Oregon shooting: 'Blame the father' says one 2016 hopeful

Anthony Zurcher
North America reporter
@awzurcheron Twitter

Image source, Getty Images

Another mass shooting, another round of policy proposals and headline-grabbing invective - made more combustible by the ongoing US presidential race.

After last week's violence in Roseburg, Oregon, Republicans and Democrats on the campaign trail have been pressed for their views on the issue, and many have obliged.

In a crowded field of presidential aspirants, it's perhaps not surprising that the level of rhetoric on every issue is instantly amplified, as competing candidates try to make their voice heard above the fray.

Here's a sample of how prospective commanders-in-chief responded to the Roseburg tragedy.

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Ben Carson

"I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say: 'Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'"

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has defended gun rights as a bulwark against government tyranny and said that mass shootings are a mental health issue. In a Facebook post, he wrote about how, as a physician, he has had to treat gunshot victims, commenting: "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

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Mike Huckabee

"We have not so much a gun problem; we have a problem with sin and evil. This is an evil thing, when people kill another person."

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, takes a fire-and-brimstone approach to mass shootings, arguing that such incidents are a cultural problem, not a policy one. If citizens see someone who is "a little bit creepy and frightening", they should report it to the authorities.

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Bobby Jindal

"This killer's father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns… You know why he doesn't know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son's life. He's a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He's the problem here."

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is another candidate who points to a "deep and serious cultural decay" as the root cause of gun violence. He has drawn sharp criticism, however, for citing the father of the Roseburg shooter as a specific example of what he sees as the problem with US society.

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Jeb Bush

"We're in a difficult time in our country, and I don't think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to re-connect ourselves with everybody else."

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush got in a lot of trouble for his poorly worded response to the Roseburg shootings, in which his line "stuff happens" was cited out of context to make him seem dismissive of the incident. His comments in full, however, shed light on his view that increased regulation - particularly in response to tragic events - is a misguided course.

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John Kasich

"You can strip all the guns away but the people who are going to commit crimes or have problems are always going to have the guns and more and more people feel like I'd like to be able to protect myself."

As a member of Congress, John Kasich supported the federal ban on assault weapons. As governor of Ohio, he has signed laws relaxing the requirements for carrying a concealed handgun. Following the Oregon shooting, he leaned toward a mental health solution, saying the problems stem from alienation and loneliness.

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Hillary Clinton

"What is wrong with us, that we can't stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent? You know, this is not just tragic. We don't just need to pray for people. We need to act, and we need to build a movement."

Hillary Clinton has long supported increased gun regulation - but was relatively quiet about it during her 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. In the days following the Oregon shooting, however, she appears to be fully embracing the issue as part of her message to voters.

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Bernie Sanders

"I don't know that anybody knows what the magic solution is. What we do know is the current solution is not tenable, it is clearly not working… You got a whole lot of states in this country where people want virtually no gun control at all. And if we are going to have some success, we are going to have to start talking to each other."

Senator Bernie Sanders hails from Vermont, which has higher-than-average gun ownership but lower-than-average gun violence. Over the course of his political career he has supported some regulation and voted against others - drawing criticism from some Democratic gun control groups.

Candidates in (and out of) the Republican presidential field