Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) criticized members of the United States Congress on Sunday for trying to solve a recent spike in mass shootings with ineffectual legislation rather than evaluating how their own divisive rhetoric has contributed to the heated political environment.
“Our hearts break every time we hear of mass shootings, but I’m afraid though that it’s more symptomatic of a decline in our culture,” DeMint said while appearing on Fox News. “I’m not sure any new laws are going to help that.”
“Congress could do more than anything else by setting a better example of how to treat people and how to treat each other,” he continued. “They’re probably the biggest instigators of hate and racism and violence in the country right now themselves. So, they need to look inward at just how they behave.”
DeMint’s comments come nearly a month after two back-to-back mass shootings took the lives of more than 70 victims and injured dozens of others. In the wake of the deadly events, President Donald Trump addressed the nation and called for bipartisan cooperation in determining potential solutions to the recent slew of violence.
Democrats swiftly blamed the president for inciting the mass shootings and accused him of promoting white supremacy in the country. They subsequently urged lawmakers to enact a host of anti-gun legislation such as universal background checks, banning magazines above the standard capacity, and even requiring gun owners to turn over their so-called assault weapons to the government.
“As far as laws go, more federal laws are very unlikely to help. We already have background checks,” DeMint said. “Where we see improvement is at the state and community level where states are doing more to protect buildings and facilities, they’re doing more to try to deal with drug use and mental illness.”
“I’m not sure what the president is going to recommend,” he continued. “But, I am confident that Congress is not the one who can solve this problem except by setting a better example of how we should behave and our civility as a nation.”
Trump, however, suggested imposing gun-control measures such as expanding background checks and red flag laws, which allow for temporary gun confiscation for individuals deemed a danger to oneself or others. Red flag laws, however, have been largely unpopular with Republicans for their inherent lack of due process.
“Fifteen states already have [red flag laws] and we see that they’re not working. They actually give someone who has a grudge against you the ability to send police to your house to take your guns away, to drag you into court,” DeMint said. “It costs you thousands of dollars and for the most part, it’s all been against law-abiding citizens who haven’t created any crime.”
“We have background checks as I’ve mentioned. When they say ‘universal background checks,’ what they’re talking about is a national registry so the government knows who owns guns and what guns they own,” he continued. “But we’ve seen how the government can misuse data like IRS information, and it’s not going to affect law-abiding citizens except by taking their rights away.”
“We do need to look at the problem though,” DeMint added. “We cannot ignore it.”