LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said a concealed handgun carried by a faculty member or student at Virginia Tech might have reduced the toll from Monday's shooting spree by a student.
"If somebody had been able to stop the shooter before he was able to kill that many people, there may not have been that many," the former Arkansas governor said Thursday in an interview with radio station KUAR at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in response to a question about carrying concealed weapons.
A longtime hunter, Huckabee has spoken publicly before about his support for concealed-weapon permits — and his own license to carry.
Seung-Hui Cho, 23, killed 32 people Monday on the Virginia Tech campus before taking his own life.
Huckabee stressed that a renewed debate over gun control is not the proper reaction to the Virginia Tech deaths. He said the nation instead should discuss mental health issues — particularly how an obviously sick young man managed to slip through the cracks.
"What was really most troubling about this situation was not just his choice of mayhem in terms of a weapon, but more disturbing was the fact that here was a clearly mentally person who was exhibiting many, many signs and he still slipped through the system and was able to do this," Huckabee told the radio station by telephone from New Hampshire, where he is campaigning.
Huckabee cautioned against using tragedy as a springboard to "take away" the rights of others.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- David Huckabee, a son of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was arrested at an Arkansas airport Thursday after a federal X-ray technician detected a loaded Glock pistol in his carry-on luggage.
"I removed the bag and asked Mr. Huckabee if he knew what he had in the bag," Little Rock police officer Arthur Nugent wrote in a report after being summoned to a security checkpoint. "He replied he did now."
Huckabee, 26, later pleaded guilty in Little Rock District Court after being charged with a misdemeanor count of possessing a weapon in a prohibited place.
"It was a silly mistake," Huckabee told reporters as he left the Pulaski County Jail. When asked whether it would affect his father's presidential campaign, Huckabee responded, "It shouldn't."
District Judge Lee Munson gave Huckabee a one-year suspended jail sentence and ordered him into 10 days of community service - which Huckabee can avoid by paying $100. Huckabee will be on probation for a year. Fines and costs totaled $855.
The son of the former Arkansas governor held a concealed weapons permit at the time of the incident but state police are taking steps to revoke it. The elder Huckabee, who said last week that Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho perhaps could have been stopped if a teacher or student had also been armed, also has a concealed weapons permit.
"My wife and I love our son. What he did was irresponsible but not intentional," Mike Huckabee said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Nugent said David Huckabee had a .40-caliber Glock pistol in his black carry-on bag. Eight live rounds were in the gun - none in the chamber - and a nine-round clip was also in the bag. The weapon and ammunition were detained by Little Rock police while David Huckabee's gun permit was seized and given to the Arkansas State Police.
Mike Huckabee said his son grabbed the bag on the way to the airport and didn't realize the gun was inside.
"It's one of those stupid things," Mike Huckabee said. "He knows better."