With a community college shooting unfolding today in Oregon — current reports put the death toll as high as 13, with more than 20 wounded — the White House was quick to remind reporters that “sensible steps” should be taken “to protect our communities from gun violence.”
No information has been released about the shooter other than his age — 20 — and reports that he apparently warned of the shooting on social media (and got advice from others). The shooter was killed.
“There are some common sense steps — things like closing the gun show loophole and others — that have strong bipartisan support across the country. According to some polling data, there’s even a majority of Republicans that support closing the gun show loophole,” Earnest told reporters in the daily briefing as the news was breaking, reiterating administration talking points on gun control.
“We have not yet seen that kind of strong bipartisan support across the country translate into legislative support in the United States Congress that’s sufficient to pass legislation that would, again, implement these kinds of common sense solutions.”
However, Earnest said, “there’s no piece of legislation that can be passed into law by the Congress that would prevent every single incident of gun violence.”
The campus at which today’s massacre occurred, Umpqua Community College, had tough gun restrictions. Sheriff’s officials said they had no armed security guards on campus.
“But there are some common sense things that we can do, and I think the vast majority of the American people — the vast majority of the American people share the president’s view in wondering why Congress wouldn’t take those kinds of common sense steps,” Earnest continued.
“And it’s — the president’s been quite candid about how this is and has been a source of frustration for him. It has not at all been lowered on the priority scale. But at the same time, the president is quite realistic that we’ll need to see a fundamental change in terms of the way the American people communicate this priority to Congress before we’ll see a different outcome in the legislative process.”
Oregon’s senators did not include gun-control advocacy in their devastated reactions to the shooting.
“I am absolutely heartbroken by today’s news,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said. “I have been in touch with local officials to express my deepest condolences and offer my assistance in any way possible and I will continue to monitor this tragedy and its response.”
“Oregonians everywhere want Roseburg to know we’re praying for them,” tweeted Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Roseburg’s congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), stressed that “once we know more about what happened today, I plan to work with my colleagues in Congress to find ways to prevent tragedies such as these.”
“Today’s shooting in Roseburg is a heartbreaking tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” DeFazio said. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Roseburg’s first responders for their work in responding to the event.”
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) already had a press conference scheduled for tomorrow to introduce new gun-control legislation that would block gun sales until background checks are complete.
Currently, gun retailers can move forward with the sale if law enforcement background checks are still pending after three days. Some businesses already block “default sales,” including Walmart. Senate Dems have been lobbying other retailers, Cabela’s, EZ Pawn, and Bass Pro Shops, to voluntarily follow suit.