White House

Obama meeting with families of Oregon mass shooting

Gary Shamblin of Winston, Ore. prepares to leave a parking lot in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday Oct. 8, 2015, in his 1934 International truck displaying a sign he made reflecting his views on President Obama's planned visit to the area.
Gary Shamblin of Winston, Ore. prepares to leave a parking lot in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday Oct. 8, 2015, in his 1934 International truck displaying a sign he made reflecting his views on President Obama's planned visit to the area. AP

President Barack Obama travels to Oregon today to meet privately with the families of victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting, despite local opposition to efforts to expand gun control.

The visits with family members are behind closed doors, but come amid reports that Obama wants to expand background checks for gun purchasers. The editor of a conservative newspaper earlier this week argued that any visit by the president would be “a campaign stop for an agenda to take away American citizen’s right to own firearms.” And the Douglas County sheriff once wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, threatening not to enforce potential gun restrictions the administration was seeking.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama has made it clear that he will only spend time with the families. Obama a week ago said he planned to politicize the latest mass shooting, saying the U.S. had grown “numb” to a constant spate of gun deaths and that he’d challenge Congress, voters and gun owners to do something about it.

“That's the purpose of the president’s trip, and that's what he’ll do,” Earnest told reporters. Obama, however, is looking at circumventing Congress and using his executive authority to impose new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume gun dealers, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The trip was added to a West Coast swing, with Obama heading to Seattle after the visits for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. He’ll also deliver remarks at an event for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and the Washington State Democratic Party.

He’ll finish the day at another DNC fundraiser in San Francisco -- and will stop Saturday at San Francisco’s storied Warfield Theater for a DNC event that will also feature Kanye West, a man for whom Obama had some choice language.

After that, Obama heads to Los Angeles to raise money for the DNC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – the Hollywood Reporter reports Obama will attend events at the homes of J.J. Abrams and of designer Michael Smith, whose partner is U.S. ambassador to Spain James Costos – before completing the statewide sweep by heading to San Diego for the night.

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