The politically conservative community in Southern Oregon’s timber country where a gunman killed nine innocent college students this week has long supported gun rights, and that hasn’t changed in the wake of the massacre.
Their voices were drowned out yesterday by President Barack Obama, who never lets a gun-related crisis go to waste, and thus immediately jumped on his soapbox to shame the nation and push for more gun-control laws. But the residents of Roseburg, Oregon, are steadfast in their support for gun rights.
Following the Umpqua Commnity College shooting, the county’s top law enforcement officer told CNN that his position on gun control has not changed.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin is in fact an outspoken opponent of gun-control laws.
He spoke out against state and federal gun control legislation last year, telling a legislative committee that mandating background checks for private, person-to-person gun sales would not prevent criminals from getting firearms.
Hanlin also sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden in 2013, after a shooter killed 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school. Hanlin said he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions “offending the constitutional rights of my citizens.”
The community, where people like to hunt deer, elk and bear, echoes his push to protect gun rights.
“I carry to protect myself – the exact same reason this happened,” said Casey Runyan, referring to the Thursday’s shooting. Runyan carries a Glock 29 pistol everywhere he goes.
“All my friends agree with me. That’s the only kind of friends I have,” said Runyan, a disabled Marine Corps veteran.
Retired U.S. Army nurse Donice “Maggie Rose” Smith, who also hosts a talk show on Internet radio, said she and her husband, a retired Army captain, chose Douglas County for their retirement because of a low crime rate and strong local support for First and Second Amendment rights.
J.C. Smith said barring people from carrying guns on campus made it particularly vulnerable to a “lone wolf” attack.
“With current world events, (armed people) would keep the ground safer,” he said.
Umpqua Community College Interim President Rita Cavin said of the shooting, “This is an anomaly and a tragedy.”
Hopefully, she is reconsidering the school’s policy of no guns on campus and no armed security presence.