In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn and Lindsey Graham were on national television Tuesday, arguing 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,” U.S. Rep. 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,” the Columbia Democrat said. “The same is true of people convicted of hate crimes. We ought not allow them to buy guns.”
Clyburn’s comments came a day after he made headlines for breaking protocol on the House floor Monday 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 in Charleston a year ago, where a white supremacist killed nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church.
U.S. Sen. Graham on Tuesday countered the country needs better intelligence gathering and resources, not gun control.
“All I can say is if gun control could prevent radical Islamic attacks, there would be no attacks in Paris and Brussels,” the Seneca Republican said on FOX News, adding France and other European countries have some of the strictest gun laws in the world.
Democrats’ focus on guns, especially Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s call to ban assault weapons, is missing the point, Graham said.
“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, long had been on the FBI’s radar and even 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 that “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.”
In Columbia: Remembering the Emanuel 9
Here, a sampling of Columbia area events marking Friday’s anniversary of the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston:
THE CHARLESTON NINE: REMEMBERING WITH LOVE, ACTING WITH CONVICTION: 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Pacific Park. There will be testimony by two young men from the community about the impact of gun violence; music and dance, recognition of victims and survivors of gun violence; and audience participation. There will be a ceremony to remember the nine Emanuel victims. Participants will be invited to remember victims of gun violence by adding to the anti-violence memorial tree at the park. 200 Wayne St., behind the gas station next to 701 Whaley. Visit the Faith Coalition on Gun Violence Facebook page for details and resources: https://www.facebook.com/faithcoalitionongunviolence/
A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE AT THE STATE MUSEUM: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday at S.C. State Museum. The museum will offer the public an opportunity to reflect on the lives of the nine people killed in Charleston. Museum guests can write notes about their memories from this day, as well as reflect and share thoughts on recent tragic events. Event is free with general admission. 301 Gervais St. www.scmuseum.org
NINE AT NINE: 8:45 -9:09 p.m. Friday at Hand Middle School. Hand Middle School invites the community to attend its remembrance ceremony to honor the nine Charleston church members killed a year ago. After poetry readings (including poems written by the daughters of the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney) and brief remarks, there will be nine minutes of silence to reflect on the victims. Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight to illuminate the night sky during the ceremony. 2600 Wheat St.
DANCE TO REMEMBER, DANCE TO HEAL: Among the local events marking the anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston is a new ballet from Columbia City Ballet. Columbia City Ballet will produce and perform “Emanuel 9” during its 2017 season as “an homage to the indomitable human spirit.” The ballet will be performed March 31 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and April 7-8 at the Koger Center for the Arts. www.columbiacityballet.com