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Ben Carson: On Gun Control, Snowden — and Trump

Ben Carson sat down for an interview with USA Today to discuss gun control, Edward Snowden, and his Republican rival Donald Trump.

Carson stood by gun ownership, claiming that banning military level weapons wouldn’t have prevented the shooting and that it is an emotional response to the tragedy.

“Would that have prevented this? No,” Carson told USA TODAY’s weekly newsmaker series. “Would it have prevented the one before? No. I’m for doing things that work, not for things that stroke the emotions.”

He called for schools to have armed guards or teachers and slammed gun-free zones.

“If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon,” he says. Including the teacher? “If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn’t.”

He claimed gun ownership provided a large portion of Americans with protection when police services are too far away to service them in a reasonable time.

“If someone is, you know, threatening your life or the life of your family and you don’t have ready access to the police, I would prefer to have a mechanism for protecting myself.”

USA Today reports:

The nation’s continuing debate over gun control has been spotlighted by the shooting rampage last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., that left nine victims dead before the shooter allegedly killed himself. Umpqua bans guns and other weapons, but state law allows people with concealed permits to carry guns on the campus.

While Carson once supported the idea of banning assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition, he says he changed his mind after he read more about the history of tyranny, a subject explored in his new 240-page book.

“Reading people like Daniel Webster, who talked about tyranny in Europe and said it would never occur in America because the American people were armed,” he says. “When you look at tyranny and how it occurs, the pattern is so consistent: Get rid of the guns for the people first so you can go in and dominate them.”

Asked whether many Americans worried less about the threat from the government and more about the threat of fellow citizens armed with assault rifles, Carson replied: “You need to be able to protect yourself from both.”

Carson, now 64, admits to being surprised with his political rise since his address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013 drew the attention of evangelical Christians and others who urged him to get into politics. In the RealClearPolitics average of recent national polls, Trump runs first in the Republican field at 23%, followed by Carson at 17% and former CEO Carly Fiorina at 11%. Among the more traditional contenders — that is, those who have previously held elective office —only Florida Sen. Marco Rubio breaks into double digits, at 10%.

“It says that the people are actually starting to wake up and recognize that politics-as-usual is not taking us where we want to be,” Carson says of the strength of the outsider candidates. “In fact, it’s leading us in exactly the opposite direction.”

He rejects any parallel to the observation that a president should have experience in politics, just as most people wouldn’t choose a brain surgeon who had never been in an operating room before. “Neurosurgery is considerably more complicated than politics,” he scoffs. “You don’t need to know nearly as much to be able to maneuver in the political world as you do in the operating room inside of somebody’s brain. It’s not even close.”

Photo credit: CNN.

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