Vigils were held in Oregon last night after a gunman opened fire at a community college Thursday morning, killing nine people before he was shot to death. Press reports have identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer. CNN reported the suspect was armed with three handguns, a “long gun” and body armor. According to one count, this is the 294th mass shooting in the United States so far this year and the 45th shooting on a school or college campus. “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine,” President Obama said. “The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Vigils were held in Oregon last night after a gunman opened fire at a community college Thursday morning, killing nine people before he was shot to death. The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg has been described as the deadliest shooting in Oregon’s history and one of the worst mass shootings in recent years. Roseburg is a town of 22,000, located about 180 miles south of Portland. Press reports have identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer. CNN reported the suspect was armed with three handguns, a long gun and body armor. According to survivors, the gunman at one point ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before shooting them one by one. Cassie Welding, a student at Umpqua Community College, described what happened.
CASSANDRA WELDING: It was around 10:30, and I heard a really big, like, kapow noise, almost like a balloon popping, like it sounded like, you know, when your balloon gets too much air and then just pops. And I heard—within five seconds, I heard about four more. And my teacher left before this happened, so I don’t know at this point if she’s OK or not. … There were also—I heard crying. I heard pretty much just like nonstop breathing and can’t catch your breath kind of, you know—and I was doing the same. Everyone was shaking. I just heard “I love you”s. … The gunman shot her. I did not see the gunman, but I witnessed her getting shot. And so, at this point, you know, everyone is also in—everyone’s more panicked as it is already, and so we get her inside, because the door was slightly open. And we still hear gunshots, even when this is going on. We pulled the lady in, doing CPR on her.
AMY GOODMAN: According to one count, this is the 294th mass shooting in the United States so far this year and the 45th shooting on a school or college campus. The tally is from the website Mass Shooting Tracker, which records every incident where four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire. On Thursday, President Obama spoke out about the school shooting.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this. We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.
And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of commonsense gun legislation. Right now I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. “We need more guns,” they’ll argue, “fewer gun safety laws.” Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country. They know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws, including the majority of responsible law-abiding gun owners. There is a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama went on to make an appeal to news organizations to publish statistics comparing deaths in the U.S. from terrorist attacks to deaths resulting from gun violence.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We spend over a trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be? This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.
When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws, because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different? That our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon? When there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations? Doesn’t make sense.