ROSEBURG, Ore., Oct. 9 (UPI) — President Barack Obama made good Friday on his pledge to visit families of last week’s shooting victims at a community college in Oregon — a trip that many have questioned.
Obama arrived in the town of Roseburg — located about 180 miles south of Portland — at about 12:30 p.m. local time Friday. There, he met with relatives of the nine people killed and nine wounded at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1.
“Obviously, in moments like these, words aren’t going to bring their loved ones back,” Obama said. “But the one thing that they shared is how much they appreciate the entire UCC community coming together, how much they appreciate all their neighbors, all their friends and people all across the country who offered to help, who sent their thoughts and their prayers.”
Some questioned whether Obama should make the trip at all, feeling that it might politicize a tragedy. Some community members indicated earlier this week that they did not want Obama to visit and planned to protest his arrival.
“He’s here for a gun grabbing agenda,” one protester told NBC News. “Our town is in mourning. They need to heal before he comes here with his agenda.”
In public remarks after meeting with the families, Obama thanked that same community.
“I want to thank the entire community and the entire state of Oregon for coming together at this terrible time to support the families,” he said.
Some citizens of Oregon, a state popular for its guns rights and outdoors, said they didn’t want Obama to use the tragedy as an opportunity to deliver rhetoric about gun control — something Obama has repeatedly called for.
“I have guns. I intend to keep my guns. If I have to get a smaller clip for my pistol, I’ll do it,” resident John Poole said. “What we have now is worse than irrational — it’s immoral.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Obama said the day of the shootings. “Each time this happens I am going to bring this up. We can do something about it. But we are going to have to change our laws. And this isn’t something I can do my myself.”