In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, South Carolina’s Rep. Jim Clyburn and Sen. Lindsey Graham were on national television Tuesday to argue whether stricter gun laws could have prevented the tragedy.
“This is not about ISIS, this is not any kind of foreign terror, this is about guns in America and whether or not we’re going to have some kind of moderation to this Second Amendment,” Clyburn, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, said on MSNBC, describing the shooter as having “a lot of hate, and some of it was self-hate.”
“If you’re on the no-fly list, you ought not be able to buy a gun,” he said. “The same is true of people convicted of hate crimes. We ought not allow them to buy guns.”
Because somebody is misusing Muslims or that faith, we ought not be criticizing the entire religion.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
His comments came a day after he made headlines for breaking protocol on the House floor by following a moment of silence for the Orlando victims by asking House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., when gun legislation would be considered. Ryan silenced him, which caused Clyburn’s Democratic colleagues to break out in shouts of “Where’s the bill?” and “No leadership!”
Clyburn’s question was about gun legislation filed after the shooting a year ago in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist killed nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church.
Graham countered Tuesday that the country needs better intelligence gathering and resources, not gun control. Democrats’ focus on guns, especially Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s call to ban assault weapons, is missing the point, he said.
“All I can say is if gun control could prevent radical Islamic attacks, there would be no attacks in Paris and Brussels,” he said on Fox News, pointing out that France and other European countries have some of the strictest gun laws in the world.
Liberals and libertarians are dismantling the ability to stay ahead of an enemy who wants to come here and hurt us.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
“This is not a gun control issue, it’s a radical Islamic terrorism issue,” Graham said. “They’re religious Nazis. To be gay is to be dead. These people were killed because they were gay.”
The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had long been on the FBI’s radar and had been investigated for 10 months before the agency closed the case, having found no criminal charges to pursue.
“How could we close the file because we can’t prove a crime?” Graham asked on Fox News. “This is not about him buying an assault weapon; this is about the government closing his file because they could not prove a crime. If you’ve got an American citizen or anyone else expressing allegiance or sympathy towards a radical Islamic movement actually associated with a suicide bomber, keep the file open to gather intelligence because we’re fighting a war.”
Clyburn and Graham did agree on the wrong approach: Donald Trump’s renewed calls to prevent Muslims from entering the United States. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, repeated his opposition to Muslim immigration in a speech Monday.
Graham responded: “Banning Muslims does not win the war, it makes it harder to win the war. This guy was not an immigrant; he was born in Queens; he was an American citizen.”
Clyburn also criticized Trump’s focus on singling out Muslims, saying “people misuse religion all the time.”
“Because somebody is misusing Muslims or that faith, we ought not be criticizing the entire religion,” he said on MSNBC. “I’m from South Carolina, and . . . remember the original name of the Ku Klux Klan was the White Knights, White Christian Knights. And so there are renegades in every religion. . . . The Muslim faith, Islamic faith, is an honorable faith and we ought to treat it that way.”