ROSEBURG, Ore. — 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 Obama urged after nine people were killed at the community college here. But about buying one for himself.
“It’s opened my eyes,” said Mr. 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.”
Mr. 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 Mr. 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.
The language got so angry that on Tuesday the mayor and other city
officials put out a statement saying they welcomed Mr. Obama and
“will extend him every courtesy.”
And while the mass shooting here has pushed some people toward
wanting to arm themselves, it has also pushed others in the opposite
direction. Students like Devon Paasch, 36, whose writing teacher,
Lawrence Levine, was among the victims, said the murders had
intensified her belief that the country needed stricter gun laws.
Paasch was not on campus that morning because she slept through her
alarm; she has spent the past week tilting between grief, guilt and a
fear of returning to school.
“No kind of gun control is going to stop everything,” Ms.
Paasch said. “But in a situation like this, it could have saved 10
lives.” Read More: