(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.