Andrew Gillum rips Rick Santorum over claim guns aren't problem

Former Tallahassee, Fla., Mayor Andrew Gillum slammed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's stance on gun control as “ridiculous” for saying guns are not the “problem” in mass shootings.

“The Republican Party is going to focus on what the problem is, and the problem is not the gun; the problem is the people who are using those guns,” Santorum said when pressed whether the GOP needs to “give a little” on measures like expanding background checks. “The problem is not trying to ban guns or trying to put more gun laws in place, because the people committing these crimes are breaking the law, and they don’t really care whether they violate gun crimes or not.”

“That is ridiculous,” retorted Gillum, who campaigned in favor of expanded gun-control legislation when he ran for governor of Florida last year.

“It’s not the opioids that’s the problem; it’s the people taking the opioids,” he said, presumably equating Santorum’s comments to the opioid crisis.

RELATED: Andrew Gillum, Democratic nominee for Florida governor

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Andrew Gillum, Democratic nominee for Florida governor
Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum speaks at a Florida League of Cities Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in Hollywood, Florida, U.S. August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken on July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum watches a video, which shows his rise from the son of a bus driver, to the mayor of Florida's capital city, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for state governor, during a campaign visit to a barbershop in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor, Andrew D. Gillum addresses the audience at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor, Andrew D. Gillum addresses the audience at he Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
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Gillum made reference to the mass shooter armed with an AR-15-style pistol who killed nine people within 30 seconds earlier this month in Dayton, Ohio. “Thirty seconds and they were able to mow down a whole group of people,” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense. It’s the weapons that we’ve got to get rid of.”

Santorum argued that taking guns away from their owners was not a popular proposal even among some Democrats, pointing to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who doesn’t support mandatory buybacks of assault weapons and on Sunday called for prioritizing “the basics” of gun control such as “universal background checks, red flag laws, a ban on new sales of these assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

“We have got some fundamentals we have got to take care of, and then we will work to figure out how to make sure that we're not forever the only country with more guns than people,” Buttigieg said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Even Democrats who are not calling for gun bans are saying, ‘Let’s do this first and then we can get to gun bans,” Santorum said, referring to background checks.

After a mass shooting occurred in El Paso, Texas — and within 24 hours before Dayton — Santorum, a senior CNN political commentator, argued that tougher gun-control laws would ultimately disarm law-abiding citizens, making them “soft targets” for mass shooters.

“They go after soft targets, he said. “The whole point is that when you restrict guns to law-abiding people, you make more soft targets.”

But Gillum, also a commentator for CNN, argued that “something has to give” in the efforts to stop gun violence like those in El Paso and Dayton, and he declared “a reckoning that’s happening in the country on guns right now.”

“Something has to happen here, and we will eventually have to get around to the conversation of what do we do with weapons of war that are still out there on our streets,” he said.

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