December 19th, 2012
09:58 AM ET
5 years ago

Tim Scott points to 'moral decay' after school shooting

(CNN) - Republican Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the new appointee to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, indicated Wednesday he may oppose any gun control legislation in the Senate next Congress, saying instead the larger issue is one of "moral decay."

"I think the solutions are not necessarily in new legislation. Perhaps the solution starts with us examining the mental condition of the person and the persons in the past that have had the desire to create the atrocities we have seen recently," he said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

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He added that "mental illness should be a major part of the conversation."

Several Democratic senators and the president have underscored a renewed sense of urgency on gun control legislation in the wake of last week's Connecticut school shooting that left 26 people dead, 20 of them children. Among those voicing a call for change are a few conservative Democrats who have good standing with the National Rifle Association, signaling the latest dust-up over gun rights may translate into actual policy changes.

In addition to addressing mental illness, the South Carolina congressman, who starts in the Senate on January 3 after DeMint officially resigns, said the recent crisis should prompt the country "to engage an entire culture of moral decay and of violence."

But as Washington looks for solutions, Scott cautioned that if conclusions are drawn quickly, they may be "flawed."

"I know that we've heard lots of conversations about what we'll be facing in the 113th Congress," he said. "I look forward to that debate."

Scott, a favorite in the tea party movement, was elected to the House in 2010. He'll fill the remainder of DeMint's term, and signaled through a fundraising email Tuesday night that he'll likely run to keep his seat in 2014.

Filed under: Gun rights • South Carolina • Tim Scott
soundoff (409 Responses)
  1. Charles Darwin

    I think there's some truth to the moral decay argument. Americans have been allowed to own guns since this country's inception, but regularity of these mass shootings is a recent phenomena.

    December 19, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. SwilliamP

    Moral decay and deranged individuals with ample access to high powered weapons (not just deer rifles) are two different conversations. The latter is the thing to focus on. A starting point would be adequate backgrond checks emphasizing mental health as well as criminal history- before gun sales are allowed. It won't catch every killer but surely a start is needed even if imperfect...

    December 19, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. kdd2010

    Tim just joined them and he is already at top of the kingmakers club. Congrats. You know I dont know how republicans think and it really baffles me. If there was one or two armed cops there at the school they could have confronted the shooter before killing unprotected children. But noone will talk about that because the cops dont work for free. They want to cut educational funding, they want to lay off policemen and first responders but they still want lunatics to buy guns because it is all about the money not about lives. Then they switch to mental health yet they dont support any program that allow people to have health care. They believe in the survival of the fittest that is why we are back to wild wild west.

    December 19, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    This is why Republicans continue to lose. He was asked for a policy prescription and he had none. Surprised? He was asked why Republicans continue to lose minority and women voters. His response "we need to do a better job of marketing our message". I thought it was the policies the people did not like not the marketing. Clearly if he wants to make a difference he has to lose the dogma and introduce some new policies the bring everyone into the fold. I will not hold my breath.

    December 19, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. usa/canada

    please stop talking about mental illness and moral decay and start telling the truth without the easy access to guns and these larg magazine clips it would be alot less mass killings then you could start talking about mental health and moral decay. Oh and you speak as if america was founded on morals and respect for human kind

    December 19, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  6. Robert Christiansen

    Republican Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina is fully responsibel for encouraging moral decay.

    December 19, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. Roboyd01

    I am a gun person. I own 8 guns and learned to shoot when I was eight. My dad was raised in a small Alabama town in the 40s and it was common for students to be told to leave their guns at the back of the class in the one room school. That's the way life was, and there weren't any problems for it. But that's not today. I find myself surprised at my reaction to the proposal for stricter gun control, because I'm in favor of it. I do blame moral decay, but if gun control can do even a little to help prevent atrocities like this, I say do it. We need to make the sacrifice to make this a safer country. I say act now. Gun cControl, psychiatric treatment, monitoring, counseling.... whatever we can think of. We don't need to choose one over the other. These are our kids. Do it all!

