At a church meeting I attended last night, someone told me she had read that the President's reaction to yesterday's Virginia Tech shootings was to talk about how we still shouldn't have gun control.
A bunch of us thought that was odd. I speculated that he might have said it before the second shooting.
Anyway, after hearing about it from a few more people, I decided to look it up.
It turns out that Bush himself didn't say anything about gun rights and the shooting.
His press secretary did say:
" "As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly, bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting numbers -- I don't want to say numbers, because I know that they're still trying to figure out how many people were wounded and possibly killed. But obviously, that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for. " "
But that was in response to a direct question from a reporter about whether the shootings would change the president's mind about gun control. I'd say that having been asked the question, the quote forms an unsurprising answer that is not particularly offensive in context.
A reporter tried to follow up: "Columbine, [the] Amish school shooting, now this, and a whole host of other gun issues brought into schools. That's not including guns on the streets in many urban areas and rural areas. Does there need to be some more restrictions? Does there need to be gun control in this country now?"
The press secretary's response: "The president -- as I said, if there are changes to the president's policy, then we will let you know."
Anyway, that's the story behind that quote. Perhaps it would be ideal if one large shooting changed the president's mind, but it would be unrealistic to expect that. (Particularly since the guns weren't legal anyway, so he could always make the argument that tighter gun laws won't make much difference to people who aren't even following the existing laws.)
Personally, I would be very wary of any publication where I heard that quote taken out of context. The writers at such a publication likely assume no one will look up the context and may well be misleading on other issues.
Clarification: The guns were purchased legally. The fact that this guy destroyed the serial numbers MADE them illegal. Anyway, if that distinction matters to you, there, I've made it.