Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump says he sometimes carries a gun to protect himself, after a spate of shootings at colleges ramped up debate about firearms in the United States.

The revelation is likely to spark a backlash from advocates calling for tighter control of guns, after three separate shootings at US universities or colleges this month left 11 people dead.

Asked why years ago he obtained a concealed weapons permit, Trump told the CBS program “Face the Nation”: “Because I like to have myself protected.”

Host John Dickerson then asked Trump: “Do you carry?”

“Sometimes,” replied Trump, whose popularity has surged on the back of a series of bombastic comments on a range of sensitive topics, including immigration and gun control.

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