Bush rejects calls for more gun laws
The 2016 presidential candidate says none of Obama’s proposals would’ve stopped recent massacres.
HENDERSON, Nev. — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pushed back Saturday against calls from President Obama and other Democrats for stricter gun control laws in the wake of the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church that left nine people dead.
Bush, who traveled to this Las Vegas suburb for a town hall event, said he does not believe tougher gun laws would prevent mass shootings.
“All of these tragic instances that have taken place in the last couple of years are heartbreaking. They really are,” Bush said in response to an attendee’s question about his views on the 2nd Amendment. “Not a single one of them would have been stopped with any of the ideas proposed by Barack Obama. Not a single one of them.”
Bush, one of the frontrunners in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said more emphasis should be placed on improving access to mental health services.
His comments come ahead of a Monday visit to Charleston, where Bush plans to meet with black ministers.
Obama spoke again of gun control on Friday, in a eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a pastor and state senator who was among the victims of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation,” the president said. “The vast majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners, want to do something about this. We see that now.”
After the December 2012 shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Obama called for Congress to mandate universal background checks for gun buyers. That measure faltered, though several states passed stricter laws, including Connecticut and Colorado, where a gunman had killed 12 at a movie theater in July 2012.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, in recent days has called for universal background checks, saying the “politics on the issue have been poisoned.”
Several national surveys have shown wide support for universal background checks.
Bush has received strong support from the National Rifle Assn. As Florida governor, he signed the controversial “stand your ground” law that received attention in the wake of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
On Saturday, Bush said gun laws should be a state issue.
“In Florida, we had background checks. State by state, I think, these things get sorted out based on tradition, based on the differences in our states,” he told reporters after the town hall meeting.
Bush said he supported a Florida law that requires background checks on some gun sales.
In Florida, he said, “we’ve created a balance that’s focused on lowering gun violence, but protecting the 2nd Amendment.”
JEB BUSH greets attendees after a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nev. He will travel to Charleston, S.C., on Monday to meet with black ministers.