Charleston Shooting

Rand Paul: Mass Shootings Symbolize a 'Sickness' That Can't Be Fixed by More Government

Comments cater to religious conservatives without supporting a federal role in solutions.


Psychosis is not contagious.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

Jesse Walker just noted how President Barack Obama's response to the mass killing of a group of people in a chuch in Charleston, South Carolina—calling for more gun control—is likely not going to get him what he wants.

For the most part, candidates for president in 2016 are keeping their statements short and simple, offering condolences and prayers for the families affected by the violence. The Washington Post has a roundup of responses here. Hillary Clinton joined Obama's call for more gun control, and some candidates have canceled events in South Carolina.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took a little bit of a different tack. Speaking at a luncheon for religious conservatives, Paul actually already pushed back at the "the government must do something about this" type of response. Via Bloomberg:

At the opening luncheon of the Faith & Freedom Coalition's annual Washington, D.C. conference, where he shared the stage with two other Republican presidential contenders, Paul went out of his way to address the massacre that left nine people dead in Charleston after a gunman opened fire in a predominantly black church.

"We had the shooting this morning," he said. The senator, who has been outspoken on the subject of racial violence, suggested that the problem is bigger and deeper than politics and policy.

"What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people?" Paul  lamented. "There's a sickness in our country. There's something terribly wrong. But it isn't going to be fixed by your government. It's people straying away, it's people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we'll have better expectations of what to expect from government."

Paul regularly approaches religious conservatives on the campaign with the attitude that there's something wrong or "sick" within American culture that is due to folks turning away from salvation. But unlike conservative busybodies like former Gov. Mike Huckabee or Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), he doesn't seem as quick to call on more government as the solution to what ails America's morals.

Still, there's little evidence that there's anything resembling a "sickness" in our culture. American society is not getting more violent or dangerous. It's getting less. It's great that Paul isn't pandering to social conservatives who want to use government as a tool against non-believers, but maybe don't even pander to the fears either.