An angry President Barack Obama demanded the American people push Congress to pass “common sense” gun laws after a gunman murdered 10 people Thursday and wounded seven at an Oregon college.
A grim Obama appeared on television hours after the shootings to remind the nation that the majority of Americans, including law-abiding gun owners, want tougher laws.
He said Americans have become numb to what has become routine in the U.S. — a mass shooting, followed by his White House statements, and the response by those who oppose more gun control. He said the argument that more guns make people safer cannot be done with a straight face.
Obama appealed to voters to remember who supports and opposes gun laws in next year’s elections.
Details of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on the U.S. Pacific coast, remain unclear, including the exact number of victims.
But Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin confirmed that the shooter was killed exchanging gunfire with police. Hanlin said the 20-year-old gunman opened fire in one of the classrooms and police immediately responded to emergency telephone calls.
At a news conference late Thursday, Hanlin said, “we think we know who the shooter is,” but added that he will never use the shooter’s name. He said, “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.” He encouraged members of the media to avoid using, repeating, or sensationalizing the shooter’s name.
The interim president of the college, Rita Cavin, appeared at the same news conference to offer her condolences to the families of the victims and “the families of anybody who was hurt today, emotionally or physically.” She said “this has been a long, sad, tragic day” at the college and thanked the many people she said rushed to the aid of the school and its students and staff.
The sheriff said many law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are involved in the investigation. Officials are making sure the campus is safe and looking for a motive.
Authorities believe the gunman was familiar with the college and the building. They also say he wrote on a social media website about what he was planning to do. One survivor told reporters that the shooter demanded to know the religion of everyone in the classroom before he started shooting.
But investigators believe this was a case of domestic terrorism with no ties to any international group.
Sheriff Hanlin called Thursday’s incident a “huge shock” to the quiet rural county, where few residents are strangers.
About 3,000 students attend Umpqua Community College. Fifty-eight percent of them are female. Most of the students are 30 and older who go to the school part-time to prepare to change careers.
In another incident Thursday, a gunman in Inglis, Florida, was reported to have killed three people, including himself, in a confrontation at a private home. At least one other person was reported injured.