Forget about gun policy or race. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry suggested on Friday that psychiatric drugs could be to blame for Wednesday night’s mass shooting at an historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The former Texas governor made the remarks to Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg when asked if the attack, carried out by white 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, should be described as an act of terror.
“I don’t know, but I think the facts—once we get them—there were more people than that killed in Paris,” referring to January's Charlie Hedbo attacks. “This was a crime of hate, we know that.”
But Perry continued, insisting there was another 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.” Video of the interview was posted on Buzzfeed.
Authorities have not said if Roof—charged with murder for admittedly killing nine churchgoers—had been on any drugs at the time of the shooting, although one of his friends said he had used prescription drugs in the past.
Perry also said President Obama—who has called for stricter gun control in light of the tragedy—was politicizing the shooting, which he called an “accident.”
“This is the M.O. of this administration,” the GOPer argued. “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.”