GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons rarely shies away from controversy--even when wading into the contentious debate over gun violence in this country.
Parsons, a gun owner and member of the National Rifle Association, says that firearms aren’t to blame for mass shootings. That’s a hotly-debated and emotional topic, especially after a gunman killed 20 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Since then, some states have tightened gun laws, while more have loosened them. Meanwhile, businesses from Starbucks to Target have asked customers not to bring weapons into their stores. More than 32,300 people died as a result of gun violence in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Parsons, who once famously filmed his shooting of an elephant during a vacation in Zimbabwe, called recent school shootings “terrible,” but says the weapons aren’t to blame for those deaths.
"Until we have a mechanism or a way that we can track people that have mental problems and are a real danger to society, you’re going to continue to have this stuff--whether they use guns, whether they use knives, fire, whatever they use,” he said during a video interview at the Inc. 5000 conference in Phoenix last week.
Parsons added that he did not have such a "mechanism" or specific other fix to propose.
“Just the other day, an individual went berserk on a bus and started stabbing people. ... Well, you know, the knife wasn’t the problem, even though the knife was the tool of the destruction. The problem was the individual,” Parsons said, without providing specifics of that incident. (Though it appears to be this.)
Parsons mentioned his NRA membership when I asked him about his philanthropic endeavors during the video interview. He and his wife, Renee, have donated more than $64 million since 2012, mostly to Arizona charities.
But as he mentioned in a 2009 interview with Inc., Parsons prefers writing checks to spending time on the boards of nonprofits or other charitable organizations.
“I still am very jealous of my time,” he told me last week. “I belong to the NRA, but other than that, that’s about it.”