by Max Brantley
A veteran who says he was carrying a concealed weapon on the UCC campus Thursday when 26-year-old Christopher Harper Mercer went on a murderous rampage, says he didn’t intervene because he knew police SWAT team members wouldn’t know him from the shooter.ALSO: Announced Democratic candidate Dianne Curry, a challenger to Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, called on Hill to introduce legislation aimed at curbing gunviolence. I don't believe she'll be holding her breath for Hill action, but expects NRA pushback. Her release:
In an interview with MSNBC, vet John Parker said he knows lots of students who conceal carry at the school because, despite a school policy that discourages weapons on campus, Oregon state law does allow it.
...Parker explained that his military training provided him with the skills to “go into danger,” but said he felt lucky he and others didn’t try to get involved going after Mercer.
“Luckily we made the choice not to get involved,” he explained. “We were quite a distance away from the building where this was happening. And we could have opened ourselves up to be potential targets ourselves, and not knowing where SWAT was, their response time, they wouldn’t know who we were. And if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think that we were bad guys.”
Dianne Curry, Democrat, challenged her opponent French Hill, Republican, to co-sponsor a bill that will protect Americans from future gun violence.
"In the last election, my opponent, made a big deal out of the fact he supports the privilege for Americans to own private weapons. He made gun ownership a central issue as to why he should be elected. After too many individuals have misused that privilege, I am asking him to take action - bold action today to protect Americans. Now is the time for us as Americans to act and to prevent another massacre. As an active member of the AME Church we are still reeling, still mourning, still overcoming after a disturbed young man came into a church ..... a sanctuary and place of worship to God and massacred individuals who came to worship God. An elementary school, a movie theater, a church, and now a community college. How many more Americans have to die before we say NOW is the time to act," said Curry.
Curry also believes Hill, as a strong proponent of gun ownership, can show leadership by stepping up and speaking out for stronger and bolder laws.
"French Hill made responsible gun ownership a key to why he should be elected in 2014. In the Civil Rights Movement, it took a white, Southerner as President to finally push through strong and effective and lasting civil rights laws and protections. Now is the time for French Hill to choose between We the Politicians or WE THE PEOPLE," said Curry.
Curry believes Congress needs to increase funding for mental health, close the loopholes in gun purchasing, and utilize other means to limit access to weapons.
"We need to focus on a lot more in this issue than just guns. We have to recognize as a society this is a mental health issue. In Arkansas, I was impressed by the efforts of former First Lady Ginger Beebe to tackle mental health issues. We also need to close the doughnut hole that exists in purchasing guns. If you go to Wal-Mart, you have to pass a background check and there is a Federally-mandated waiting period. But there's a loophole that after 72 hours the sale can go through even if the background check doesn't come back. These safeguards are not at all in places like at gun shows. Often we have individuals who are selling weapons and then if that weapon is sold to someone else and used in a bad way, these individuals are not held accountable who provided the weapons in the first place. We have plenty of effective laws on the book but we lack in Congress the moral authority to enforce many of them. My opponent talks about defending the 2nd Amendment, I am talking about defending life," said Curry.
Curry said she realizes the NRA is liable to target her campaign for her stance.
"I welcome Wayne LaPierre and the NRA to try to skew the facts, lie about me and my record, and to waste countless money trying to defeat me. The more they use to defeat me, the less they can use to lobby politicians to make bad decisions. The money from the NRA is blood money, tainted by Columbine, Sandy Hook, Emanuel AME, and now Umpqua. I don't want their money and my opponent, French Hill should return that money as well. Maybe he can sleep at night taking money from an organization that has allowed so many mentally ill individuals to take weapons and murder so many innocent people .... but I could not and I will not. As a member of Congress, I will do more than just pray for victims. As an active member of my church, I realize prayer without action is empty. I am called by my faith to stand up, speak up, and stand in the gap. I am going to Congress to protect life, to protect Americans from mentally ill individuals misusing weapons. I don't believe the government should take away the guns. But I don't think our government should take away lives either," said Curry.
Curry was elected to the Little Rock School Board in 2006 where she served three terms. She retired from state government after 27 years of service in education and the public audit of banks. She was appointed to the Arkansas Division of Volunteerism by Governor Huckabee and reappointed by Governor Beebe. Curry now works with small business owners and families as a tax consultant.