LOUIVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- In Louisville for a speech to the firearms industry and sport shooting advocates, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said the United States needs to enforce current gun laws, not make new ones.
In an exclusive interview with WHAS11 News, Pawlenty was asked about an "Al-Qaida in America' video released last week which pushes jihadists to take advantage of lax firearms laws to get weapons at gun shows.
Because of what's referred to as the "gun show loophole - people can purchase semiautomatic weapons and extended magazines at gun shows without undergoing a background check.
"I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," Pawlenty said, "It says what it says, which is we should have the right to keep and bear arms."
Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Shooting Sports Summit, which was closed to the public and the news media.
"Al-Qaida has taken it upon itself to get all kinds of weapons and try to get all kinds of weapons and we need to make sure that we are vigilant as a country in identifying and defeating that threat," Pawlenty said, "but as they take airplanes and kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens and some are trying to get weapons of mass destruction, I think that's where the main focus for us should be, not whether they get handguns and of course we need to have appropriate laws for that as well."
Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) says the idea that terrorists could easily obtain weapons in our country is startling, "... but hopefully this news will direct attention to the public safety threats of the gun show loophole, which should be closed immediately," Yarmuth said in a statement.
A spokesman for Southern Indiana Republican Todd Young (R-IN) says he is "very troubled" by the news.
"We'll continue to monitor this situation closely while also keeping in mind our citizen's Second Amendment right," said spokesman John Connell.
Pawlenty says it's about enforcing the gun laws the United States already has.
"In terms of making sure that our companies follow the current laws," Pawlenty continued, "I'm not proposing new restrictions on firearms in America."