Jeff Barnard/AP
October 02, 2015 08:00 AM

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, the official who is leading the investigation into the Umpqua Community College shooting, is a staunch opponent of gun control, according to a letter he sent to Vice President Joe Biden just after the Newtown school shooting.

“Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings,” Hanlin wrote in an impassioned letter dated Jan. 15, 2013.

He continued: “Any actions against, or in disregard for our U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights by the current administration would be irresponsible and an indisputable insult to the American people.”

Hanlin went on to write that he would not enforce any gun control laws or executive orders from the Obama administration. “It is my position as Sheriff of Douglas County, Oregon that I will refuse to participate in, nor tolerate enforcement actions against citizens that are deemed unconstitutional.”

When asked about this letter on the Today show, Hanlin said that his focus is on the victims and he did not address his views on gun control.

On Thursday, alleged 26-year-old gunman Chris Harper Mercer opened fire at the rural college in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine and injuring seven more. Mercer was killed after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement officials.

While speaking at a news conference Thursday evening, Hanlin insisted that he would never speak Mercer’s name. “I will not name the shooter,” Hanlin said. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. You will never hear me mention his name.

“We would encourage media to avoid using it, to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims, on the families, helping them get through this difficult time.”

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