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Story highlights

Jeb Bush wrote an editorial backing gun rights that was publish Monday

In it, he's stresses cracking down on criminals and touts steps he took as governor

He also slammed Hillary Clinton for her comments about the NRA

(CNN) —  

Jeb Bush staunchly defended Second Amendment rights in an op-ed published Monday, hitting Hillary Clinton for declaring the NRA as one of her enemies.

While the op-ed is pegged to the kick-off of deer hunting season and was scheduled prior to last week’s shooting at Planned Parenthood, it nonetheless comes amid the latest round of the gun control debate sparked by the violence in Colorado.

The Republican presidential candidate didn’t mention the Colorado shooting in his opinion piece, which was published by the Iowa Republican, but he argued that gun control measures aren’t the answer to gun violence.

“Liberals like Hillary Clinton always hold up gun control as a panacea to crime, even though the proposals they have put forward would have done nothing to stop any of the tragic shootings that have occurred recently in America,” he wrote.

Instead, Bush called for cracking down on gun-wielding criminals and improving the national instant background check system “so we can prevent people with mental illnesses from purchasing firearms.”

The former Florida governor listed a number of measures he enacted in the Sunshine State, including the “10-20-Life” law that determined the number of years in prison that a person convicted of a gun crime was sentenced.

The gun control debate reignited over the holiday weekend after a gunman killed three and injured nine others at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying “we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them,” while Clinton weighed in on the matter Sunday night in New Hampshire.

“How many more Americans need to die before we take action? Common sense steps like comprehensive background checks, closing the loopholes that let guns fall into the wrong hands, even people on the terrorist watch list,” she said.

Bush has not spoken publicly about the Colorado shooting, though he issued a statement Saturday night, calling it a “tragic incident” and argued that “there is no acceptable explanation for this violence, and I will continue to pray for those who have been impacted.”

In his op-ed, Bush wrote about Florida becoming the first state in the country to enact Stand Your Ground laws. “I believed then, as I do know, that the Second Amendment is the original Homeland Security Act,” he wrote. “Law-abiding citizens should have the right to protect themselves from criminals, at home and in their communities.”

Bush regularly touts the A+ rating he received from the NRA and that he was once awarded NRA statesman of the year, a designation that earned him a rifle from Charlton Heston.

Drawing a contrast, he argued that Clinton “sent a shot across the bow of every gun owner” when she called the NRA one of her enemies in the CNN Democratic debate.

“Hillary Clinton is on record supporting gun bans and it is obvious that she will pursue a legislative agenda that would infringe upon the rights of responsible gun owners,” he wrote.