Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called for “tight” background checks for all gun purchases while also backing gun ownership as a “safeguard” against political tyranny — a day after a lone gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in south Texas.
In an email to CNBC, Musk blamed the media for giving murderers the attention he believes they crave by covering mass shootings.
“Regarding recent events, the shooters are obviously doing this to generate the most amount of attention possible. Why is the media doing exactly what the mass-murderers want?” Musk asked.
Musk companies have a big footprint in Texas. Electric vehicle makers Tesla moved company headquarters to Austin from California last year due to the Lone Star state’s less stringent business regulations, and state and local incentives worth about $64 million.
Tesla officially opened a massive new vehicle and battery factory near Austin in April.
Musk also runs SpaceX, which launches re-usable rockets from Boca Chica, in south Texas.
The CEO has become more vocal politically in recent months, announcing earlier in May that he plans to vote Republican, before he waded into the gun control debate.
He said in emails to CNBC on Wednesday that he supports “tight background checks” for all gun sales and limiting sales of assault weapons to people in special circumstances, like gun range owners, or people who live in a “high risk location, like gang warfare.”
“I strongly believe that the right to bear arms is an important safeguard against potential tyranny of government. Historically, maintaining their power over the people is why those in power did not allow public ownership of guns,” Musk said in another email to CNBC.
At least 19 children and two adults were killed in a mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school on Tuesday, one of a spate of mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year.
Forbes ranks Musk as the richest person in the world with a net worth of over $200 billion. He is in the process of acquiring Twitter for a deal that was originally worth over $40 billion. He said he would let former President Donald Trump, who has been permanently banned from the social network, back on the platform if the deal goes through.
Twitter banned the former president in January 2021 following a siege by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol. At the time, Twitter said it made the decision “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Trump was an avid tweeter and at the time had more than 80 million followers on the platform. Musk has more followers on Twitter now, personally, including legions of shareholders and fans of his companies.
In Republican-dominated Texas, SpaceX is seeking FAA authorization to expand its Boca Chica facility and conduct launches of its Starship Super Heavy vehicles there. Environmentalists and other local groups have pushed back against some of the company’s plans.
Musk was recently accused of sexually harassing a SpaceX flight attendant, according to a report by Business Insider. Musk has denied sexually harassing anyone.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is still scheduled to attend the pro-gun National Rifle Association annual meeting on Friday, counts Musk among his allies. Trump is also set to attend the NRA meeting. Abbott said last year in an interview with CNBC that he speaks with Musk “frequently.”
“Elon had to get out of California because in part of the social policies in California and Elon consistently tells me that he likes the social policies in the state of Texas,” Abbott said at the time, after he introduced a near-ban on abortions in the state.
Musk did not respond when asked if he would call Abbott to push him to strengthen background check laws at the Texas state level. Democratic lawmakers in Congress have called on their colleagues to pass comprehensive gun reform measures since the Texas shooting.
In December, one Tesla worker shot and killed a co-worker in the parking lot of Tesla’s Fremont, California factory.