Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on Monday suggested the possible creation of a database to help identify “dangerous people” as one way to address the recent scourge of mass shootings in the US.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Business Insider ahead of the release of his new book, “A More Perfect Union,” the top-tier GOP presidential candidate said such a database could prevent those deemed unstable from acquiring weapons.
“In the case of both the shooter in Aurora and the one at Virginia Tech, there was evidence that these were dangerous people. And that could be easily in a database. We have the mechanism for doing stuff, but we have to act on it,” Carson said, referencing mass shootings in recent years at the Virginia college and a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.
He added: “Common sense will tell you that you’re not going to put dangerous weapons in somebody’s hands like that. That seems like a big part of our problem. Common sense — we don’t seem to have it anymore.”
Carson’s comments came in the wake of the shooting in Oregon last week that left 10 people dead and wounded several others. The proposal he raised is a primary step advocated by gun-rights organisations like the National Rife Association help prevent mass shootings.
Many states already have background-check systems. But no official federal mandate exists dictating information-sharing between the state systems, which vary widely. The systems also only note those who have been committed to a mental-health institution or have been deemed by courts to be dangerous in possession of weapons, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats have said these checks don’t go far enough. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), a freshman senator whose former district was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, said the idea the system could identify mass shooters before they committed a crime was a “policy illusion,” according to the Economist.
Though Carson emphasised on Monday that he does not support any gun control measures for the broader public, he also suggested he’s not opposed to lifting a ban on federal funding for the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research the causes of gun violence as a public-health issue.
“I would obviously want to know what was the rationale behind such a ban because it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Carson told Business Insider. “But you know sometimes things that are presented on the surface that don’t make sense when you find out what the rationale — you say, ‘Oh, I didn’t think about that.'”
After Business Insider explained that outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the ban should be in place because “a gun is not a disease,” Carson dismissed it as a “political football.”
“It sounds sort of like a political football, when in fact what we need to be doing is what I said before — seeing what we can glean from these incidents so that we can begin to identify these people early on,” Carson said. “Removing guns have nothing to do with it.”
Carson has repeatedly emphasised his opposition to any stricter limits on gun ownership.
In “A More Perfect Union,” Carson suggested that powerful weapons were needed to deter and defend against a hypothetical tyrannical government.
The retired neurosurgeon wrote that efforts to curb access to powerful weapons with high-capacity magazines would put Americans in danger from government overreach.
He said the American people would be at a “great disadvantage if they were attacked by an overly aggressive government and all they had to defend themselves with were minor firearms.”
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