"Gun-free zones are a bad idea," the Republican presidential candidate said Sunday. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Sunday that armed theatergoers could have prevented last week's shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, La.
"I would suggest that the concept of gun-free zones are a bad idea," the Republican presidential candidate told CNN. "I think that you allow the citizens of this country who have been appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded and know how to handle and use firearms, to carry them."
The July 23 shooting, in which a gunman killed three people including himself, took place at a movie theater that prohibits patrons from bringing firearms inside.
Police identified the gunman as John Russell Houser, who had a history of mental illness. In a 2008 police report, family members described him as having "exhibited extreme erratic behavior."
"I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there's as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette," he added.
Perry said authorities need to focus on enforcing gun control laws already in place.
"The enforcement of these laws is what seems to be lacking, both in Charleston and here in Lafayette, Louisiana," he said. "We see individuals who are obviously mentally impacted. There were individuals who I think, somewhere, somebody didn't do their job in the standpoint of enforcing the laws that are on the books."