Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont does not believe gun control alone will bring an end to violence in the U.S.
“If anyone thinks that gun control itself is going to solve the problem of violence in this country, you're terribly mistaken,” Sanders said in an interview with NPR’s David Greene. “So, obviously, we need strong, sensible gun control and I will support it. But some people think it's going to solve all of our problems. It is not."
Sanders added that he sees a cultural divide between urban and rural America when it comes to gun ownership and control. In a rural state like Vermont, he said guns are used in sport, while in cities like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, they are used to kill people.
"I think guns and gun control is an issue that needs to be discussed," Sanders said. "Let me add to that, I think that urban America has got to respect what rural America is about, where 99 percent of the people in my state who hunt are law abiding people ... Talking about cultural divides in this country, you know, it is important for people in urban America to understand that families go out together and kids go out together and they hunt and enjoy the outdoors and that is a lifestyle that should not be condemned."
Sanders believes his experience in rural Vermont puts him in a very good position to “bring forth common-sense legislation regarding guns.”
One measure Sanders would like to see in respect to thwarting violence in America is care for mental health illnesses.
“You know what, we have a crisis in the capability of addressing mental health illness in this country,” Sanders said. “When people are hurting and are prepared to do something terrible, we need to do something immediately. We don't have that and we should have that."
Sanders' interview occurred in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, which has prompted many of the 2016 presidential hopefuls from both parties to make statements on gun control in America. Sanders did not speak publicly immediately following the shooting, Business Insider reported, but his campaign manager released a statement.
“This sick and tragic attack is an example of why we need to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of dangerous people," the statement read.