Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters after announcing that he will run for president in 2016 June 4, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty

After S.C. ‘accident,’ Perry downplays gun issue

About a year ago, following a mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California, Joni Ernst was asked whether it was appropriate for her to air TV campaign ads in which she pointed a gun directly at the camera. The right-wing Iowan, who went on to win her U.S. Senate race, replied, “I would not - no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad.”
It’s true that the murders happened after the ad, but to call the killing spree an “accident” seemed like a poor choice of words.
Today, the word came up again, this time in reference to the massacre in Charleston. Right Wing Watch highlighted Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s remarks to Newsmax this morning:
[The former Texas governor] said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”
“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this – the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.
Reality tells a very different story. First, President Obama has never even suggested Americans shouldn’t own firearms. There remains an important difference between safeguards that are consistent with the Second Amendment and a knee-jerk assumption that any and all safety measures are attempts to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”
And second, I can think of a lot of words to describe the mass shooting in South Carolina, but “an accident” isn’t a phrase that comes to mind. {Update: see below.]
In the same interview, Perry acknowledged that the Charleston murders were “a crime of hate,” but then turned his attention to, of all things, drug abuse.
“Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me – again without having all the details about this – that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”
It wasn’t altogether clear who the GOP candidate was referring to when he mentioned ‘these individuals.”
* Update: Perry campaign aides say the former governor misspoke; he meant to say “incident,” not “accident.” That certainly makes more sense. That said, Perry was also wrong in his characterization of the president’s position and his argument that drug abuse, but not guns, ought to be part of the conversation is difficult to take seriously. This isn’t, in other words, just about the unfortunate use of the word “accident.”