Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey responded to the mass shooting at an Oregon community college in a Facebook post Friday saying that “fellow Christians” should consider getting a handgun carry permit to protect themselves.
In his Facebook posting, Ramsey, who is also speaker of the Tennessee senate, said the recent spate of mass shootings around the nation is “truly troubling.”
The Blountville Republican said, "whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West."
"I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit," Ramsey wrote. "I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it. Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise."
Ramsey provided a link on how to obtain a handgun permit in Tennessee at the end of his posting. The Tennessean reported that Ramsey also posted a link to a New York Post article with the headline “Oregon gunman singled out Christian during rampage.” He also seemed to group other mass shootings with Thursday’s Oregon shooting.
Democratic state Rep. John Ray Clemmons of Nashville said in a statement Ramsey’s comments “reek of fear mongering and religious crusading.”
"There is an eerie absence of logic in his statement that ties one's Christian faith to firearms ownership that is offensive to all religions," Clemmons said. "Senator Ramsey is essentially saying that we should all run out and get a handgun carry permit to prove how serious we are about our Christian faith."
Authorities say Christopher Harper Mercer killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg before he was killed in exchange of gunfire with police. Witnesses said the gunman specifically targeted Christians.
Kortney Moore, 18, told the Roseburg News-Review that she was in a writing class when one shot came through the window. Moore said she saw her teacher get shot in the head. The shooter reportedly told the students to get on the ground before asking people to stand up and state their religion. He then began firing. Moore said she was lying on the ground with people who had been shot.
Janet Willis told the Los Angeles Times that her 18-year-old granddaughter, Ana Boylan, had been shot in the back. Willis said Boyland told her that the gunman asked others in the classroom to rise and state their religion.
"If they said they were Christians, they were shot again," Willis said. "[Boylan and another wounded girl] just laid on the ground and pretended they were dead."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.