December 19th, 2012
09:58 AM ET
2 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. i'm confused

    Why is it that every time I hear a republican express their opinions, all I hear is self righteousness & ignorance?

    December 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. Joe Hill

    t-bone- the kids were shot to death, not sexed to death.

    December 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. local

    Totally agree. The morality today is just crapola. Parents no longer takeing respnseability for their childen. They blame it on anything and everything. Take care of your business at home and it does not matter what everyone else does. It ALL starts at the home.

    December 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Turk

    Nobody ever visited inside the house. Mom, paranoid gun owner. Kids never played outside. When a mom is a total control freak and her child murders her, that SCREAMS CHILD ABUSE. Likely from a very young age. California just enacted Assembly Bill 1050 to allow kids age 14 to swap living with the bad parent for the good parent, usually swap psycho controlling moms for quiet nice dads. All states need this law! Child Abuse KILLED those kids in Newtown! Or lack of protection for abused kids.

    December 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. California Gary

    Moral decay? A good example of that is congressmen who won't do what they know is right and would help curb any future attempts at mass killings because they don't want to cross the organization that funds their campaigns and works on their behalf at election time. There is your moral decay in a nutshell.

    December 19, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. GIUK

    We should listen to Scott; if anyone knows about moral decay, it's a Republican.

    December 19, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. marshu

    Oh please. This debate is nothing new and I have listened to the NRA's apologists my entire life. The facts are these – we are armed to the teeth and have the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Throwing more guns on the streets simply is not going to combat the 'moral decay' this wing nut so righteously claims exists in this country. Were the good and decent folks of Newton immoral?

    How about these stats:

    Oct. 16, 199122 killed, 20 wounded: Killeen, Texas

    December 19, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Terry Miller

    UGH. So now we have to put up with Tim Scott in the Senate of the United States. Whose morality does he want to use as the center pole? His? Please tell him to worry about his own morality and the rest of us citizens will worry about each other. We don't want him spending his time pushing morality in the Senate. TM

    December 19, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Scott

    @TBone: Or...it could be argued that conservatives have driven this process due to their excessive greed and complusion toward extremism. Nice generalizations T-Bone!

    December 19, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. LeeCMH

    Moral decay...

    Like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, blaming the people they hate for all the ills of the world.

    December 19, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Guido

    The Congress only has to look in the mirrors in the restroom if they want to see where the moral decay is. How can we expect the people to be better than their leaders. Leaders are supposed to inspire, instead they have their hands in the pockets of lobbyists and are concerned only with their reelection and personal wealth.

    December 19, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. MillieBea

    Newtown was once voted the safest plac ein the US. The people there are community and small town-minded. There is no lack of morality in Newtown. This is a hollow argument for those who do not want to do the heavy lifting of actually reacting with a plan of action and putting it into place- which is not sexy and won't get you sound bites.

    December 19, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. gerr

    Is this guy claiming he is going to change the morals of 300 million Americans and therefore gun controls are not needed?

    December 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Michael

    The larger issue is not “moral decay.”

    The larger issue is the GOP politics of division, which pits the mentally ill against the “you are on your own” GOP mindset. So divided from the American Dream, the mentally ill have no place in our purportedly Christian society, and no where else to go, except inward, and then outward with an explosion of frustration, rage, and deadly violence against those few who are more vulnerable than they are—our babies.

    This same GOP politics of division is taking us over the fiscal cliff.

    End the politics of division now, and you begin to solve two of our greatest challenges, before it’s too late.

    December 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. KLARGAR

    To all the anti gun control people you have the blood of 20 innocent children on your hands period. It will never wash off not under your strongest denials or deflections. It will drip in your dreams and in your waking hours and one day you will feel the pain of losing your child to a bullet. Sleep well.

    December 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. DAA

    Right Chronic Cheater...and I suppose all the criminals will turn their weapons in too. Think before you make a stupid statement.

    December 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. DC Observer

    Moral decay? Yup, that is pretty much what is happening in America today. Do yo uwant to fix it?

