Thursday’s mass shooting may have taken place in Oregon only because California, where shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer previously lived with his mother, had stricter gun laws — at least according to an online posting made by a woman believed to be Laurel Harper, the shooter’s mom, who appears to have been a gun enthusiast who owned an arsenal of weapons, according to an investigation by the New York Daily News.
The revelations also raise the question of whether the shooter’s mother may have supplied him with any of the weapons he used in the Oregon mass shooting. Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Salinas Nunez said on Thursday that of the 13 guns found in Christopher Harper-Mercer’s possession, at least some were purchased legally by other family members.
Harper-Mercer, who reportedly died in a pre-planned suicide after murdering nine people at Umpqua Community College and wounding seven more, moved with his mother to Oregon two years ago, from Torrance, California.
“I moved from So. Calif. to Oregon, from Southern Crime-a-mania to open carry,” Harper said in the Facebook posting uncovered by the news site Vocativ.com.
In the same posting, the woman lists the various makes and models of guns she claims to own.
“When the mood strikes, and as long as we’re tossing around brand names, I sling an AR, Tek-9 or AK over my shoulder, or holster a Glock 21 (not 22), or one of my other handguns, like the Sig Sauer P226, and walk out the door. I find the shotguns are a little too cumbersome to open carry, ” she wrote in the online comment posted in September of 2014.
Harper-Mercer’s parents are divorced and his father, Ian Mercer, still lives in California. On Saturday, he told CNN that he was shocked that his son — whom he said he had not seen since the move to Oregon — was a gun owner, much less the owner of 13 firearms.
“I had no idea he had any guns. I have no idea that he had any guns whatsoever,” Mercer told the news network. “And I’m a great believer you don’t buy guns, don’t buy guns, you don’t buy guns.”
The Oregon shooting suspect’s mother, however, apparently disagreed, and also appears to have passed on her enthusiasm for firearms to her son. A New York Times investigation into the Oregon shooter’s history found that while he rarely interacted with neighbors, he could become effusive if the conversation turned to the subject of guns.
“When we talked about guns and hunting, he was real open about it,” one neighbor, Louie Flores, 32, told the New York Times. “But anything about what was going on in his life, he really didn’t say too much at all.”
Another acquaintance, Shelly Steele, told the New York Daily News that Harper-Mercer’s mother took him shooting on gun ranges — but preferred ranges with minimum supervision.
“She said she had multiple guns and believed wholeheartedly in the Second Amendment and wanted to get all the guns she could before someone outlawed them,” Steele said. “My husband is an avid hunter and former military, so she would talk to him about it all the time, how she liked to take her son shooting.”
Steele added that the Oregon shooter’s mom rejected a gun range near to Umpqua Community College because it required that customers be accompanied by a range master, and Laurel Harper “didn’t like anyone watching.”
But Steele also told the paper that Harper had spoken to her about her son’s mental health issues, and Steele found it “strange,” therefore, that she would “encourage a fascination with guns.” That fascination appears to have culminated in the Oregon mass shooting, carried out by Christopher Harper-Mercer.
[Images: Scott Olson / Getty Images / CNN Screen Capture / MySpace]