Friday, October 02, 2015

Rural Oregon community where 10 were killed Thursday has long fought for right to bear arms

In the small towns of Western Oregon—like conservative Roseburg, where 10 people were killed during a shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday—the right to bear arms is a way of life, Jim Tankersley reports for The Washington Post. After the 2013 Newtown shootings that left 26 dead, including 20 children, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden "making 'a formal request that you NOT tamper with or attempt to amend the 2nd Amendment' and vowing not to enforce any such law that violated the constitution." He wrote, “Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings."

Earlier this year "when Oregon lawmakers were considering their own background check expansion, Douglas County leaders recoiled again, even before the Democratic-controlled legislature could send it to the governor," Tankersley writes. "At a meeting in February, county commissioners approved a resolution 'objecting to any expansion of Oregon's failed background-check' system for firearms transfers between qualified, law-abiding persons' The bill passed over their objections, and Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed it."

"That legislation made Oregon one of the first states to adopt the blanket background checks that have been pushed by a national gun-control group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg," Tankersley writes. "Those checks apply to almost any transfer of a gun between two people who aren’t related to one another, and not just to sales at shops and gun shows. Until that point, Oregon put relatively few restrictions on gun ownership, compared to other states."

"A right to bear arms is enshrined in the state constitution," Tankersley writes. "No state license is required to buy a gun. It is a “shall-issue” state for concealed weapons permits, meaning applicants only need to satisfy certain criteria—like not having any outsanding warrants for their arrest—and not demonstrated a need to carry a gun concealed. The background checks law was a step in a different direction. And to some in large swaths of rural Oregon—and vast expanses of America—it can feel like a betrayal of their way of life. (Read more)

The shooter targeted Christians, and that is rare, the Post reports, citing FBI data from 2013: There were 625 hate crimes against Jews, 135 against Muslims, 70 against Catholics and 35 against Protestants.

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