Jack Welch, a former titan of industry and longtime Republican supporter, weighed into the gun debate on Wednesday, saying he sees many wealthy seniors buying handguns.
New concerns about terrorism have sparked a debate in the United States and around the world, with conflicting views on whether more guns or fewer guns would help prevent deadly violence.
"You can't believe in my community of people 60 and over buying handguns," Welch told CNBC's "Squawk Box," during a broader discussion about GOP presidential politics following Tuesday night's debate. "Everywhere you look, wealthy 60-year-old people are buying handguns."
The management guru and former General Electric CEO said he brought up gun control as an example of the kind of issue being pushed on Americans by President Barack Obama. Democrats generally support more gun control, while Republicans mostly oppose it.
"People are sick of it," he argued, saying Obama's interventionist polices are why GOP front-runner Donald Trump is so popular. "In my view, Donald Trump has touched an enormous nerve. We're sick of Washington." (Welch said he supports Sen. Ted Cruz for president.)
Gun sales in the U.S. have surged since the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Two weeks after the Nov. 13 Paris rampage, more Americans had their backgrounds checked purchasing guns on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, than any day on record, according to the FBI. The 185,345 requests represented a 5 percent increase from the same time last year.
Welch did, however, draw a distinction between handguns and the type of assault weapons used in Paris and San Bernardino. "Machine guns, and some of these [AK-style rifles] shouldn't be out there," he added.
But a majority of Americans feel differently, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Only 45 percent of the people surveyed nationally were in favor an assault weapons ban. That's down from a peak of 80 percent in 1994, when an assault weapons ban went into effect during Bill Clinton's presidency. The ban expired 10 years later.