FLINT, Mich. (WOOD) — With the nation watching and his daughter in a hospital bed, Gene Kopf asked the Democratic presidential candidates for an answer to the gun problem in America.
His 14-year-old daughter, Abigail, was among the eight people shot, six of whom were killed, during a shooting spree in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area on Feb. 20. Abigail was shot in the head and it seemed for a time that she may not survive, but her father said on Sunday that she is laughing and giggling. She is expected to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility this week.
Gene Kopf addressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at a Democratic presidential debate in Flint on Sunday evening.
“What do you plan to do to address this serious epidemic (of gun violence)?” Kopf asked. “I don’t want to hear anything about tougher laws for mental health or criminal backgrounds, because that doesn’t work.”
Clinton discussed attempting to “limit the numbers of people and the kinds of people” who can get guns and closing loopholes in checks. Sanders admitted there is no “magic solution to this problem” but said we must do everything possible to minimize the chance of a mass shooting.
Kopf was unimpressed with their responses, he told Media General contributors afterward.
“I don’t think either one really addressed the cause of the issue. It’s clear that they’re trying to address some of them. Bernie’s trying to do the social issues. He’s against the assault rifles; that’s good. Hillary, she did mention some items,” he said. “But neither one is really addressing the gun violence culture.”
The man who authorities say shot Kopf’s daughter, Jason Dalton, owned the gun used in the spree legally. He had no criminal background or known history of mental health problems. There was nothing to stop him purchasing a gun. His victims seem to have been chosen at random.
Kopf said he and his wife, Vicki, first learned of the shootings on the news, but didn’t know their daughter was involved until they got to the hospital.
“We saw some things I just don’t want describe,” he told contributors.
Kopf said he’s not against guns, but that Americans need to change the way we think about them:
“I think we first need to address this culture right now of why does everyone want a gun?”
Killed in the shooting spree in the Kalamazoo area were Tyler Smith, Rich Smith, Dorothy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye and Mary Lou Nye.
Wounded was Tiana Carruthers, whose condition also continues to improve.