HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. -- Former President Gerald Ford says people who commit crimes with guns should get the death penalty whenever someone is injured.
Responding to reporters' questions about the assassination attempt on President Reagan, Ford said there should be mandatory sentences for people who commit crimes with guns and 'capital punishment if someone is injured.'
He opposed gun control measures that require the registration of guns or their owners. He said the country would never be able to outlaw handguns because such an attempt would cause a 'revolt' by millions of hunters.
But, the former president said it might be wise to 'take discretion away from the judges' in determining sentences.
Ford spoke Thursday night at a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Thomas Kean.
He defended the Secret Service in its protection of the president. 'There is no way you can guarantee 100 percent protection,' he said.
'It's a peril of the profession. You can't stop it,' he said of the assassination attempts.
Ford said he believes the Secret Service did all it could to adequately protect Reagan on Monday and during assassination attempts on his own life in 1975.
The former chief executive's own Secret Service security has not changed since Monday. He said his protection is something that does not intrude on his personal life. 'I don't pay any attention to them,' he said.
Ford also said the United States should discuss arming the Chinese to prevent the spread of Soviet threats to world peace.
But he said 'I am not advocating a particular program. In the future, the United States might discuss the matter ... the United States and the People's Republic of China both see the Soviet threat on a worldwide basis as a common one.' he said.
Ford returned to the United States Wednesday after a semi-official tour of 11 countries. He said 'There was a strong international consensus behind the Reagan domestic and foreign policy.' But he would not identify the leaders who endorsed Reagan's policies.
In addition to imposing stiffer penalites on people who commit crimes with guns, Ford recommended Congress pass legislation preventing the shipment of parts of handguns to this country where they are assembled.
He said at present handguns cannot be imported but a loophole allows for the shipment of gun parts