    1. Bring back school prayer.
    2. Put the Christmas back in Christmas
    3. Try a LARGE step – a constitutional amendment citing that the US is a CHRISTIAN NATION – UNDE GO, and we will allow the christian religion is schools and government BUT, like our founding fathers said, we will tolerate and allow any religion to practive freely here - BUT we want Christ back in our lives everywhere
    4. Try censoring the horrific violent video games
    5. Put GOD back in the pledge of allegiance.
    6. It is NOT "happy Holiday" It is Merry Christmas

    December 19, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. helpless

    t-bone is right. Gun control? May help somewhat. I would vote for it. However it's not the main culprit and we all know that. The guns have been around for hundreds of years and it is only 1999 when Columbine started the series of violence. So, what had changed the young minds? All the violence and moral decay emanating from Hollywood? video games? Social network? All of the above? The Hollywood industry's generous donation to Obama pays off: he never mentions this important cause, only NRA.

    December 19, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "Compare life today to that of the 50's."

    Yeah, American society was so much more "moral" when racism and sexism were firmly institutionalized in our laws and our gov't was putting a new "In God We Trust" stamp on our coins in order to fight off any influence of the godless pinko commies. Clearly, if we'd just turn some firehoses on people once in a while, it would fix everything.

    December 19, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Blaming it on "moral decay", whatever that actually means, is MUCH easier than actually doing something to solve the problem. Good job, Republicans. You've once again were able to take an instance where you might learn a lesson, and instead blamed the boogey man...

    December 19, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. JecBeanz

    He's spot on. I agree that we need to look at "gun control" – but this is such a bigger issue than that. It's how guns and violence are portrayed in this society. Hollywood glorifies gun-slingers and other weapon-carrier types. Hollywood glorifies violence to solve problems – not speaking or reasoning.

    We've always had guns in this country – since the day we were founded. We've always had people who had mental issues.. But we haven't seen this type of nonsensical violence until very recently, especially being displayed by young adults. If we take only one approach by focusing on "guns" – we'll miss the problem completely. It's bigger than that.

    Graphic violence has become a staple in the entertainment industry – whether it is movies, television, music or video games. As a adults, most of us can understand that difference between reality and fantasy. But for children – they do not have the same capacity. Not an opinion – that's a fact. Their brains are not fully matured until their mid-20's. Yet – we subject them to images of graphic violence and sex – nonstop. Youtube, internet, Hollywood – it's everywhere. They can't get away from it. It's desensitizing.

    A short term solution is having more "armed" officers at schools and additional controls on guns. But that is short term and is not enough. A long term solution, however, is to look at what influences our young people are subjected to and the harmful effects they may have. We may have to give up some of our "entertainment value" for the good of all of us.

    December 19, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. bpj13

    Rep. Scott is 100% correct. America has been in steady decline since taking God and any reference to Him out of our schools.

    December 19, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Canderson

    The only "moral decay" in our society is the proliferation of assault style weapons that are being used legally or illegally against innocent people. Thank God many in NRA and conservatives are now saying "enough is enough". This clown is clearly in the minority today. Typical of the Tea Party, he is far behind the times.

    December 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Chris

    @t-bone- So I'm confused; if it is "mental headcases" that are the problem, what does sexual innuendo on television have to do with anything? Are you suggesting that expressing sexual reality on television somehow leads to physical and psychological problems? I agree that a sick society can create sick people, but I'd take sexual innuendo any day over Jim Crow. If you want to blame liberals for that transition- from bigotry to open expression- then I welcome the title. But good job taking a very sensitive issue, absolving access to weapons from any blame, and shifting the blame from one severely messed up person to a political ideology which you probably blame for everything else wrong in your life.

    December 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Starwyze

    Complicated? No. It comes down to one's mental ATTITUDE. Respect for life is declining, and we are desensitized by years of war images and the constant onslaught of violent movies and video games. It is not moral decline but brain conditioning. Life has become a video game or reality TV show that morphs at our will. No one really bleeds anymore. On the other hand, most of the seven billion people on the planet are good, decent people who are now saying ENOUGH of this violence.

    December 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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