The mother of the 26-year-old man who massacred nine people Thursday at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College reportedly bragged in the past about the stash of weapons she was stockpiling in anticipation of stricter gun laws.
Laurel Harper, a nurse and the mother of Chris Harper Mercer, identified by news outlets as the Oregon shooter, was open about her love of guns, according to an acquaintance who hired Harper to care for her sick son.
“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,” Shelly Steele told the New York Daily News.
Harper told Steele’s husband that she purchased new guns a few weeks ago and took her son with her to shoot them, she said.
“If you know your son has mental health issues, do you encourage a fascination with guns?” Steele added, as quoted by the Daily News.
Vocativ also uncovered a comment on a Facebook thread about open carry laws that appeared to be authored by Harper.
“It’s ridiculously easy to understand the apprehension associated with open carry. I moved from So. Calif. to Oregon, from Southern Crime-a-mania to open carry. An open carry law won’t work everywhere,” Harper wrote in September 2014, according to the report. “And 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.”
Harper and her son moved from Torrance, California to Oregon several years ago, according to The Associated Press. Vocativ was unable to reach her for comment.
Investigators recovered five pistols and a rifle at the college in addition to two rifles, four pistols and a shotgun at Harper Mercer’s apartment, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Another handgun was later recovered from the apartment, where he lived with his mother, bringing the total number of weapons seized to 14. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that those weapons were purchased legally.
But if the gunman’s father had his way, his son would never have had access to those weapons in the first place.
“I’m not trying to say that that’s what to blame for what happened,” Ian Mercer told CNN on Saturday. “But if Chris had not been able to get a hold of 13 guns, it wouldn’t have happened.”