Here’s What Happened When Ben Carson Was Actually Confronted by a Dangerous Gunman

“I believe you want the guy behind the counter.”

<a href=http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/2016-GOP-Carson/2b8b0e69e2594e79a73db10a15d05295/39/1>Butch Dill</a>/AP


Since last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has made a series of eyebrow-raising comments.

On Monday, he wrote on Facebook, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”

On Tuesday, he appeared on Fox & Friends, where he seemed to suggest that the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting should have responded differently to the heavily armed gunman. “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.'” (Carson was apparently unaware of the story of Chris Mintz, an army veteran who did block the door between the shooter and a classroom full of people, suffering several gunshot wounds and two broken legs in the process.)

On Wednesday, Carson doubled down on these controversial comments in an interview with CBS This Morning. “I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time,” he said. “That way, we don’t all wind up dead.”

That brings us to Wednesday evening, when Carson appeared on a radio show and described an actual episode in which he was faced with a gunman. In Carson’s telling, he responded quite differently in this real-life scenario than he said he would have reacted if faced with a possible shooter. “I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s in Baltimore,” Carson told Sirius XM’s Karen Hunter. “[A] guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Twittersphere pounced:

It makes you wonder what Carson really would have done had he been in that classroom, staring down the barrel of a gun. Clearly, he would definitely not “just stand there.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.