Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called for individuals convicted in mass shootings to face the death penalty through an expedited process and argued the country should place more focus on institutionalizing the mentally ill as potential ways to address gun violence.
Pence was one of several potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates to address the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership summit in Indianapolis, where he outlined his vision for the nation’s gun policy. The speech came weeks after three children and three staff were killed at a Nashville school, and days after a gunman killed five people in a Louisville, Ky., bank shooting.
“While the assailants in the most recent attacks were taken out by law enforcement on the scene, too many mass shooters languish in prison for years,” Pence said. “Justice delayed is justice denied. It’s inconceivable to me that the shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 is languishing in a Florida prison.”
“I think the time has come for a federal death penalty statute with expedited appeal that would ensure that those who engage in mass shootings in this country face execution in months, not years,” he added.
Pence, who received a mix of jeers and cheers upon taking the stage in the state where he was once governor, pushed back hard against calls from Democrats for tougher gun laws to prevent the mass shootings that have become commonplace in America.
Instead, he argued the solution is to “give every community in the country the funds to place armed resource officers in every public and private school in America.” Pence also put an emphasis on the need to institutionalize the mentally ill.
“With so much violence taking place at the hands of those struggling with serious mental illness, the answer to mass shootings is not fewer guns, it’s more institutions for the mentally ill,” Pence said.
Friday’s NRA conference was a major draw for several potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates. Pence and former President Donald Trump attended in person, as did South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R). Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) addressed attendees via video message.
Pence is weighing a 2024 bid of his own, and he told Fox News earlier Friday he expected to make a decision in “weeks” about whether to enter the race.