DeSantis Stands Firm on Gun Rights After Iowa Shooting

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As 2024 kicks off, we start to get into the thick of primary campaign season. The Iowa caucuses are just days away at this point. Folks there get to pick between Trump, DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy, or whoever else is running. That likely brought a lot more attention to the shooting in Iowa on Thursday.


It’s unsurprising that candidate would be asked if they’d back gun control in the wake of what happened.

Granted, at that point, almost no one knew just what happened and it’s still fairly early, but that’s never stopped the media before.

Regardless, at least one candidate was, in fact, asked if the shooting would push them to back federal gun control regulations. That was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and his answer is what I’d hope all of them would say. 

Hours after a high school shooting in Perry, Iowa, killed a sixth-grade student and wounded five others, Gov. Ron DeSantis said such incidents were “more of a local and state issue” than a federal one, and as president, he wouldn’t support measures aimed at curbing gun ownership.

In an interview with NBC News and the Des Moines Register while campaigning in the key early caucus state on Thursday, DeSantis pointed to how Florida has focused on mental health reforms and school safety improvements to address mass shootings like the one in Parkland in 2018.

DeSantis said the mental state of shooters who “really get a kick out of doing this” was “an underlying sickness in society,” and one that new restrictions on gun ownership wouldn’t prevent.

“I don’t support infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens with respect to the ability to exercise their constitutional rights,” he said. “I know these things can be used to try to target things, and a lot of the things that are proposed would not have even prevented any of these things. … But people can count on me to hold criminals accountable. Be very serious about holding accountable people that represent a dangerous society, but at the same time protecting their constitutional rights.”


Haley and Ramaswamy both spoke about the shooting, though neither seemed to discuss gun control in any way.

Ramaswamy had campaign events scheduled later that day and canceled them and instead turned them into open forums for conversation about what happened. A couple of people said they weren’t surprised about what happened, but it doesn’t seem the candidate expressed any desire to restrict our access to guns.

Only DeSantis seemed to have been asked directly about gun control and his answer on it was solid, especially right now since we really don’t know much.

There’s a lot of guessing out there right now and a lot of potentially misleading information. No one should shift any positions on anything with so little information, particularly when we’re talking about a fundamental, constitutionally protected right.

However, I don’t expect DeSantis to shift even as we learn more. After all, this was a kid who couldn’t legally purchase a firearm. Restricting people buying guns isn’t going to stop this from happening.

We really need to start understanding the underlying sickness that drives people to do this kind of thing and stop trying to punish people who had nothing to do with what happened.


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