A South Carolina Republican state lawmaker is blaming the nine victims shot and killed in a Charleston Black church last week for not having guns to defend themselves.
Bill Chumley is a Republican State Representative serving the people of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is one of just ten House lawmakers who voted Tuesday evening against opening up discussion to remove the Confederate flag from the front of the State House. And he is the second Republican in the week since white nationalist Dylann Roof slaughtered nine members of a Charleston Black church to blame the victims for their own deaths.
"Weâ€™re focusing on the wrong thing here. We need to be focusing on the nine families that are left and see that this doesnâ€™t happen again," Chumley, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told CNN's Drew Griffin Tuesday night after the vote. "These people sat in there, waited their turn to be shot. Thatâ€™s sad. But somebody in there with the means of self defense could have stopped this. And weâ€™d have less funerals than weâ€™re having."
A somewhat stunned Griffin pressed on.
"Youâ€™re turning this into a gun debate? If those nine families asked you to take down that flag, would you do it?," Griffin asked.
"You said guns," he told Griffin. "Why didnâ€™t somebody, why didnâ€™t somebody just do something? I mean, you got one skinny person shooting a gun, you know I mean, we need to take, and do what we can."
Even more stunned, Griffin said, "I want to make sure I understand what you're telling me. Are you asking that these people should have tackled him, these women should have fought him?" Griffin asked.
"I donâ€™t know what, I donâ€™t know what the answer was. But I know itâ€™s really, really horrible for nine people to be shot and I understand that he reloaded his gun during the process," Chumley answered, with a smirk. "Thatâ€™s, thatâ€™s upsetting, very upsetting."
Chumley, a Baptist church deacon who has a 92 percent rating from the NRA, voted last year for a bill that authorizes carrying concealed weapons into businesses that serve alcohol.
The day after the shooting,Â NRA board memberÂ Charles CottonÂ blamedÂ PastorÂ Clementa Pinckney for his own murderÂ â€“ and the deaths of his eight fellow Bible study group members, writing, "he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."
Here's Rep. Chumley, via CNN:
â€” Anderson Cooper 360Â° (@AC360) June 24, 2015
Some responses via Twitter:
Racists gonna racist. #Chumley
â€” Matt Murphy (@MattMurph24) June 24, 2015
â€” Scott Wooledge (@Clarknt67) June 24, 2015
just watched that William Chumley interview. Are we sure he's fit to hold office?
â€” W.E.B.B.I.E DuBois (@fivefifths) June 24, 2015
Senator William Chumley.... wow. You're disgraceful. For your own good never speak again. #ac360
â€” Craig Kittle (@CraigKittle) June 24, 2015
â€” Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 24, 2015