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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The two biggest-name Republican candidates clearly don’t like each other very much, but in the wake of the tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon they do appear to agree on one thing: There’s nothing we can do about mass shootings.

During a phone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump was asked what measures he would advocate for in order to prevent these events, such as more stringent background checks for gun purchases.

“Well, first of all, you have very strong laws on the books — but you’re always going to have problems,” Trump answered. “I mean, we have millions and millions of people, we have millions of sick people all over the world. It can happen all over the world — and it does happen all over the world, by the way — but this is sort of unique to this country, the school shootings. And you’re going to have difficulty no matter what.”

Upon some further questioning by panelist Willie Geist, as to whether Trump was saying that people will simply “slip through the cracks,” Trump agreed with that phrasing: “You are going to have difficulties. You are going to have difficulties with many different things — not just this. And that’s the way the world works — and by the way, that’s the way the world always has worked, Willie.”

So who could possibly outdo Donald Trump in his blasé reaction to mass murder? Why, none other than his establishment GOP arch-nemesis, Jeb Bush.

At a conservative forum in South Carolina on Friday, Jeb had this to say, after an audience member complained about liberals’ insistence on gun control. (The questioner also lamented that there weren’t prayer vigils at schools before these events happen — since that would be a more useful way to prevent school shootings.)

We’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just — it’s very sad to see. But I resist — I had this challenge as governor. We had — look — stuff happens — there’s always a crisis. The impulse is to do something, and it’s not always the right thing to do.

The short version, “Stuff happens,” quickly went viral online.

Here is video that’s been posted online. (Note: Audio quality is poor, with very low volume.)

When asked afterward whether what he had just said was a mistake, Bush stood by it: “No, it wasn’t a mistake — I said exactly what I said. Why would you — explain to me what I said wrong… Things happen all the time — ‘things,’ is that better?”

Well, at least it’s good to know that someone named Bush thinks it’s wrong, after a terrible crisis, for the government to take a drastic, unconsidered action simply to satisfy the impulse to do something.

At President Obama’s press conference Friday afternoon, Jonathan Karl of ABC News read back a key part of Bush’s response, and then asked Obama for his reaction.

“I don’t even think I have to react to that one,” Obama answered curtly, to laughter from the press corps. “I think the American people should hear that, and make their own judgments, based on the fact that every couple of months we have a mass shooting. And they can decide whether they consider that ‘stuff happening.'”

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