Strong support for guns in town shocked by killings
Published 10:04 am Friday, October 2, 2015
ROSEBURG, Ore. — Hunting deer, elk and bear in the surrounding hills and fishing for salmon and steelhead have strong followings in southern Oregon’s timber country, made famous by Western writer Zane Gray, who counted the North Umpqua River his favorite place to fish.
So does support for the right to own and carry a gun.
“I carry to protect myself — the exact same reason this happened,” said Casey Runyan, referring to the deadly shootings Thursday at Umpqua Community College. Runyan carries a Glock 29 automatic pistol everywhere he goes.
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“All my friends agree with me. That’s the only kind of friends I have,” said Runyan, a disabled Marine Corps veteran who says he carried a machine gun in the infantry in Iraq.
The county’s top law enforcement officer, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, spoke out against state and federal gun-control legislation last year, telling a legislative committee that mandating background checks for private, person-to-person gun sales would not prevent criminals from getting firearms.
Hanlin also sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden in 2013, after the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school. Hanlin said he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions “offending the constitutional rights of my citizens.”
Hanlin told CNN on Friday that his position on gun control had not changed following Thursday’s shooting.