by Joseph P. Tartaro,
Early this summer one major polling firm found that a majority of Americans didn’t want gun control to be a major issue during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Yet the Oct. 1 community college shooting in Oregon seems to have launched at least some candidates into making the gun law issue a major debate item.
While other candidates of both major parties responded to reporter questions, Hillary Clinton made a major, detailed statement going well beyond almost anything even President Obama said about pushing for more gun control legislation. In a New Hampshire gathering just five days after the shooting, Clinton went even further, detailing what she would do by executive action.
Obama, who announced he planned to visit the site of the tragic shooting, renewed his call for stricter gun laws and expressed exasperation at the frequency of mass shootings in the US.
In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton unveiled a series of gun control measures she would enact as president, including renewed calls for universal background checks that would include private transfers as well as Internet sales, preventing gun sales from going through without completed background checks (something currently dubbed a “Charleston Loophole”); legislation that prohibits domestic abusers and stalkers from buying and possessing guns, and repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act so that dealers and manufacturers can be sued for negligence when crimes are committed with products they’ve sold.
After rolling out her policies, the Democratic presidential candidate invited the mother of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to join her on stage at Manchester Community College.
The Associated Press noted that announcement of Clinton’s plan came two days after the Democratic presidential candidate blasted Republicans for putting “the NRA ahead of American families,” and just hours after her Democratic challenger, Martin O’Malley, called on both Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to back his plan, which includes a ban on assault weapons.
Sanders, who is currently polling ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire, has not rolled out a gun control policy and has voted for and against some gun control legislation..
Clinton claimed her plan was filled with what she calls “common sense proposals” to combat what she described as an “epidemic of gun violence.”
“People are quick to say that they offer their thoughts and prayers. That’s not enough,” Clinton said to the roughly 500 Granite Staters in attendance at the campaign event. “How many people have to die before we actually act? Before we come together as a nation.”
Clinton, who said that the gun control issue has been taken over by “extremists,” renewed her call for universal background checks, ignoring the fact that the Roseburg shooter, and almost all of the other murderers in similar mass shooting sprees, had acquired firearms legally by going through the background checks others want to expand.
Meanwhile, more was being learned about 26-year-old gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people and wounded nine more at Umpqua Community College during a murderous few minutes before taking his own life during a shoot-out with police.
In writings he left behind, he said that everyone else was “crazy” and ranted about not having a girlfriend, according to an Oregon law enforcement official.
The unidentified police spokesman also said the mother of 26-year-old gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer has told investigators he was struggling with some mental health issues. The official is familiar with the investigation but wasn’t authorized to speak publically because it is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the killer’s father, a native of Great Britain who lives in California, blamed the shooting on the availability of guns.
“Ideally, what I would love to see,” Clinton said, “Is gun owners, responsible gun owners, hunters, form a different organization and take back the second amendment from the extremists.”
Following the Oregon shooting, there has been a debate about “gun-free zones.” But while Umpqua Community College is officially gun free and it’s lone campus security officer is unarmed, some people on campus, but not in the building where the shooting took place, were armed during the incident. Oregon state law allows people with concealed carry licenses to carry even in what otherwise are officially gun free zones.
Now that Clinton has focused on gun control, it is sure to come up in debates and candidate forums.