    December 19, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Gary Kendrick

    Rep. Scott is correct in saying moral decay is the problem. Moral decay in that the gun lobbies, gun manufactures, macho men, and gun wing nuts put their right based on an outdated Second Amendment before the lives of far too many innocent Americans. The Second Amendment was to help provide for an army when America was young and every citizen had to be armed to protect against invaders. Armed citizens can no longer provide that protection in modern warfare. There are too many guns on the street, they are too easy to get, too hard to track, and in the hands of people who have no business with a deadly weapon.
    Less guns = less killing.

    December 19, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. JennyTX

    The 2nd Amendment gives us the right to "bear arms." Since when does "arms" specifically mean "high-capactiy assault rifles"? When will they stretch it to the point that "arms" means bombs and nuclear weapons of mass destruction? They keep stretching the definition of "arms."

    December 19, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. Fritz

    Moral decay...I'll tell you what moral decay is...its when your elected officials steal from the Social Security system and don't pay it back and end up jeopardizing everyday citizens retirements and then claim...oh the system is running out of money. I'd like to take all those morons in Congress and line em' up on the edge of the fiscal cliff and give em' a slight nudge...and walk away. That's real moral decay in our society.

    December 19, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. sacreddancer

    THE “INVISIBLES” are all around us. They are the students and the people that we’ve moved aside in our brains, in our vision, in our hearing, in our schools, work and play… for one reason or another. They are the ones that won’t get more than glances from each one of us because they aren’t on the same ‘page’ that most groups or individuals are on. They are ones that are uninvolved in all or most activities, awkward and often speechless. They don’t do well in public settings and like the preverbal kid that constantly get’s picked last to be on everyone’s team, they are the ones that we truly have molded into worse conditions. They are the ones we have forgotten about. This was the 20 year old shooter that killed the children and teachers in Newtown Ct. This was a person that, like it or not, represents perhaps thousands in our world that ‘don’t socialize’ well, according to all accounts. The shooter is one person and yet perhaps could be our poster child reminder of thousands of the ‘invisibles’ that we have delegated to the side in our daily lives. This is not a new problem. It is as old as mankind. The bible says the meek will inherit the earth for many good reasons, not the least of which, if we were all filled with too much pride we would consume each other with our own self-centeredness. While the aggressive ‘wheels of our personalities get all the ‘grease’, the quiet, unassuming, ‘shy ones’ are pushed aside. We have to stop doing this. In the late 70’s a few friends and I formed a ‘ticket’ that made up the frame work of a student council for our senior year at school. We won that year on the platform (pick all of us or pick none of us). That sense of ‘leaving no one behind’, stuck with us and when it came time for us to compete with the other area student councils for the top position , we decided to build our theme upon the ‘invisible student’. We prefixed the idea upon those that aren’t involved in activities. To drum the idea home we chose to dress up as cone heads, (an awkward state indeed) and we incorporated a kindhearted compassionate outreach from a popular story at that time ( “Warm Fuzzies”) to demonstrate how beautiful it could be to reach out to those that feel ‘lost’ and are genuinely ‘left out’ amongst us. Low and behold we won that year as the top Student Council of our district. Perhaps some way this idea can begin a movement of sorts that will create school environments of compassionate communication for everyone, especially for those that are far (in every way) from the majority. Perhaps this will end the silence that is now the breaking into gun shots upon our children. Perhaps… but it is up to each one of us to take the time to reach out to those that aren’t comfortable with “us” in our schools, work and play. WE need to do this before it is too late. We are still alive so now is our chance. Reach out today to someone that no one else is talking to. Do it today and every day. Do it as though you are loving JESUS toward the ‘least’ amongst us. Your heart will feel the love and your love will bloom from where it is planted. LOVE YOU LARGE ALWAYS… THANKS! Kathy

    December 19, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. Amazing

    He is right. The moral decay is in Washington and is represenative of the moral decay that exists among of leaders from both parties.

