Mike Huckabee Is Wrong On Charleston Shootings

by Tiffany Thomas

People are still trying to make sense of the gruesome shooting last week that left nine people dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. But some conservative legislators have taken extra pains to say that the Charleston shooting was motivated by religion, not race. Even after 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof confessed to the massacre — and an alleged manifesto by Roof has surfaced outlining his plan to start a race war — Republicans are loathe to place the blame squarely on Roof’s shoulders. Within hours of the murders, South Carolina senator and presidential candidate Lindsay Graham appeared on The View to say he believed the Roof was motivated by a hatred of Christianity. Graham was quickly joined by Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, who argued the attacks were actually an assault on religious freedoms. But in particular, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee seems determined to blame the Charleston victims rather than the gunman.

In a series of interviews over the weekend, Huckabee told reporters that the real tragedy wasn’t that Roof executed nine innocent people in an attempt to make some misguided political statement. In an interview with Fox News, Huckabee said if members of the church had concealed carry permits, the shooting may not have happened at all.

The one thing that would have at least ameliorated the horrible situation in Charleston would have been that if somebody in that prayer meeting had a concealed carry or there had been either an off-duty policeman or an on-duty policeman — somebody with the legal authority to carry a firearm and could stop the shooter.
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In another interview on the CATS Roundtable Radio Show on AM970, Huckabee said the real tragedy was that the slayings happened in a church.

I think the heartbreak for what happened in Charleston was it happened in a church, in a sanctuary, a place where people go for refuge, to be safe, to escape, the horrors of the world and to find God. It’s a place normally where Earth meets heaven, and Wednesday night it was a place it was a place where Earth met hell.

Rather than questioning Roof's ability to get a firearm, Huckabee managed to blame the victims of the shooting for their own deaths. By that argument, it would have been better for church-goers to have confronted Roof in some kind of shootout until police arrived on the scene. Classy.

The concealed-carry argument is one that often surfaces after mass shootings. Following the Newtown shooting, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert made the same argument in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

You know, having been a judge and having reviewed photographs of these horrific scenes and knowing that children have these defensive wounds, gun shots through their arms and hands as they try to protect themselves, and, hearing the heroic stories of the principal, lunging, trying to protect — Chris, I wish to god she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.
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The problem is that the truth about gun violence is far more complicated. According to nonpartisan voter project, gun deaths are down in states with concealed carry laws — but states without concealed carry legislation have also seen a drop in gun deaths. It’s nearly impossible, according to an analysis on the website, to make a causal link.

Regardless of the facts, Huckabee and others seem determined to focus on exactly what this shooting is not: an example of why communities need more guns. Here’s another quote from Huckabee's interview on Fox News:

The best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one he is using.

No, the best way to stop the shooting might have been to make it more difficult to place a gun in the hands of someone looking to harm innocent people.

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