(AP/Susan Walsh)

Conservative Oregon newspaper warns President Obama he's "not welcome" to meet with Umpqua shooting victims

Right-wing Roseburg publisher complains to Bill O'Reilly that Obama will "stand on the corpses of our loved ones"


Sophia Tesfaye
October 6, 2015 8:41PM (UTC)

Already scheduled to be in the Pacific Northwest for a fundraiser on behalf of Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, President Obama will stop in Roseburg, Oregon to meet with the grieving families of the victims of last week's deadly gun massacre at Umpqua Community College, a White House official confirmed to NBC News today.

But even when reports of President Obama's visit to the scene of America's latest mass shooting were still just rumors, at least one Roseburg leader was sounding the alarm against a presidential visit, complaining that Obama had politicize the tragedy by mentioning gun control measures during his initial remarks.

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David Jaques, publisher of the conservative newspaper the Roseburg Beacon, turned to Breitbart.com earlier this week to make a stink about a potential Obama visit. Jacques called President Obama's remarks "inappropriate" and "disrespectful" before arguing that any visit by the president would be “a campaign stop for an agenda to take away American citizen’s right to own firearms.”

"The President has no connection with the community. He has no connection with any of the families," Jaques told Breitbart before eventually launching into a defense of controversial Sheriff John Hanlin -- an opponent of gun control and reported Sandy Hook truther.

Then on Monday night's “The O’Reilly Factor,” host Bill O'Reilly invited Jaques on to explain to viewers how residents of Roseburg would greet President Obama.

Residents of Roseburg don't want the President Obama to "grandstand for political purposes," Jaques said, citing again President Obama's calls for stricter gun control:

When the President opened his press conference, we still haven't finished counting the bodies on the campus right behind me. We haven't identified whose children were killed and whose were not. And even at that same moment, he was saying, "Some people will accuse me of politicizing this issue." And he goes on to say, "But it should be." So he's not only acknowledged that it could be politicize, but was doing so deliberately.

So now he wants to come to our community and stand on the corpses of our loved ones to make some kind of political point. And it isn't going to be well received not by our people not by our families and not even by our elected officials.

The family of at least one shooting victim agrees with Jaques, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper that President Obama's focus on gun control after mass shootings is misguided.

“Look where the problem really lies, and quit running the agenda––quit running the gun agenda," Jessy Atkinson, whose sister Cheyenne Fitzgerald was injured by the gunman's bullets, said on Monday. "It’s not the problem. It’s mental health in America,” he argued.

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His mother, Bonnie Schaan, suggested that if her daughter had a gun she would have been better able to protect herself against the gunman. "America we need to pack guns–if this is what it’s coming to–to have to protect ourselves.”

“(The President) is our best salesman," local area gun dealer Candi Kinney told Oregon Public Broadcasting, “gun sales have gone through the roof since he started talking.”

Watch Jaques's warning to President Obama:

Huckabee: 'Sin and Evil' to Blame for School Shootings


Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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