    December 19, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  13. Jeffrey

    Moral decay may be part of the problem. The difficulty in defining moral decay is whose morals? I don't have a problem with this being part of the discussion, but it cannot be the focus of the problem.

    December 19, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  14. jefft1966

    They blame mental health but talk of cutting family services and mental health access. And they want to cut medicare and SS benefits. So people don't have access... How hypocritical can you get .. Also look at how hard it is for parents with these kids to get help. A lady in Illinois left her daughter at a bar in a different state cause she could handle her and the state wouldn't help..Do you see a trend happening here. And the Republicans want to cut benefits to these people really!!!!

    December 19, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  15. Florida Joe

    This clown will do anything the new head of the Heritage foundation tells him to do, just like the SC Gov

    December 19, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. fernace

    Ok, but is it "mental health" issues or "moral decay" ot both or are they 1 & the same? This kind of confusion could be eliminated if Politicians would adhere to the legality of issues & not the social aspect! What he & others are suggesting is that reinstating school prayer, for ex, will magically pray the "evil" away, instead of doing something bipartisan & meaningful about dangerous weapons! And not what the NRA considers "meaningful"! Even responsible gun owners feel there has to be some sort of change! Please don't tell me gunrights trumps human rights!!

    December 19, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. hannah

    This kid was sick. Pure and simple. It wasn't moral decay, nor lack of love from his mother. He was just a very sick person who needed help with his mental illness and never got it. And his mother made the huge mistake of buying these assault weapons that are used to kill people and not locking them up.Every parent in this country who has a gun in the house should have it and any other gun locked and kept away from the children. Regardlsee. She was irresponsible and she and 26 innocents paid the ultimate price. So sad.

    December 19, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. Facts don't Lie

    as a person who believes in God i find it odd that most of the biggest supporters of gun ownership are "God-fearing Christians" the very same ones that support the death penalty but call themselves "pro-life" To me life is LIFE though I will agree that there are some lives that are far more worthless than others.

    December 19, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Ricke1949

    Let me see. We are killing innocent citizens overseas using drones, severing innocent babies in partial birth abortions, delight is gruesome killings in movies, pay big money for video games with wretching violence and we think the problem is guns. When I grew up in the 50's we 4th graders hunted with guns in the cornfields. No one shot anyone.
    Perhaps we have sunk to a level lower than ancient Rome?

    December 19, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. Rahul G.

    For God so loved the world that He gave it ... guns???

    December 19, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. George

    "Moral decay" is a crock. This happened because of a culture which glamorizes violence, provides easy access to weapons of mass destruction and provides violent movies and video games to kids who are not mature or are alienated from their peers for whatever reason. What do we think these kids are going to do? How many more kids, teens, adults, grandparents, public figures have to die before we admit any of that?

    December 19, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. timz

    "Moral decay" is right! What could be more evident of moral decay than people wanting to own weapons that serve no purpose other than to kill their fellow human beings in wholesale lots.

    December 19, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Randy

    The man is right, more gun control is not the answer.Society itself is most of the problem. How many let your kids play violent video games that promote killing. How many let your child watch television shows full of gore and death. Reality tv promotes friending people to use for your benifet then discard them. Children that are hyper and need a spanking are labeled with ADHD and drugged out of their minds with no thought of long term useage problems. We only pray to god in a school AFTER a tragic event and then ask god tovwatch over us and comfort us. How many have bought your child "call to ops" for christmas??

    December 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. Dustin Goldsen

    We have about 50,000,000 young people in this country (depending on where you draw the line) and of those 50,000,000 about 8, in recent years, have shot up a local school. What that means is that of the 50,000,000 young people, some 49,999.992 did NOT go shoot up a school.

    How can you say a crime is caused by "moral decay" if 8 people committed the crime and 49,999,992 did not?

    December 19, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. digital18

    Aggreed..we have been excusing bad behavior and explaining it away for years. its come back to bite us.
    the lack of family, social responsibility and personal responsibility are all but gone. where were this kids father and older brother.

    December 19, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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