News of Thursday’s deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, quickly reverberated through Congress, the 2016 campaign trail and the White House, with President Barack Obama making the 15th statement of his presidency addressing gun violence.
Obama said “thoughts and prayers” are no longer enough to prevent another mass shooting, calling for more gun-control legislation.
“As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time I see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough,” Obama said from the White House briefing room. “It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does not to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple months from now.”
At least 10 people were killed and seven others were injured in the shooting, according to preliminary information from the Oregon State Police. Thursday night, multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation told CNN the shooter was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, 26. He died at the scene after exchanging gunfire with authorities, and investigators have not yet announced a motive for the attack.
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at the Concordia Summit in New York, said, “We’re basically only the civilized country in the world with so many mass shootings.”
“I want to say, there’s few things worse than getting that phone call saying your child is gone, your child is gone, or your brother, or sister, or husband, or wife,” Biden said, adding later, “The Second Amendment doesn’t say you can own an F-15 with hellfire missiles.”
Biden also tweeted a line from his speech: “The safest place on earth should be our schools and colleges. My thoughts and prayers are with families who lost folks today #UCCShooting”
The Oregon delegation mourns
Members of Congress from across the country and both sides of the aisle quickly expressed their sympathies for those who were killed, but members of the Oregon delegation appeared deeply affected on the Hill and on social media.
Sen. Ron Wyden was visibly shaken as he rushed back to his office at the Dirksen Senate Office Building shortly after the shooting, declining to take questions from reporters.
Wyden later tweeted, “Oregonians everywhere want Roseburg to know we’re praying for them.”
The state’s junior senator, Jeff Merkley, tweeted that he was praying for the victims and their families.
“I am absolutely heartbroken by today’s news,” Merkley later said in a statement. “I have been in touch with local officials to express my deepest condolences and offer my assistance in any way possible and I will continue to monitor this tragedy and its response. The hearts and thoughts of all Oregonians are with the victims, their families and the entire UCC and Roseburg communities.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted that she was thinking about the victims.
The governor later said at a news conference that law enforcement was still uncovering facts.
“We know now that there were casualties and confirmed injuries. Our top priority now is the medical treatment for victims and the security of the campus,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We are holding the community of Douglas County in our hearts today.”
Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio said in a statement that he hopes to work with other lawmakers to prevent similar incidents.
“Today’s shooting in Roseburg is a heartbreaking tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Roseburg’s first responders for their work in responding to the event,” he said. “Once we know more about what happened today, I plan to work with my colleagues in Congress to find ways to prevent tragedies such as these.”
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden called the killings “heartbreaking.”
“Today’s news out of Roseburg is heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy, their families, and the entire community,” he said. “Oregon and the entire nation mourn this senseless loss.”
2016 hopefuls express their condolences
Presidential candidates also commented on the tragedy, with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton calling for “sensible gun control measures” during a campaign stop in Boston.
“It is just beyond my comprehension that we are seeing these mass murders happen again and again and again,” Clinton said. “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.”
But Ben Carson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that more gun control is not the answer.
“Obviously, that’s not the issue,” he said. “The issue is the mentality of these people and we need to be looking at the mentality of the individuals and seeing if there are any early warning clues that we can gather that will help us as a society to be able to identify these people ahead of time.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declined to address the shooting at a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A campaign spokeswoman said they are waiting to “get all of the facts” and he is likely to address the tragedy Friday morning.
Shortly after the news broke, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders called for increased gun-control legislation, improving the mental health system as well toning “down the incredibly high level of gratuitous violence which permeates our media.”
“As a nation, we must do everything we can to put an end to this awful epidemic of senseless slaughter,” Sanders said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also expressed his condolences on Twitter, calling the shooting a “senseless tragedy.”
Real estate mogul Donald Trump extended on Twitter his “warmest condolences to the families of the horrible Roseburg, Oregon, shootings.”
Friday on MSNBC, though, Trump said while the shooting is “horrible,” there is little that can be done to prevent such attacks.
“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,” Trump said.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley tweeted about the victims’ loss while calling for “real gun reforms.”
“Tweets won’t stop this. Thoughts and prayers won’t, either. Only real gun reforms will stop mass shootings from occurring nearly every day,” O’Malley added.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was praying for the victims and their families.
And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also said he was praying for those affected by the shooting.
“My prayers are with everyone in Oregon. May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts,” Huckabee said.
Later Thursday, Huckabee released a statement in which he ripped Obama for making a “political pronouncement” over the shooting, calling his comments “at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory.”
“Obama can shamelessly try and exploit any tragedy he wants, but it’s clear that gun free zones are sitting duck zones,” Huckabee said.