South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is just as appalled by the shootings in a Black church as anyone else, but he’s obviously in the midst of the heartbreak in the city. The murder of 9 parishioners at historic Emmanuel AME Church in Columbia, S.C. has the nation reeling and one again examining the psychology of race and experiencing the devastation of mass shootings. Scott lost a personal friend – pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney
“He was a man of great faith, optimism, a hopeful and gregarious personality. Let’s not forget that he and his congregation represented the best of who we are as Americans. To have so many lives cut short has a devastating impact in the history of our country and in our state,” Scott says.
Dylann Root, the 21-year-old shooter who has reportedly confessed to the murders, was able to purchase a gun, reports say, despite the fact that he was facing felony charges in a drug case. That would normally preclude anyone from purchasing a weapon.
“I spoke to the President yesterday. He called to give me his condolences and we talked through some issues and some challenges that we face and ways to go forward. I think we will see over the next several weeks how do we as a nation deal with the challenges that we so often face and leaving people without answers,” Scott says.
“I was looking through Scripture and there’s one in Proverbs 18:14 that talks about how even when you’re suffering through sickness and today my sickness is a broken heart, your spirit still has to stay strong. My takeaway from that is to look to the future and find that all that can be done, all that should be done, is done. And whether we can reach agreement or not, my responsibility is to look first for those solutions and to vet them in a way to help me help others avoid these types of challenges.”
Scott says that as the crime relates to gun control, there are no easy solutions, if there are any at all.
“It is already illegal to bring the gun into the church,” Scott says. “So the law was broken. It was a handgun, so unless you’re thinking about and I’m not going to support banning handguns, I’m not sure how you do that. He was already [facing] felony charges so he was willing to break that law, too. When we start having a serious conversation on gun control, we should make sure that the appreciation for the gun laws that are broken along the way…”
At this point Scott is interrupted by the TJMS crew, who protest that gun laws are too weak in the first place. J. Anthony Brown says that guns can be purchased at fairs in South Carolina. Scott responds to the President’s statement that the U.S. has more mass gun violence than any other country in the developed world.
“When there are strict guns laws like there are in China, the fact of the matter is that mass murders happen with other weapons,” says Scott. “When there is violence in the heart, when there is violence and hatred in the heart, the weapon of choice changes, but it doesn’t stop the actual manifestation of the evil. What I hope to do is have a serious conversation going forward. What your solution is right now is to create a law when all the laws that exist have been broken. It’s the old saying that laws were made for honest people. If you want to get into something, you’re going to break the law to get into it.”
As far as the racial elements of the crime, Scott says that he’d love to have the conversation about that.
“I absolutely think we have the responsibility to engage our constituents and our citizens and to have a serious conversation about how to move forward as one nation. I’m looking forward to that conversation, absolutely.”
J. Anthony Brown’s response: “You’re got the nothing rhetoric down, sir.”
Scott says: “I know you guys have to perform over there, you guys are having a good time, while I’m looking for ways to solve these problems. At the end of the day, when I decided to work on education issues, it was to help people who desperately needed help. When I started working on the body cameras issue, it was to help people that I thought needed help, because I believe that the legislation we’re working on on body cameras… ”
At this point, the Senator is thanked as the segment runs out of time.
Listen above for the entire interview.