Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon and conservative political columnist who is often touted as 2016 presidential candidate, told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Wednesday that his views on gun rights do not necessarily cover all weapons. His comments came just five days after a mass shooting and killing spree by disturbed 22-year old Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, California, claimed six innocent lives and Rodger’s own, horrifying the nation.
“I think there are some weapons that are probably not appropriate, like, you know, tanks,” said Carson in response to a question about his views on whether Second Amendment gun rights protections should cover automatic weapons as well. “And I’m not sure that people should have a rocket launcher in their bedroom. But, you know, conventional weapons, I don’t have any problem with.”
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The wording of the amendment has inspired a wide range of opinions, especially due to the confusion about whether the right to keep and bear arms is directly tied to a “well regulated militia,” or if it applies to individuals outside of such groups.
Carson said, in his interpretation, the Second Amendment was designed to “give the populous the ability to assist the military in case of a foreign invasion,” a definition which would seem to contradict the absolutist view of an unfettered individual right to bear arms.
But Carson also said that Second Amendment gun rights are also designed to protect citizens against “a rogue government that wants to dominate the people.”
Ben Carson previously stated that the right to possess semi-automatic weapons should be dependent on location and should be banned in heavily populated areas.
“I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it,” he said in an earlier interview.
Elliot Rodger was found after Friday’s shootings to possess three semi-automatic handguns.
Carson criticized what he called the “infantile attitude” of gun rights supporters who refuse to have “a conversation” about gun rights.
Dr. Carson told his Washington, D.C. audience:
“What I have said, which some people have misinterpreted, is that in places where there’s a lot of crime with assault weapons that keeping the Second Amendment on the table and always protecting it, we should be able to engage in conversations about it. What can we agree on that doesn’t violate the Second Amendment but that provides some degree of protection for our citizens. Unless we can talk about these kinds of things we will never succeed with these kinds of things.”