Friday, October 9, 2015

Pro-Gun Responses To The Umpqua Shooting: Part I -- Roseburg Pro-Gun Locals And President Obama

(This is Part I of a two-part series. Part II focuses on the political responses).

It's no surprise to anyone that there are polar differences between the two sides of the gun debate.  Nothing displays that difference more than the responses after a large mass shooting.

I speak, of course, about the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College, where a lone gunman with a disturbing history armed himself to the teeth, killed nine people and wounded nine more, before killing himself.  Today, one of the survivors, who was spared by the gunman, gave details about the shooting.

And yet today there were two more shootings a schools (yes, in a single day).  One was at Northern Arizona
President Obama embraces Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich as
Oregon Governor Kate Brown stands by (source)
University, where a freshman (who has been arrested) shot four people, one of whom died, during an argument in a dormitory parking lot.  The other was at Texas Southern University, where a assailant (who is still on the loose) shot and killed a freshman and wounded another student in a campus housing complex.  [By a twist of karma, Texas just passed a bill allowing the legal carry of guns on campuses, much to the disapproval of most students, faculty and staff, just like everywhere else in the nation where such bill have passed.]

Today, President Obama visited Roseburg to offer his support and condolences to the victims of the UCC shooting, flying through my city of Eugene on the way.  To the lower right is a picture of Air Force One taking off as he left, taken by my wife.  He said in a brief news conference:
"I just had a chance to talk to them. Obviously, in moments like this, words aren't going to bring their loved ones back. 
"One thing they shared is how much they appreciate the entire UCC community coming together, how much they appreciate all their neighbors, all their friends and people all across the country who offered to help - sent their thoughts and their prayers. 
"What I just told the mayor, if there's anything we can do at the federal level to help the community heal from this loss, we're going to do that. I know that flying out here with some of the members of the Oregon delegation, they feel the same way.
Air Force 1 taking off from Eugene
The President's visit with family members was brief but poignant.  From another article:

“We’re going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place” so regularly, Obama told reporters following the approximately hourlong, private meeting with grieving relatives of those who were killed and injured. “But today, it’s about the families, their grief and the love we feel for them.” The White House did not say how many people Obama met with.

The President had, a few days ago, addressed the nation in a very poignant speech which underscored his commitment to change our gun laws and calling upon legislators to change the continuing "routine" and cycle of gun violence and mass shootings.

Naturally, the pro-gun forces flipped out.  Not only have they been fluttering about "gun free zones" which UCC wasn't, and insisting that there should be more guns available (two myths that I blogged about the other day), but they have responded with very public statements and displays of armed force.

The owner of the gun shop in Roseburg couldn't be happier about the mass shooting in her town.  She told a reporter from The Guardian:
Candi Kinney, giddy about gun sales
with one of her lethal weapons in hand

“I’ve just ordered some more ARs,” said the owner, Candi Kinney, referring to assault rifles. “There’s always a rush on them after a big shooting. We can’t keep the stuff on the shelves.”
A shameless profiteer, Kinney also shows absolutely no remorse that some of the guns used in the mass shooting might have been sold to the killer and his mother by her store.

Yet, even if it’s revealed later that one or more guns involved in the shooting were purchased at the Roseburg Gun Shop, Kinney said she would feel no guilt.  
“Any of our firearms can end up in a crime,” Kinney said. “And they have. We have found out in the past that our firearms [were used] in different crimes. It is not our fault. We didn’t tell that person to go do such and such. We didn’t tell that person to go sell it to some druggie — it’ not our fault. We legally sold the firearm.”
What kind of person wouldn't feel at least some feeling of remorse if they had had a role in selling a lethal weapon to a mass shooter, legal or not??  Sick!

She was also quite happy about the President's response.  She is seen in an article smiling with her lethal weapons, and states:

“Gun sales have gone through the roof since he started talking,” said gun dealer Candi Kinney. “(The President) is our best salesman.”
Pro-gun protesters in Roseburg (source)

Today, the gun guys staged a public rally on street corners in Roseburg to "unwelcome" Obama, guns on hip, with anti-Obama signs waving. There were only around 150 of them, but they got quite a bit of media coverage.  They waved their Confederate flags and Gadsden "Don't Tread On Me" flags and shouted the typical pro-gun bumpersticker slogans.  One protester with a gun on his chest, is quoted as saying "Everybody should carry a gun."  Typical.

Well, it turns out, the organizer of the rallies is a guy named Casey Runyan, a member of the III%ers militia group, and a convicted felon.  Boom!  He has a prior record of felony assault.  What else would you expect?  As an activist, he has also attended legislative hearings for gun bills.  In one case, he rudely interrupted testimony by Captain Mark Kelly, husband to shooting victim and legislator Gabby Gifford.  He is also a failed GOP political candidate, too extreme even for the libertarian Tea Party lunatic, Art Robinson, to even support.  I guess serving eight months in jail for felony assault will do that.  I would assume that a felony assault record would prevent Mr. Runyan from owning guns, right?  Someone should look into that, given how openly pro-gun and activist he is.  Just another example of how the pro-gun movement is also pro-criminal.

And though the press has given a lot of text in their articles to the pro-gun antagonists and profiteers like Runyan and Kinney, there are certainly plenty of supporters in Roseburg, like this woman, or like the mayor and city council of Roseburg, who put out a statement in support of his visit.

Umpqua Community College students have been returning to campus, and classes start again on Monday.  I wonder how they feel about these shameless, pro-gun lunatics?

And, though southern Oregon is a bastion for pro-gun and conservative beliefs, I firmly believe that the majority of people there are not so jaded, rude, or overtly extreme as the people I mentioned above.  Let's hope they will speak up and refuse to be overshadowed by the vocal fringe.

Gun seller and shooter-sympathizer
Carolyn Kellim with one of her
lethal weapons (source)

Addendum (10/11/15):  One Roseburg gun seller, an elder lady with the ironic name of Carolyn Kellim, wants the world to know that she sympathizes with the UCC killer, stating "He was just a child ... He probably had his ups and downs, mostly downs. How are you going to come out of that if someone doesn't care."  And "bristles" at the idea of gun law reform, opposing any and all new gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of killers like the one she sympathizes with, suggesting that the only change needs to be "we need to love people a heck of a lot more."  She also calls the President the "executive anus."  So classy.  Oh, and even though she sells lethal weapons, some of which inevitably wind up being used to rob, kill, or injure innocent people, she wants the world to know that she a humanitarian because she donates proceeds of her gun sales to charity.  Sorry, grandma, but that won't make you a good person.

Addendum (10/20/15):  At least some Roseburg locals, including a physician and UCC board member, speak up in support of stricter gun legislation.