Ohio Gov. John Kasich became the latest Republican presidential candidate to offer controversial comments on the recent spate of mass gun violence.
“I don’t think gun control would solve this problem,” he told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. “The deeper issue is alienation. The deeper issue is loneliness. The deeper issue is we’re paying no attention to an individual who is really struggling.”
Asked what role, if any, government should have in preventing such mass shootings — nearly 300 of which have taken nearly 400 lives this year alone — Kasich responded that the only government responses should be improved mental health care.
“This is part of the reason I expanded Medicaid,” he said. “So people can get help at the community level.”
He defended this stance later Tuesday afternoon on CNN, saying, “We have to get to the root causes [of gun violence]. These people are estranged. They’re outcasts.”
Yet “loneliness” and “alienation” are universal issues, while mass shootings — as President Obama has repeatedly stressed — are a uniquely American phenomenon.
“We are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses who want to do harm to other people,” the president said last week, responding to the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.”
Other wealthy nations with much lower levels of gun violence — from Australia to Canada to the U.K. — have expressed horror in recent weeks that American leaders have done nothing to limit access to guns in the wake of so much violence. Those countries — which have much stricter gun control laws — experience just a fraction of the firearm deaths that routinely occur in the U.S. Between 2000 and 2014, there were a mere 33 mass shootings in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, Finland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa and Switzerland combined.
Yet the most recent massacre, which killed 9 people at a community college in Oregon, has elicited verbal shrugs from many Republican candidates running for president.
“That’s the way the world goes,” front runner Donald Trump offered last week. “No matter what you do you will have problems.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush echoed this sentiment, telling reporters that “stuff happens.”
“There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson also chimed in on Tuesday, criticizing President Obama for “politicizing” the shooting, and offering that had he been confronted by the gunman, “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him.'”