As of our Monday press time, the killer of Ashley Okland had yet to be found.
In fact, clues to the killer's identity are scarce. Family and friends are
distressed. Police seem baffled. And a killer is on the loose.
The 27-year-old Okland, who was a realtor with Iowa Realty, was showing an office/model home at 558 Stone Creek Court for the Stone Creek Villas around 2 p.m. when she suffered two gunshot wounds. She was taken to Methodist Medical Center where she later died. Iowa Realty President Mike Knapp released a message to his employees Friday, stating that all open houses were canceled for Saturday and Sunday, stating a concern for the safety of the company's agents.
The news of this murder shocked central Iowans, but maybe it shouldn't have. The process of realtors showing homes via open houses is all too inviting for many types of horrible crimes, including murder. Okland was a beautiful young woman with a photo that was easily accessible in a number of sources typically used by realtors to reach potential buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, those same sources are also easily accessible by stalkers. The best realtors are great self promoters, but this practice also creates what is now a very obvious risk.
Okland was a member of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors. Needless to say, the 1,400-plus members are mournful of her death but are also thanking the heavens that they were not in her place. They now are naturally contemplating how to stay safe when partaking in the essential part of their jobs — showing homes.
Should agents work in pairs? Should they require a verified registration process with identification on potential buyers, even for open houses? Should video cameras be installed? Should agents carry pepper spray? And the biggest question of the day, should agents carry firearms?
The answers are yes, yes, yes, yes… and a definite no. Polk County already has issued nearly 5,200 permits for concealed handguns, and the unfortunate death of Okland will certainly cause another spike in registrations, this time from realtors.
We don't need more guns, especially in the hands of inexperienced users who may rush to judgment and cause more death. We need to do all we can to help the police capture this killer, but let's not make matters worse by adding more guns to the mix. CV