Oregon college shooting renews debate over gun control laws

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SEATTLE -- The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., has renewed the debate over gun control.

One victim’s family released a statement Friday saying they didn’t want to turn the tragedy into a gun issue. But President Barack Obama says this should be a call to action to pass stronger laws.

Renee Hopkins is a survivor of gun violence. So hearing about another mass shooting in our country brings up some painful memories.

“It certainly does, but I am not unique,” said Hopkins, executive director of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “There are so many people who have been impacted by gun violence in our entire country.”

She said shootings like the one in Oregon should be a wake-up call.

“We need to do something, we need to act.”

Obama agrees. On Friday, he spoke out again about the failed attempts to pass gun control legislation after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

“We couldn’t even get a full vote. And why is that? It’s because of politics.”

But gun rights advocates say more laws aren’t the answer.

“We already have over 22,500 laws on the books that regulate the ownership, use and possession of firearms,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. “What makes you think one more is going to solve the problem?”

He said Obama has been pushing for background checks and assault weapons bans. He doesn’t think either of those measures could have prevented the Roseburg shooting.

“He had multiple guns that weren't assault weapons and he went through background checks multiple times to buy the firearms.”

Gottlieb said the country needs to focus on mental health issues. Obama says it’s not that easy.

“We can’t sort through and identify who might take actions like this. The only thing we can do is make sure they can’t get an entire arsenal when something snaps in them.”

Hopkins believes tragedies like the one in Oregon can be avoided in the future, if everyone agrees it is a priority.

“It’s a national crisis in our country and we need research, we need laws, we need leaders to impact the problem.”

She said she is encouraged that Washington voters passed Initiative 594 last year, which requires background checks on private sales and transfers of guns, and that  Seattle leaders voted for a gun violence tax that will fund research and prevention programs. She hopes the rest of the country follows suit.