Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said having more armed citizens would be preferable to more restrictive gun laws. The retired neurosurgeon said that, after the Umpqua campus shooting in Oregon on Oct. 1, he would be more comfortable if schools had armed guards.
Carson, in an interview with USA Today’s Capital Download series on Oct. 6, touched on a variety of topics spanning from gun control, his appeal with voters and whether or not he is qualified to be president.
The presidential candidate, second only to front-runner Donald Trump in the polls, said gunmen are attracted to gun-free zones. "They aren't likely to go into a place where they are likely to get shot,” he told USA Today. Umpqua Community College is a gun-free zone but gun owners with concealed permits are allowed to carry guns on campuses in Oregon, USA Today reports.
While Carson is critical of gun-free zones, he also believes there should be no laws restricting military-style assault weapons.
“I'm for doing things that work, not for things that stroke the emotions,” Carson said.
Carson also schools should have armed guards: "If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon."
Carson once supported banning automatic weapons and armor-piercing ammunition, but told USA Today he reversed his position after reading books on tyranny.
“When you look at tyranny and how it occurs, the pattern is so consistent: Get rid of the guns for the people first so you can go in and dominate them,” Carson says.
ABC News reports that Carson has written on Facebook that he “never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”
The former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon has received criticism for previous comments about the Umpqua mass shooting. According to ABC News, Carson has said what he would have done if he had been among the nine who were executed by the deranged Oregon gunman.
“I would ask everyone to attack the gunman,” Carson said. “That way we wouldn’t all end up dead.”
While some have expressed outrage over Carson’s critique of the Umpqua victims, he was defended by fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump, CNN reports.
Trump said in a tweet on Oct. 7: "Ben Carson was speaking in general terms as to what he would do if confronted with a gunman, and was not criticizing the victims. Not fair!"
Carson expressed surprise about his popularity in the polls. He attributes his success to Republican voters’ hunger for a political outsider, USA Today reports.
When asked about his lack of political experience, Carson was incredulous.
“Neurosurgery is considerably more complicated than politics," he said. "You don't need to know nearly as much to be able to maneuver in the political world as you do in the operating room inside of somebody's brain. It's not even close."