The horrific mass shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg made national news and has students within the state questioning what could be done to prevent another tragedy. Ten people were killed when a gunman opened fire at U.C.C on Thursday. Seven other people were injured, and the shooter is dead, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told reporters. Earlier estimates had put the number of people hurt much higher. Multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. Investigators have interviewed members of his family and friends, they said. Authorities credited a quick response by law enforcement for keeping the death toll from climbing higher. A law enforcement official said the shooter had body armor with him and was heavily armed, with a large amount of ammunition — enough for a prolonged gunfight.
After the news went viral in the early afternoon, worry from students as well as out-of-state parents grew with the information that was being released by major news sites. “We’ve been receiving calls through the main switchboard from concerned parents making sure that there is nothing to be worried about,” said head of public relations Ryan Brown.
Though Southern Oregon University has had few threats in its long history, the school tries to remain vigilant in its procedures to keep students safe. Brown said that in addition to the 24 hour-a-day Campus Public Safety patrols there is also an Emergency Management Team that is constantly meeting to train for crisis situations. While SOU CPS enlists 5 supervisor officers and 6 students in their security, like the officer at UCC, none of them are armed. The ever relevant issue of gun-control once again surfaces following these situations as mixed views about bringing more fire power to the campus is weighed. “I don’t know how I feel about the campus officers being armed, though. I know gun control is a very touchy subject” said Kayle Blackmore, who only recently moved to Ashland. “Hearing about the shooting being so close is a wake up call and it’s scary how relevant it is,” the freshman stated.
Ryan Brown states that currently there are no plans of issuing firearms to the campus safety officers but SOU student Dylan Bloom feels that without guns, CPS is inadequately prepared for dangerous situations. “I think it’s a travesty that the school mandates they wear Kevlar vests but not firearms,” said Bloom, “ We are telling our campus safety officers it is more acceptable for the campus, that they can get shot but not defend themselves.” Bloom has been passionate about this issue for awhile now, as almost one year ago a group he organized received national attention for their outspoken demonstration on campus in favor of concealed carry. While the focus of their efforts was to exercise freedom of speech, phase two of the plan was a step towards reexamining gun laws on the open campus.
Currently, all students must sign a code of conduct when they first come to SOU stating that they won’t bring guns to the school. However, citizens not bound to the agreement are still allowed to pass through the campus carrying either concealed or openly in compliance with Oregon state law.
On Thursday evening President Obama addressed the nation in regards to the day’s tragic accident. Speaking in a monotone but passionate voice, the president called American citizens to action stating a need to elect someone who will change gun laws once his final term is up. “Somehow, this has become routine,” Obama said. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine … we’ve become numb to this.”