Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is facing backlash after he reportedly said that “stuff happens” when asked about passing tighter gun control laws after the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
According to The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza, Bush, 62, made the statement while responding to a question about passing gun control laws in the wake of tragedies, like the one in Roseburg, during a press stop in Greenville, South Carolina.
“It’s a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this,” Bush said, according to a transcript that Lizza shared on Twitter. “I think we need to connect ourselves with everybody else.
“It’s just, it’s very sad to see, but I resist the notion [of passing gun control laws after tragedies] – I had this challenge as governor because we had – look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Shortly after Lizza’s tweet went out, President Barack Obama was asked to respond to Bush’s comments during a press conference at the White House on Friday.
“I don’t even think I have to react to that,” Obama told reporters “I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgments.
“The main thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to talk about this,” Obama said, reiterating his vow to “politicize” the issue. “Unless we change that political dynamic, we’re not going to be able to make a big dent in this problem,” he added.
On Thursday, Obama called for increased gun control laws in an impassioned speech following the Roseburg shooting.
“Somehow this has become routine,” he said. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation and the aftermath of it – we’ve become numb to this.”
He added: “It cannot be this easy for someone who wants to inflict harm on other people to obtain a gun.”
Bush isn’t the only presidential hopeful who has publicly reacted to the shooting. Mike Huckabee issues a statement in response to Obama’s Thursday remarks, accusing Obama of trying “to exploit any tragedy he wants.”
“With few facts, Obama is quick to admittedly politicize this tragedy to advance his liberal, anti-gun agenda,” Huckabee said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory. Obama can shamelessly try and exploit any tragedy he wants, but it’s clear that gun free zones are sitting duck zones.
“His passion is grossly misplaced into destroying the Second Amendment. There were 50 shootings in Chicago the past two weekends and this administration failed to utter a word. Gun violence is a problem in this country, but it’s not the fault of the Second Amendment it’s the fault of evil people doing evil things.”
Both Marco Rubio and Donald Trump also issued tweets expressing their condolences to those affected by the Roseburg shooting.
On the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton immediately called for “sensible gun control measures” in the wake of the shooting.
On Friday, Clinton continued her call for more gun control laws and took Republicans to task for their response.
She said: “We don’t just need to pray…We need to act … Republicans and the NRA say, now is not the time to talk about guns. Yes, it is.
“Republicans keep refusing to do anything to protect our communities,” Clinton continued. “They put the NRA ahead of American families. It is wrong.”
Bernie Sanders also weighed in on the debate, also calling for “sensible gun-control legislation.”
“As a nation, we must do everything we can to put an end to this awful epidemic of senseless slaughter,” he said.”
• Reporting by SANDRA SOBIERAJ-WESTFALL