In the wake of another campus shooting that is prompting calls for stricter gun control, Republican presidential candidates have gone to great lengths to avoid offering any policy solutions and risking the National Rifle Association’s wrath. But none have been quite as explicit as Jeb Bush, whose response to the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon was: “Stuff happens.”
“Look, stuff happens and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do,” Bush said Friday.
When asked later to clarify his comments, he used a specific example to illustrate how laws are not always the right way to address a tragedy.
“A child drowns in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around pools,” Bush explained. “Well, it may not change it…the cumulative effect of this is in some cases, you don’t solve the problem by passing the law, and you’re imposing on large numbers of people, burdens that make it harder for our economy to grow, make it harder for people to protect liberty.”
But, as some have pointed out, Bush actually did just that. After a child in Florida fell into a pool and nearly drowned, then-Gov. Bush signed a law in 2000 to require pool owners to choose a way to prevent unsupervised children from going into the water. The law specifically required that pool owners install either fencing directly around the pool, safety covers, door alarms or self-latching doors — or face jail time or a fine.
Bush also drastically expanded gun rights during his tenure as governor, signing the infamous Stand Your Ground law that police used to explain why they didn’t initially charge George Zimmerman for the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin. A study showed that gun violence rates rose in Florida in the wake of the Stand Your Ground law even as violent crime rates dropped. Guns now account for 75 percent of all murders in the state, up from 56 percent in 2000.
Nor is gun control like pool regulation, which may or may not have an impact on pool deaths. States with fewer gun restrictions have higher rates of gun deaths. Johns Hopkins researchers have linked the loosening of certain permit requirements to significant increases in states’ murder rates. In fact, even Jeb Bush himself recently admitted that passing background checks and a 72-hour waiting period in his state reduced gun violence.