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Ben Carson during his Sirius XM radio interview on Wednesday in New York City. (Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Republican hopeful Ben Carson has stirred controversy for saying he would have confronted the gunman in last week’s deadly mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. But when Carson once had a gun pulled on him, the retired neurosurgeon said Wednesday, he wasn’t quite as brave.
In an interview on Sirius XM radio, Carson described an encounter he had at a Popeye’s restaurant in Baltimore.
“Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs,” Carson recalled. “And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.’”
Sirius XM host Karen Hunter asked Carson what happened next.
“He said, 'Oh, OK,’” Carson said, laughing. “I redirected him.”
On Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends,” Carson suggested had he been in the classroom at Umqua Community College — where nine people were killed and seven others wounded by a heavily armed gunman — he would have tried to rush the shooter.
“Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said. “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”
On Tuesday night, Carson clarified those comments, telling Fox News he was “not judging” the shooting victims. But on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, Carson doubled down on his comments.
“From the indications I got, they didn’t rush the shooter,” Carson said. “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.”
Mathew Downing, one of the survivors of the Oregon shooting, said he was offended by Carson’s comments.
“I’m fairly upset he said that,” Downing told CNN. “Nobody could truly understand what actions they would take like that in a situation unless they lived it.”
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, though, came to Carson’s defense.
“Ben Carson was speaking in general terms as to what he would do if confronted with a gunman, and was not criticizing the victims,“ Trump tweeted. "Not fair!”
Ben Carson was speaking in general terms as to what he would do if confronted with a gunman, and was not criticizing the victims. Not fair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
In the wake of last week’s shooting, both Trump and Carson resisted calls by gun control advocates for a ban on assault weapons to solve America’s problem with gun violence.
“The bad guys are going to have them anyway,” Trump said Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “What happens when the bad guys have the assault weapons and you don’t?”
In an interview with USA Today, Carson said he would feel "more comfortable” if school security guards and teachers were armed.
“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,” he said.
In a Facebook Q&A on Monday, Carson wrote that he had operated on victims of gun violence, “but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”
On Thursday, Carson dismissed the notion that he didn’t follow his own advice to rush the shooter when he was confronted by a gunman in Baltimore.
"That’s a completely different situation,” Carson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This was somebody who comes into a joint to rob it.”