Jeb Bush in South Carolina argued against calls for greater gun control on Friday, saying “stuff happens.”
After a question from the audience about the massacre that killed nine people at an Oregon community college Thursday, Bush said “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 was later asked if his remarks were a mistake.
“No, it wasn’t a mistake. I said exactly what I said. Why would you explain to me what I said was wrong? Things happen all the time—things—is that better?”
Minutes later at the White House, President Obama responded to Bush, saying, “I don’t even think I have to react to that.”
The president reprised his remarks from Thursday, saying that action on guns is possible.
“As I said last night, this will not change until the politics changes and the behavior of elected officials changes. The main thing I’m going to do is I’m going to talk about this. I’m going to politicize it. Inaction is a political decision we are making. Normally politicians are responsive to the views of the electorate. The majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.”
Bush’s comments on guns are consistent with his previous stances on guns. As Florida governor, he signed Stand Your Ground legislation that gave Floridians the right to use deadly force against their attackers without first trying to flee them. According to the Orlando Sentinel, an NRA lobbyist was present for the signing ceremony. He also signed legislation letting people carry guns in state parks and removed Florida governors’ power to seize citizens’ guns during hurricanes, as the Tampa Bay Times reported.
And as governor, he suggested tighter gun laws would have moved Florida toward becoming a police state.
“It’s clear that unless we want to have a police state—and I have never met a person who thinks that would be a good idea—we cannot legislate against these random, senseless acts of violence,” he said in a 2000 press conference, according to the Miami Herald.
At that same event, the then-governor argued that lengthier prison sentences for convicted felons who illegally possessed guns—rather than tighter regulations on overall gun ownership—were a more effective way to curb violence.
Bush responded to the firestorm with two tweets: