Like many Americans, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) took to social media to post his reaction to the mass shooting last week at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. Ramsey’s Facebook post Friday focused on one aspect of the tragedy: that the gunman reportedly asked his victims whether they were Christian and then shot them if they answered yes.
Ramsey’s solution? “Fellow Christians who are serious about their faith” should “think about getting a handgun permit.” He included a link to a state government Web site instructing residents on how they can acquire such a permit.
“The recent spike in mass shootings across the nation is truly troubling,” wrote Ramsey, the speaker of the Tennessee Senate. “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West.”
He continued: “While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare.” Then, he added: “Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise.”
The shooting rampage on the rural campus in southwest Oregon left 10 dead, including gunman Chris Harper Mercer. Police recovered 14 guns from Mercer’s apartment and the crime scene, and authorities said he had a fascination with weaponry.
Investigators have said little publicly about Mercer’s motives. Several eyewitnesses relayed accounts that Harper specifically asked people whether they were Christians before shooting them.
Previous stories of school shooters targeting Christians have gained widespread attention, most notably two girls killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Initial reports about the circumstances surrounding their deaths were later questioned.
Ramsey’s call for Christians to arm themselves in the wake of a mass shooting drew rebuke from some of his colleagues in the Tennessee statehouse. State Rep. Jon Ray Clemmons (D) said in a statement that 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.”
Recent mass shooters have various motives but targets same: Christians & defenders of the West. Time to prepare. https://t.co/KFlIasjId2
— Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (@RonRamsey) October 2, 2015