Sheriff maintains support for gun rights after mass shooting

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Student Describes Chaotic Moments After Oregon College Shooting

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) -- 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.

READ MORE: An Army veteran who survived combat was shot several times as he charged at the Oregon gunman

"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.

"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.

Retired U.S. Army nurse Donice "Maggie Rose" Smith, who also hosts a talk show on Internet radio, said she and her husband, a retired Army captain, chose Douglas County for their retirement because of a low crime rate, and strong local support for First and Second Amendment Rights.

Photos from the scene of the tragic shooting:

33 PHOTOS
Oregon school shooting, scene photos
See Gallery
Sheriff maintains support for gun rights after mass shooting

Chris Harper-Mercer, 26

Photo via Myspace 

Authorities respond to a report of a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via AP)
Police search students outside Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, following a deadly shooting at the college. (Mike Sullivan/Roseburg News-Review via AP)
Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, after a deadly shooting. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review via AP)
Authorities carry a shooting victim away from the scene after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Mike Sullivan/Roseburg News-Review via AP)
Authorities move from building to building to secure the campus at Umpqua Community College after a report of a deadly shooting, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review via AP) 
Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. after a deadlyshooting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via AP) 
Members of law enforcement have a meeting at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
People hold signs for free rides as friends and family wait for students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Friends and family leave the county fairgrounds in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, following a deadly shooting at nearby Umpqua Community College. Students and faculty were bused to the fairgrounds where counselors were available and some parents waited for their children. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Hannah Miles, a student at Umqua Community College, looks outward during an interview in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Miles says she was in the classroom next door to a deadly shooting on the campus. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Friends and family are reunited with students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
A woman is comforted as friends and family wait for students at the local fairgrounds after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
People gather at a road block near the entrance to Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, following a deadly shooting at the campus. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Friends and family are reunited with students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
People wait for information at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
A woman is comforted as friends and family wait for students at the local fairgrounds after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
A woman speaks on her cellphone as friends and family are reunited with students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Friends and family are reunited with students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Hannah Miles, center, is reunited with her sister Hailey Miles, left, and father Gary Miles, right, after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
People wait for information at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Two woman wait outside Umpqua Community College campus after a shooting at the school in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Map locates Roseburg, Oregon, where a shooting took place; 1c x 2 inches; with BC-US--Oregon School Shooting; ETA 4 p.m. ; 3c x 3 1/2 inches; 146 mm x 88 mm;
People wait for information at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Police search students outside Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, following a deadly shooting at the southwestern Oregon community college. (Mike Sullivan/Roseburg News-Review via AP)
A bullet casing is marked at the scene of a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review via AP)
Paramedics return to their ambulances after delivering patients to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Aaron Yost/Roseburg News-Review via AP)
A patient is wheeled into the emergency room at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Aaron Yost/Roseburg News-Review via AP)
Journalist raises their hands as White House Press secretary Josh Earnest speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Earnest responded to a report of multiple shootings at Umpqua Community College in central Oregon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., about 180 miles south of Portland. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

J.C. Smith said barring people from carrying guns on campus made it particularly vulnerable to a "lone wolf" attack.

"With current world events, (armed people) would keep the ground safer," he said.

Twenty five years after Oregon's timber industry went into a tailspin as protection for the northern spotted owl reduced national forest logging and automation took over jobs, the region still counts timber as a major part of its economy, but now wineries draw in tourists.

Umpqua Community College offers courses ranging from nursing to the wine industry, said interim President Rita Cavin.

Cavin said the college has a policy of no guns on campus, but did not feel the need for an armed security presence.

"This is an anomaly and a tragedy," she said of the shooting.

At a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting, former student Sam Sherman said Roseburg was a "poor town, a mill town."

"People don't generally aspire to greater things here. So having a place you can go to do that is a big deal. For something that terrible to happen at such a small school is frustrating," he said.

More from AOL.com:
Bon Jovi honors high school football player who died
Homeowners fined for flying American flag
Nurse breastfeeds baby who won't stop crying before surgery
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners