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Yesterday's shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon left 10 people dead, seven injured, and many wondering how such tragedies became commonplace. It was the 45th school shooting in the US this year.
"Somehow this has become routine," observed President Obama, speaking to reporters after the incident was announced. "We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months."
President Obama predicted gun lobbyists would respond to the shootings with a call for less control. But in the wake of this tragedy, Second Amendment advocates seem to be staying silent.
The National Rifle Association did not initially addressed the shooting online. The NRA's normally-active Twitter feed ceased posting once the shooting was announced. Meanwhile, the Oregon Firearms Federation -- tagline "Oregon's Only No Compromise Gun Rights Organization" -- has no updates.
Oregon allows open carrying of guns and issues permits for concealed carry. People with open carry licenses are exempt from local ordinances or restrictions. Background checks are conducted electronically at the point of sale, so there is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in Oregon.
To obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in Oregon, a person applies with the local sheriff. The applicant must be an American or a legal resident with proof of intent to obtain citizenship, 21 years old, a county resident without outstanding arrest warrants, and who demonstrates competence with a handgun after completing a certified training course unless already licensed to carry a gun. Limitations exist for people who have been convicted of crimes or committed for mental health issues.
College campuses in Oregon cannot technically ban firearms. The Oregon University system used to have a complete gun ban on university grounds; however, in 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the ban. As a result of that decision, public colleges are prohibited from banning guns on campus. Individuals with concealed carry permits are allowed to carry guns, despite college bans.
The community college shooter was confirmed as Chris Harper-Mercer, 26. He was shot dead by police yesterday on the scene and was carrying four guns when he went on his rampage.
Reporters are scouring his social media accounts looking for clues, indications that his actions could have been predicted. But it is the President's dire predictions that should concern us now.
"I hope and pray that I don't have to come out, again, during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can't guarantee that, and that is terrible to say."
The debate over gun control is not new in Oregon. This year, state legislators passed a law closing a loophole for background checks on private gun sales, having failed to win support for it in a years-long battle.
Roseburg is in Douglas County. The county sheriff, John Hanlin, has been vocal in his opposition to gun control. Today, in contrast to Obama, Hanlin told CNN that it is not the time to discuss that issue, despite having to deal with the aftermath of the community college shooting.
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