Washington (CNN)Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Congress needs to put the needs of the country over self-interest and partisan politics to pass gun control legislation.
Jason Kander: Lawmakers need to 'prioritize saving lives over keeping their jobs'
"I think it's important for us to recognize that the American people are ready to take action on this and the Congress is just not listening because in too many districts they're incentivized not to listen," Kander told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Kander argued that many Republican members of Congress, in exchange for endorsements and political funding, have become beholden to the National Rifle Association. It is political interest, not common sense, that is driving the GOP's reluctance to discuss gun control after the Las Vegas massacre, Kander said.
"It's about Republicans who know that these weapons don't belong in the hands of folks just walking around in the street but are worried that they're going to lose a primary because of it. Because the outsized influence of the NRA in Republican primaries and because of the outsized importance of Republican primaries in determining who actually is in the House of Representatives," Kander said.
"People have to prioritize saving lives over keeping their jobs. It's that simple," Kander said. "At the end of the day, there are a whole bunch of people in Congress who think that there is a higher good in retaining their current employment than there is in not having more people die."
Kander, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, has been outspoken in his opposition to the NRA and his calls for greater regulation on gun sales. His 2016 Senate campaign ad -- in which a blindfolded Kander assembled an assault rifle while talking about the need for background checks -- made national headlines.
"That ad was me saying I'm right about background checks and the NRA is wrong and I know what the heck I'm talking about," Kander told Axelrod.
Kander maintains that there is no need for civilians to be able to posses assault weapons.
"I think what I carried in Afghanistan, it is not necessary for somebody to be carrying around here," he said. "They're not for defense. You can't, you don't go hunting with an AR-15, and you don't defend your house with it."
Although Kander lost his Senate bid to incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, he is seen as a Democratic prospect for the 2020 presidential election. Asked whether he has ambitions to run, Kander said "it's possible" he'll participate in an election in the future.
"I'm really focused on making sure we still hold elections right now," he told Axelrod. "But you know, it's if I'm successful it's possible that I'll be in one again. But you know, you never say never."