A funny thing happened on the way to a gun control utopia in the wake of the Roseburg shootings: People there don’t want any part of the anti-gun nuts disarming the public. Funny how that works.
A week has passed since J.J. Vicari huddled underneath a desk while gunshots exploded in the classroom next door. Now, he is thinking about guns. Not about tightening gun laws, as President Barack Obama urged after nine people were killed at the community college here. But about buying one for himself.
“It’s opened my eyes,” said Vicari, 19. “I want to have a gun in the house to protect myself, to protect the people I’m with. I’m sure I’ll have a normal life and never have to go through anything like this, but I want to be sure.”
Obama plans to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet the grieving families of yet another gun rampage, but many people here are bristling at his renewed call for stricter gun laws. In some ways, the rampage at the college by a 26-year-old student, Christopher Harper-Mercer, has actually tightened the embrace of guns in a rural town where shots at rifle ranges echo off the hills and hunters bag deer and elk through the fall.
Some families touched by the violence and students who fled gunfire said they now feared that the kind of bloodshed seen inside Classroom 15 at Snyder Hall, Umpqua Community College, could happen anywhere. Some said they were planning to buy guns. Others said they would seek concealed-weapons permits. Others, echoing gun advocates’ calls for more weapons on campus, said the college should allow its security guard to carry guns. A few said they thought that stricter gun control laws could have averted the massacre.
Even Obama’s visit has stirred fiercely polarized responses. Some residents and the publisher of a weekly conservative newspaper said he was not welcome and accused him of using the town’s anguish to advance his gun-control agenda.
It’s quite obvious what he’s doing since he’s the one who said this should be politicized.
The debate has rolled across a conservative, timber-producing region where flags are at half-staff and roadside signs beseech prayers for the victims. From a wooded gun range south of town, to City Hall, to KC’s Exchange, where Carolyn Kellim sells handguns and ammunition out of her home, people insisted that the actions of Harper-Mercer, who was armed with six guns and spare ammunition magazines, would not displace guns from their place in local life.
“That’s why we have guns: We don’t have the government dictating when to get on our knees,” said Kellim, who is 86.
A community college student has started a petition to allow concealed weapons on all campuses, echoing hotly disputed arguments from national gun groups that mass shootings could be stopped by more “good guys with guns.” In 2011, an Oregon court said public colleges could not ban guns from campus.
“This just shows you, you have to have a way to protect yourself,” said Makayla Thomas, 19, who raced into a student center when the attack started and huddled there until the police arrived. “It’s happened once. Who knows what can happen?”
Democrats would prefer you be a sitting duck while ignoring the usual reason behind any of these mass shootings: The killers are mentally ill. So too, apparently, are Democrats seeking to disarm the public.