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Ben Carson defends comments about Oregon shooting

Last Updated Oct 7, 2015 9:59 AM EDT

Ben Carson refused to back away from his controversial remarks on mass shootings that lit up the gun control debate this week. The GOP presidential candidate argued that everyone should attack a massive shooter and he would sacrifice his life if he were face-to-face with a gunman. He said he'd rather see a body with bullet holes over gun control.

"I want to plant in people's minds what to do in a situation like this because unfortunately this is probably not going to be the last time this happens," he said in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

Less than a week after the mass shooting on the Umpqua Community College campus in Oregon, presidential candidates have been addressing gun control and mental health issues. But Carson's latest comments defending the right to bear arms may be the most controversial, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

"I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time. That way, we don't all wind up dead," he told ABC News while chuckling on Tuesday.

"The accusation there, Dr. Carson, is that you appeared tone deaf and that you seemed callous in the laughter about a massacre and what you would have done," Fox News' Megyn Kelly said.

"I'm laughing at them and their silliness," Carson responded.

"Who?" Kelly asked.

"The people asking that question. Of course, you know, if everybody attacks that gunman, he's not going to be able to kill everybody. But if you sit there and let him shoot you one by one, you're all going to be dead," Carson said.

When asked if he was judging the victims, Carson said he was looking at "the big picture."

"Not judging them at all. But, you know, these incidents continue to occur. I doubt that this will be the last one. I want to plant the seed in people's minds so that if this happens again, you know, they don't all get killed," he said.

On "CBS This Morning," Carson said that the case of Chris Mintz, the army veteran who was shot seven times while charging the shooter and ultimately saved lives, "verifies what I'm saying," although he did not know Mintz was when first asked about him.

"That's exactly what should be done and if everybody does that, the likelihood of him being able to kill as many people diminishes quite significantly," Carson said.

He deflected another question about the impossibility of knowing how he'd behave in that situation.

"We live in a culture now where people decide that everything you say - 'we need to set up battle lines,' and 'we need to get on this side of it or that side of it,' rather than of collectively trying to figure out how we solve the problem," he said. "It's sort of an immature attitude but it seems to be something that's rampant in America today."

As for seeking solutions to the problem of mass shootings in America, Carson advocated for studying the lives of each person who has carried out a mass shooting to see if there are patterns or early warning signs that would identify people who might be dangerous in the future.

"I think we have to for instance empower the psychiatrist, the psychologist, and number these cases," he said. "These people have already been working with mental health professionals, but nothing was done about it and we have to be able to move to the next step, not just recognizing that they're mentally ill but being able to take the appropriate interventional steps."

He said that the U.S. should "absolutely" look for a "mechanism" to keep weapons away from people that had been declared dangerous by a mental health professional, but added, "We need to study all the possibilities, and we cannot do anything that compromises the Second Amendment."

He also appeared on ABC's "The View" where he reiterated that kindergarten teachers should be armed with guns in their classrooms.

"Not all kindergarten teachers. I said people who are trained and understand all the implications and you're obviously not going to have a weapon sitting on the teacher's desk," Carson said.

The weapon would be secured in a place where kids can't get to it," he added.

"If the gunman comes in with an AK-45, or AR-15, how fast can that teacher go to the locked drawer and get that gun?" co-host Joy Behar asked.

"I want that teacher trained in diversionary tactics and whatever needs to be done in order to get there and I want there to be other people in that school who also know how to get to that gun," Carson said.

Carson stated that even his experience as a doctor removing bullets from victims of gun violence has reinforced his belief in the Second Amendment.

In a Facebook question and answer session he wrote: "There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking - but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

Other Republican candidates responded to the latest mass shooting with staunch opposition to stricter gun laws.

"Stuff happens. There's always a crisis," Jeb Bush said.

In Iowa, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton mocked Jeb Bush's remark.

"This isn't stuff that happens. We let it happen, and we have to act," Clinton said.

President Obama is going to Oregon to meet with the families of victims Friday. Some protests are expected, and Carson was asked if he would do the same as president. He responded probably not and suggested it would be politicizing the tragedy.

On "CBS This Morning," he said that if he were to go, his visit would attract less negative attention than Mr. Obama's "because I wouldn't be picking and choosing which groups I sympathize with."

Carson stated that even his experience as a doctor removing bullets from victims of gun violence has reinforced his belief in the Second Amendment.

Though he once supported a ban on military-style assault weapons, Carson's views have changed over the years, and he addressed his change of heart in his new book, "A More Perfect Union." On "CBS This Morning," he said the drafters of the Constitution "recognized that things would change, that we would become a more modern society," he said. "But we have to recognize that it was the principles that were important."

Carson said that the amendment was written to allow people to assist the military in case of an invasion and to protect themselves from an overly aggressive government. Arguing that people cannot have weapons that have become more advanced "violates that principle."