Jeb Bush isn’t packing, according to a gun ownership survey of U.S. Republican presidential candidates published by the Daily Telegraph of London Tuesday. Despite his “A+” rating from the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby, Bush is one of the few candidates who does not own firearms.
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard boss form California, also do not own guns, according to the Telegraph survey. While Bush, the former Florida governor, has touted his pro-gun rights record and state-level anti-gun violence laws, his not owning a weapon himself has concerned some Second Amendment gun rights groups.
"That he doesn't even own a gun for his own protection strikes me as somewhat disconnected from the reality that many Americans face," Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group, told the Daily Telegraph.
Many of the others in the Republican field of 17 said they owned handguns, shotguns or military-style semiautomatic rifles. High-profile, deadly mass shooting incidents in recent years have not changed most Republicans’ position that the U.S. does not need new restrictions on gun ownership.
In June, Bush rejected the idea that gun control measures would have prevented recent gun tragedies, including the racist massacre at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that month. He said the U.S. should maintain a balance between public safety and gun rights, with laws that are harshest on those who commit acts of violence with guns.
"Florida is a pro-gun state. Gun violence has dropped. There's a reason for it,” Bush said at a June 27 campaign event in Nevada, according to CNN. "We created a balance that's focused on lowering gun violence but protecting the Second Amendment, and it's a model for many other countries and many other states because of that."
Florida’s "10-20-Life" law sets a minimum 10-year prison sentence for anyone carries a gun while committing a crime. Offenders get 20 years in prison for pulling the trigger during a crime and 25 years to life in prison for wounding or killing someone with a gun. Criminal justice reform advocates have criticized the law because it ties judges' hands and does not allow case-by-case leniency.