STEPHEN COLBERT: Governor, now you ran a raffle raising money for your campaign. A $3.00 donation and people get a chance to be a guest here at the show to watch you on the show tonight. In response we did a raffle that someone could come to the show tonight and I would ask one of their questions of you okay? So the guy who won our raffle is named Lee Gregory and all together we raised $183,000 for the yellow ribbon fund which is for the families of victims. And here’s his question “President Obama has said that the greatest frustration of his presidency is the lack of movement on gun control legislation. Most of the country favors a system of prudent checks. Even so a well organized minority has stymied all progress and almost weekly we see the deadly consequences. How do you square this with real democracy and what are you prepared to do about it?”
JEB BUSH: So in Florida where I was governor we have a requirement of background checks, a 72 hour waiting period. People were not violating any 2nd amendment rights, in fact Florida would be considered a 2nd amendment pro gun state. Gun violence is way down but we have simple checks to make sure that people who are criminals are not accessing guns. I think the next step is to figure out ways to make sure that we can know if people have mental health issues which is really the common denominator of a lot of these violent, tragic cases where people aren’t getting access to mental health and we don’t even know if they have real issues.
COLBERT: If mental health checks are opposed by the NRA how do you fight back?
BUSH: I think you do it at the state by state level. This is… the greatest of our country is..tell you what Vermont is a lot different. Vermont is actually the most pro gun state in the country believe it or not. New York City’s a lot different than rural Florida and vice versa so why would you want to impose national gun laws on top of every circumstance of this country?
COLBERT: Well the right to have an individual firearm to protect yourself is a national document, the constitution, so shouldn’t the way that be applied also be national?
BUSH: No not necessarily
COLBERT: So I go to Florida I’m living by Florida’s laws not New York’s laws and I should just basically roll the dice if I feel like that’s not a safe thing to do?
BUSH: No, there’s a 10th amendment to our country. The Bill of Rights has a 10th amendment which is that powers are given to the states to create policy and the federal government is not the end all be all. That’s an important value for this country and it’s a federal system that works quite well.
Jeb Bush on the October, 2015 Oregon school shooting
REPORTER: The question on everybody’s mind is obviously the tragedy in Oregon. Ten people dead, gunman shot. This has become a way of life in America. A lot of people say that congress has not yet acted; the president has been limited in what he’s been able to do because of the result of congress. What is your reaction?
JEB BUSH: I don’t know what congress could do to deal with a tragedy like this. This is heartbreaking. And we’ve got to be careful to pass laws that don’t have the affect of solving the problem, and typically these are best done at the state level in my mind. We have a mental health challenge. Someone doesn’t commit suicide after killing ten people, apparently shooting people in the head if they’re a Christian and maiming them if they’re not. No gun laws necessarily going to be able to deal with that. That is a sick person where there was no intervention in their lives to be able to get them on the right course.
REPORTER: Should there be a tightening of access to weapons? As to whether a person’s mentally ill?
BUSH: Yeah, I think that’s the proper place that states need to look at it. And I think some states have done a much better job of creating a database so that you can identify people that have significant mental health challenges and that shouldn’t have access to guns.
REPORTER: Should we make this a national thing then…..
BUSH: My impulse as I spoke for an hour and a half here is to do this from the bottom up.
REPORTER: You said that sometimes stuff happens and that there’s an impulse to do something….
BUSH: Not related to Oregon, just clarity here. Let’s make sure that we don’t allow this to get out of control. There are all sorts of things that happen in life. Tragedies unfold….Look just read the papers and you see a child dies in a pool, is drowned and parents want to pass a law to do something and you’ve got to be careful that you want to solve the problem. If there’s a problem, a defect in the law, fine then. We did that all the time but sometimes you’re imposing solutions to a problem that doesn’t fix the problem and takes away people’s liberty and that’s what I was trying to….
REPORTER: If you were president what would your impulse be? If you were president today?
BUSH: My impulse would be that the presidency is not just the prime minister, if you will, he’s also a public leader and I think he has to council the grieving. He has to, he or she, has to lead by consoling unifying kind of way when we have these tragedies unfold.
REPORTER: Was “stuff happens” a mistake then?
BUSH: No, it wasn’t a mistake. I said exactly what I said. Why don’t you explain to me what I said wrong?
REPORTER: You said stuff happens.
BUSH: Things happen all the time. Things, is that better?
REPORTER: What were you referring to?
BUSH: Tragedies. A child drowns in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around pools or it may not change it. Or you have a car accident and the impulse is to pass a law that deals with that unique event. The accumulative effect of this is in some cases we don’t solve the problem by passing the law and your imposing on large numbers of people burdens that make it harder for our economy to grow, make it harder for people to protect liberty and that’s…the whole conversation today was exactly about that. That as we shift power up to Washington D.C their solutions end up having effects that make it harder for people to live lives with purpose and meaning. There has to be some cautions given. There was no connection to the Oregon issue at all. If you go back and listen to it I think you’ll find that to be the case.