Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry slammed President Barack Obama on Newsmax TV
Friday for following "standard operating procedure" in calling for tighter gun laws in light of the deadly South Carolina shootings on Wednesday.
"Our hearts go out to these individuals who were killed," Perry, the former Texas governor, told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth. "A totally senseless act."
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"We don't know what all the details are, but it seems all too often when there is a tragedy, a political agenda of 'let's just take people's guns away' is the obvious, easy route for those on the left to take. This country needs to have a conversation about why are these events occurring."
"The president does very easily slide into his political position of 'let's just take the guns away from the people' and that will make the world safer," Perry said. "I don't agree with that."
"I'm a big believer that if you have citizens who are armed, how do you use weapons? They can protect themselves when evil does show up at their door."
In a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday, Obama restated his call for more gun control after nine people were shot to death at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, 21, a white man, in a case that is being investigated by authorities as a hate crime.
Roof, of Eastover, S.C., was charged with nine counts of murder and one count of possessing a weapon during a violent crime. His bond was set at $1 million on the weapons charge, and Roof faces hearings in October and next February.
Rejecting the idea of mass shootings as "the new normal" in America, Obama said that more debate was needed on gun control.
"I was simply making the point that we have to move public opinion," the president said.
"We have to feel a sense of urgency."
He also attacked Republicans for not passing stricter gun laws after the 2012 killings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Congress acts when the public acts," the president said.
But none of Obama's rhetoric assuaged Perry — and the Lone Star State's longest-serving governor said he agreed with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley that Roof should be charged with capital punishment in the shooting deaths.
Turning to the issue of the growing Republican presidential field — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and billionaire developer Donald Trump joined the fray this week — Perry welcomed the wide array of candidates voters will have to select from next year.
"It's good to have a lot of choices, whether you're picking a healthcare plan or whether you're picking the president of the United States," he told Hayworth. "It's good if you got a lot of choices."
"Americans are going to have the chance to look at all of these individuals. There's some very good talent. They bring a set of experiences in life — and we lay them out and we look at the results that they've had in their lives and choose who we want to lead America."
"After eight years of this young, inexperienced United States senator, who economically and from a foreign policy standpoint has put America in a substantially poorer position than we were in eight years ago, Americans are going to be looking for a seasoned executive who's had a lot of experience," Perry said.
Further, he looks forward to defending his record during the GOP debates, the first of which is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland.
"We're a unique candidate in the sense of having been the chief executive of the 12th-largest economy in the world over the last 14 years," Perry said. "A job-creation record that nobody can even get close to, particularly in the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression."
"From 2007 to 2014, Texas created 1.5 million jobs. The rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs."
"Being one of only two people on that stage who's worn the uniform of the country — that is going to make me a unique individual," he added. "It paints my worldview having worn the uniform of the country as a pilot in the United States Air Force, having been the commander-in-chief of the Texas Military Forces and the Texas National Guard."
Those military experiences will "help paint a very powerful picture of not only executive experience, but an individual who on the foreign policy side is very well versed," Perry told Hayworth.
"I look forward to being on the stage with the individuals who share our very positive vision about the country."
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