Oregon school shooting: What's different this time?

The father of the gunman in the Oregon community college tragedy said the shooting 'would not have happened' if his son did not have legal access to so many guns. 

John Locher/AP
People bow their heads in prayer during a vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Ore. The vigil was held in honor of the victims of the fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday.

Will it be different this time?

Of the 294 mass shootings so far in the United States this year, the 294th, the shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Ore., that killed nine on Thursday, has prompted a public reaction that may be slightly different from the “routine” President Barack Obama angrily referred to just hours after the shooting.

The routine said Mr. Obama, “is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation,” he said. “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns,’ they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun-safety laws.’

“Does anybody really believe that?” he asked.

One person who does not is Ian Mercer, the shooter’s father, who said in an interview with CNN the shooting “would not have happened” if his son had not been able to amass so many guns.

“The only thing I would like to say is a question that I would like to ask is how on earth could he compound 13 guns? How could that happen? They talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control but every time something like this happens they talk about it and nothing is done,” Mr. Mercer, whose son killed himself after the shooting, told CNN.

“I’m not trying to say that’s to blame for what happened but if Chris had not been able to get a hold of 13 guns, it wouldn’t have happened.” Mercer also said he had no idea his son had any guns, let alone more than a dozen. Authorities recovered an additional weapon at the shooter’s home, bringing the total to 14.

According to authorities, all of the recovered weapons were legally obtained by the shooter or his family members over the past three years through a federally licensed firearms dealer.

The prevalence of gun ownership in a given state is “significantly associated with state incidence of mass killings with firearms, school shootings, and mass shootings,” according to a study published last July from numbers compiled of mass killings in the US between 2006 to December 2013.

The researchers, primarily from Arizona State University working with FBI homicide data, concluded there is “no significant association” between state incidence of shootings and the prevalence of mental illness in that state, and found no correlation between the strength of firearm legislation and the frequency of shootings. But the researcher did find that firearm regulations that reduce the availability of guns, such as permit and licensing regulations, have a significant deterrent effect on suicide rates.

The public denunciation of using the shooter’s name has also highlighted shifting views.

One of the wounded, Chris Mintz, a US Army veteran who served in Iraq, has been credited with saving lives in Thursday’s shooting, and a social media campaign went viral urging media and the public’s attention to focus on Mr. Mintz, who was shot seven times, instead of the shooter.

A GoFundMe page was set up by Mintz's cousin to raise money for his recovery has received more than $718,000 in donations as of this writing.

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