Just days after a gunman killed nine people at an Oregon community college, Dr. Ben Carson advocated arming school staff -- even kindergarten teachers -- to prevent more school shootings.
The Republican presidential candidate said it would make him “much more comfortable” to know there were more guns in schools if he were a parent, in an interview with USA Today published Tuesday.
“If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere. I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon," said Carson, who is the father of three grown sons. "If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn't."
Gun control could lead to tyranny, Carson added, marking the latest in a series of increasingly conservative positions the retired neurosurgeon has taken amid a string of high-profile mass shootings in the last several years. In a new book, Carson goes further, arguing that the regulation of firearms helped enable the Holocaust.
"German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler's regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior," Carson writes in "A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties," published Tuesday. "Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance."
In the book, Carson doesn't pull any punches in attacking gun control legislation: He says it's not that unreasonable to worry about the federal government turning on its citizens and suggests that Americans' freedom is dependent on their right to bear arms.
“American citizens have been armed for hundreds of years and they have been free for hundreds of years," he writes.
“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me."'
Carson made a similar point in a Facebook Q&A on Monday, writing that while he had operated on victims of gun violence, "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."
He pushed the envelope further in an interview on Fox News Tuesday, suggesting that people should fight back against armed assailants to defend themselves.
"I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, hey guys, everybody attack him -- he may shoot me but he can't get us all," Carson said.
Carson’s far-right views and soft-spoken geniality have helped him surge to the front of the crowded Republican field. In the latest national poll, he ranks second with 13% of the GOP primary vote, trailing Donald Trump who has 23% of the vote.
In the wake of the Oregon shooting, he has reiterated his argument that gun control is useless -- “it doesn’t work for crazies,” he said in Iowa last week -- and that mental health care should be strengthened to stop the frequent shootings in schools.
Carson's stance on gun control has grown more conservative over the years; in 2013, he voiced opposition to assault rifles being allowed in cities, but has since backtracked, saying that gun control legislation is unnecessary and infringes on the rights of those who follow the law.