Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said the federal government should be offering gun safety lessons to citizens instead of considering gun control measures.
Carson was asked if the Second Amendment should be up for debate. In response, Carson said it clearly gives the American people the right to bear arms.
“After San Bernardino and what happened in Paris, the current administration’s reaction is too many guns, let’s restrict the guns for the people,” he said at the 2016 Faith and Family Presidential Forum in South Carolina. “The proper response should have been, ‘we now are infiltrated with terrorist cells, the government is going to make available to all America citizens lessons on how to safely use firearms and protect themselves.’ That’s what we should be doing.”
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) said the Second Amendment may not exist if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wins the nomination.
“If Hillary Clinton gets the 4 Supreme Court justices., we’re talking about the Second Amendment won’t exist. It just won’t. I mean there’s a lot riding on this. My view is the 10 amendments is a package deal. Sometimes people say, ‘I like the first but I’m not sure about the second.’ I like them all,” he said. Bush’s remarks came a day before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said if President Obama could get rid of the Second Amendment he would.
“He knows he can’t and he’ll never admit it because he understands a majority of Americans support the Second Amendment. It goes well beyond militia. It’s about the right of everybody in this country if they choose to, to be able to protect their families and their properties from criminals and increasingly from terrorists,” he said. “This is a constitutional right.”
Rubio connected the amount of violence in society to family life.
“When the family is undermined, society doesn’t work. It is the basic nucleus of the entire society, and when family life breaks down values break down, and when values break down the country breaks down,” he said.
Rubio said the U.S. is on a path of decline and the 2016 election is a turning point. Rubio told the audience there are huge differences between the Democrats and the Republicans in the race, singling out Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for calling himself a socialist.
“At least he’s honest about it. We don’t want to be a socialist country. There are literally dozens of socialist countries in the world. If you want to live in a socialist country, move to a socialist country. We want to be America,” he said to cheers from the audience.
Both Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the Guantanamo Bay prison should remain open but Cruz went further.
“I’d like to see as many terrorists as possible take up permanent residence in Gitmo,” he said.
Cruz also called immigration a national security priority and pointed out that every GOP candidate in the race has said they oppose amnesty.
“I think what we should say is, ‘OK, show me your record,’” Cruz said, before referring to the Gang of 8 bill that Rubio worked on with Democratic senators.
“It didn’t secure the borders. It made it easier for Obama to allow Syrian refugees into this country without mandating any meaningful background checks,” he said.
During the forum, Carson said Congress has been misinterpreting the general welfare clause of the Constitution.
“If you read the Constitution, and that’s something they don’t like to do in the government for some strange reason, or maybe they misinterpret it, that could be the problem because for instance when they read the part in government that says promote the general welfare they think that means put everyone on general welfare,” he said.
He called for a reassessment of the criteria for lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.
“When it was decided that federal judges and Supreme Court judges should have lifetime appointments the average age of death was 47 and now it’s 80, so obviously we need to re-examine those criteria,” Carson said. “Also, the Constitution says Supreme Court judges serve as long as they have good behavior. It’s not good behavior when you violate the Constitution, so somebody needs to go back and look at some of this stuff.”
Carson told the audience he views the presidency as a “tremendous opportunity to affect the whole being of the country.”
“It’s a bully pulpit in which you either talk about ways to divide people or ways to bring people together. We are called the United States of America, not the divided states of America, and we have much more common with each other than things that separate us,” he said. “It helps tremendously when you have a president who recognizes that we the American people are not each other’s enemies. The enemies are those who are trying to divide us.”