Republican Jeb Bush said Saturday during a town hall event near Las Vegas that tighter gun controls would not significantly reduce violent crimes like the attack on a black church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine people this month. Photo: Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
LAS VEGAS, June 28 (UPI) -- Republican presidential nominee Jeb Bush this weekend lauded his record against government-mandated gun control -- and disputed President Barack Obama's suggestions that easy access to guns plays a direct role in shooting tragedies like the one in South Carolina earlier this month.
Stumping in the early caucus state of Nevada, near Las Vegas, Bush on Saturday addressed the hot button issue -- which often spurs debate prior to elections and after mass shootings.
The former Florida governor, long a proponent of Second Amendment rights that protect citizens' rights to carry firearms, said a state or federally-mandated clampdown on guns are not the answer to acts of violence.
"Florida is a pro-gun state. Gun violence has dropped. There's a reason for it," he said after a speech in Henderson. "We created a balance that's focused on lowering gun violence but protecting the Second Amendment, and it's a model for many other countries and many other states because of that."
Bush on Saturday touted his A+ rating with the National Rifle Association and the "10-20-Life" law he enacted in Florida -- which mandates 10, 20 and 25-year-to-life prison terms for convicts who use a gun, shoot it, or kill someone in the commission of a crime, respectively.
"If they [were] going to commit gun crimes ... they were going to pay a heavy price," he said at the town hall event Saturday.
Obama, who has repeatedly criticized gun control measures in the United States as insufficient, suggested last week after the shooting deaths of nine people at a Charleston, S.C., church that tighter gun control measures might have made a difference.
"Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," he said the day after the Charleston attack.
Obama made similar remarks in December 2012 following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, where 20 young children were shot to death by a gun-wielding attacker.
However, Bush was critical of the president's line of thinking.
"There has not been a single thing that he has proposed recently that would have changed the course of any of these tragic cases," he said.
Bush said at the event that he believes voters in swing, or so-called "purple states," will be the ones who determine which president succeeds Obama in 2017.
If nominated and elected, the Bush family will become the first family in American history to produce three commanders-in-chief.