The various presidential candidates responded to the mass murder Umpqua Community College. Some called for strengthening laws on firearms and some offered prayers. Republican Donald Trump said in the hours after the shootings that claimed 10 lives, "It sounds like another mental health problem. So many of these people, they're coming out of the woodwork," adding, "We have to really get to the bottom of it. It's so hard to even talk about these things, because you see them and it's such a tragedy."
On October 2, he said there are "millions and millions of sick people all over the world" and "You're going to have these things happen and it's a horrible thing to behold, horrible," Trump said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Moreover, said Trump, "It's not politically correct to say that, but you're going to have difficulty and that will be for the next million years, there's going to be difficulty and people are going to slip through the cracks." He added, "What are you going to do, institutionalize everybody?"
In his book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump expressed support for banning “assault weapons,” which in the view of gun control proponents would include the AR-15 rifle. In the 2000 book, he wrote “The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse to even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” When asked by AmmoLand, he walked back from his earlier statement. Said Trump: “I certainly stand by my opposition to Gun Control when it comes to taking guns from law-abiding citizens. You mention that the media describes the AR-15 as an ‘assault rifle,’ which is one example of the many distortions they use to sell their agenda. However, the AR-15 does not fall under this category. Gun-banners are unfortunately preoccupied with the AR-15, magazine capacity, grips, and other aesthetics, precisely because of its popularity.”
Trump insisted that gun control “does not reduce crime. It has consistently failed to stop violence. Americans are entitled to protect their families, their property and themselves.” When asked when wealthy conservatives are not more forceful in support of gun rights, Trump told AmmoLand, “First, many wealthy live behind gates, armed security, and away from crime. They may have little understanding of how fellow citizens are challenged in defending themselves and their property.” A Life Member of the NRA, Trump appreciated the efforts of the group in favor of gun rights. Moreover, Trump said that he is opposed to the universal background checks proposed by President Obama. Said Trump, “I do not support expanding background checks. The current background checks do not work.”
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson also blamed mental illness while rejecting the idea that guns should be more strongly regulated. The Republican candidate said, “Obviously there are going to be those calling for gun control but that happens every time we have one of these incidents. Obviously that’s not the issue." Carson said, "The issue is the mentality of these people. And we need to be looking at the mentality of these individuals and seeing if there are any early warning clues that we can gather that will help us as a society be able to identify these people ahead of time.” Bush says “more government” is not the answer to gun violence and President Obama immediately hits back.
In an October 2 appearance in South Carolina, Jeb Bush in South Carolina argued furthermore gun control measures, following the Oregon shooting. “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everyone else. It’s very sad to see.” Continuing, Bush said, “But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Democrats for gun control
Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said that "sensible gun-control legislation which prevents guns from being used by people who should not have them."
Former Gov. Martin O'Malley wrote on Twitter, "Tweets won't stop this. Thoughts and prayers won't, either. Only real gun reforms will stop mass shootings from occurring nearly every day."
Hillary Clinton said of the shooting, "It is just beyond my comprehension that we are seeing these mass murders happen again and again and again.” Clinton continued: "And as I have said, we have got to get the political will to do everything we can to keep people safe. You know, I know there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence, prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives. And I am committed to doing everything I can to achieve that."
Gun control advocates and progressives have renewed calls for strengthening fire arms measures. On the day of the shooting, White House press secretary Josh Earnest claimed that the "vast majority of Americans" support stricter gun laws, including ending the sale of closing the so-called gun-show loophole. He said that Obama is "realistic" that Congress will not take the action long desired by gun control advocates. Said Earnest: "The president has been quite candid about how this is and has been a source of frustration for him."
Dan Gross, who presides over the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in the wake of the shootings, "We join the rest of the nation in shock, horror, and grief as the news of today’s school shooting in Oregon continues to unfold. What should have been a sanctuary for education and a symbol of bright futures will now become the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic."
Portland State University professor Diana Abu-Jaber wrote at CNN: “We are terrorized by ourselves. College shooters are not swarming here from foreign lands. There is no outside, there is no borderland to arm, and it is the very definition of insanity to imagine that in simply continuing to live as we do -- allowing under-regulated arming of the citizens, a wild escalation of arms throughout the general populace -- things will ever improve.”
And at progressive Daily Kos, Laura Clawson wrote: “President Obama, too, had strong words about the need to actually do something to change this horrific pattern of mass shootings rather than just offering up platitudes and moving on. But as the candidates' responses remind us, the Republican Party is committed to pretending that guns aren't the problem.”