Presidential candidates from both parties as well as the White House expressed sympathy Wednesday for the death of two journalists in Virginia who were killed live on air — though some Democrats focused their messages on changing gun laws.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at length about the need for greater gun control, as well as universal background checks, while talking to reporters in Ankeny, Iowa.
“We have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on,” Clinton said. “It’s a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths, needless, senseless deaths.”
Clinton also called for universal background checks on guns.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest also called on Congress to consider gun-control legislation.
“There are some common-sense things that would have a tangible impact on reducing gun violence,” Earnest said. “Congress could take those steps that would not infringe upon the constitutional rights of all law-abiding Americans.”
But former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore said in a statement that the “unbearably sad” shooting does not mean the nation needs more gun laws.
“Every shooting tragedy, whether it is in Virginia, Massachusetts or Colorado, has one thing in common; they were all perpetrated by people,” said Gilmore, a member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors.
GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, speaking at an event in Londonderry, New Hampshire, said, “It’s not the guns, it’s the people who are committing these crimes.”
“What law in the world could have prevented him from killing them?” Rubio asked.
But the Florida senator did say that the U.S. can do something to prevent people with mental illness from getting guns. He also said the most important work lies with parents and community volunteers having a positive effect on people’s lives and help and understand why “so many people have deiced to be violent in our country.”
Other presidential candidates, including Rubio, reacted on social media.