When people think of Oregon, they often believe it is a liberal state. In many ways, it is. The state consistently leans Democrat in elections and visit an organic grocery store in Eugene and you will witness an endless supply of Prius-driving granola-munchers.
However, much of Oregon is conservative. Portland and Eugene are the main hubs of liberal activity and, unfortunately, these population centers tend to drive the politics of Oregon. However, drive outside of Portland and Eugene and what will begin to emerge is a healthy supply of NRA bumper stickers and camo-wearers.
Roseburg is like this. The former logging community has been devastated by EPA regulations that have made it all but impossible to maintain the kind of jobs that were so prevalent up until the mid-90’s. Still, much of Roseburg is blue-collar and these folks don’t enjoy their recent tragedy being used as evidence of a supposed need for more laws that only burden law-abiding citizens.
I should know; I’m one of them. Roseburg is my hometown and while I now live a short distance away, it will always be home — my community.
Our sheriff is a courageous man named John Hanlin, a man who has sworn to uphold the law of the land. To demonstrate his commitment to upholding the law, he has promised to not enforce the recently rammed-through Oregon law that prohibits private sales of firearms. (Technically, “private sales” are still legal so long as they come with a background check- thus making them not “private sale” at all).
He even sent a letter to Vice President Biden announcing that the actions being pushed by this administration against gun rights were “offending the constitutional rights of [Douglas County] citizens.”
The sheriff’s sentiment is hardly unique. Though there are liberals within the Douglas County border, the vast majority are not. Many within the community carry concealed firearms and it is not entirely uncommon to encounter an open-carrier from time to time.
We carry not because we expect trouble; we carry because, as the recent shooting at UCC demonstrates, trouble can find people anytime and anywhere.
Our residents understand this. Since the attack at Umpqua Community College, residents like J.C. Smith have announced that such “gun-free” zones (as UCC is) only offer a target-rich environment for psychos. Smith said that “barring people from carrying guns on campus made it particularly vulnerable to a ‘lone wolf’ attack.”
Casey Runyan, a disabled Marine, declared on Thursday that he carries a Glock “everywhere he goes.” He added, “All my friends agree with me. That’s the only kind of friends I have.”
I, too, carry a Glock (although I’ve been known to mix it up at times). I have never had to pull it and I hope it stays that way. That’s the point of a concealed weapon in the hands of a law-abiding citizen; if you see me pull my gun, it’s because trouble has found us and whether we’re in a “gun-free” zone or not, in that moment, you’ll thank God that there is a “good guy with a gun” in your presence.
One thing to consider, however: though I legally-owned several handguns, I did not carry a concealed firearm when I attended UCC. Why? Because in Oregon, a person is only eligible for a concealed carry permit after they have reached the age of 21. Many of those who attend a community college are between the ages of 18 and 20 (I graduated with my associates from UCC when I was 20).
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So, violating a “gun-free” zone is one thing, but violating the law is another. Many of the students who were victimized in Thursday’s horrific shooting likely never had the opportunity to carry a weapon not only because of the “gun-free” policy of UCC, but because doing so would have been a felony.
In this view, it’s clear that Oregon must pass constitutional carry provisions that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms without the unconstitutional burden of obtaining a permit- a permit that is not available to 18, 19 and 20-year-olds.