President Obama today lashed out at “crackpot conspiracy theories” saying that he wants more gun control to “stay in power forever or something” or take all Americans’ weapons.
At a press conference to announce the resignation of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama was asked about comments from Jeb Bush on the community college massacre in Roseburg, Ore.
Fielding questions at a South Carolina event today, Bush said of calls for more gun control, “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everyone else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion — and I had this challenge as governor — because we had — look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Bush defended his comments later, saying, “No, it wasn’t a mistake. I said exactly what I said. Why would you explain to me what I said wrong? Things happen all the time — things — is that better?”
Asked about those comments at his press conference, Obama replied, “I don’t even think I have to react to that one.”
“I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgments based on the fact that every couple of months, we have a mass shooting. And in terms of — and — and they can decide whether they consider that ‘stuff happening,'” Obama continued.
The president said he’s asked his team “to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
“Are there additional actions that we can take that might prevent even a handful of these tragic deaths from taking place? But, as I said last night, this will not change until the politics changes and the behavior of elected officials changes,” Obama said. “And so the main thing I’m going to do is I’m going to talk about this on a regular basis. And I will politicize it, because our inaction is a political decision that we are making.”
GOPs went after Obama today for politicizing the tragedy — something he admitted hours after the shooting that he was doing to bring legislative attention to gun control measures. “Obviously, there are those who are going to be calling for gun control,” Ben Carson told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Obviously, that’s not the issue. The issue is the mentality of these people.”
“What I worry about is when we get to the point were we say we need to have every gun registered, we have to know where the people are, and where their guns are, that’s very dangerous,” Carson said. “And that I wouldn’t agree with at all.”
Obama charged that politicians aren’t passing more gun laws “because of politics.”
“It’s because interest groups fund campaigns, feed people fear, and in fairness, it’s not just in the Republican Party, although the Republican Party is just uniformly opposed to all gun safety laws,” he said. “And unless we change that political dynamic, we’re not going to be able to make a — a big dent in this problem. For example, you’ll hear people talk about, ‘the problem’s not guns, it’s mental illness.'”
The focus on mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, though, is actually one of the bipartisan areas of agreement on guns where legislators could agree on potential solutions to spot and stop such shooters.
But Obama argued that “it is true that the majority of these mass shooters are angry young men, but there are hundreds of millions of angry young men around the world. Tens of millions of angry young men, and most of them don’t shoot.”
“It doesn’t help us just to identify — and — and the majority of people who have mental illnesses are not shooters. So — so we can’t sort through and identify ahead of time who might take actions like this. The only thing we can do is make sure that they can’t have an entire arsenal when something snaps in them,” he said.
“And if we’re going to do something about that, the politics has to change. The politics has to change. And the people who are troubled by this have to be as intense and as organized and as adamant about this issue as folks on the other side, who are absolutists and think that any gun safety measures are somehow an assault on freedom or communistic, or a plot by me to take over and stay in power forever or something. I mean, there are all kinds of crackpot conspiracy theories that float around there. Some of which, by the way, are ratified by elected officials in the other party, on occasion.”
Obama added that people in favor of more gun control are going to have to be a “single-issue voter because that’s what is happening on the other side.”
“We’re not going to stop all violence. Violence exists around the world, sadly,” he said. “Part of original sin, but our homicide — our homicide rates are just a lot higher than other places that, by the way, have the same levels of violence. It’s just you can’t kill as many people when you don’t have easy access to these kinds of weapons.”