The U.S. needs to deal with radical Islamic fundamentalism instead of instituting restrictive gun laws, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said Thursday.
Carter, speaking to the Rotary Club of Effingham County, advocated his support of Second Amendment rights Calls for stricter gun control have been made in the wake of the shooting at Orlando, Fla., nightclub Pulse. Forty-nine people were killed there, along with alleged gunman Omar Mir Seddique.
“We’re at war with radical Islamic terrorism,” Carter said. “We have to stay focused on what the problem is, and the problem is radical Islamic terrorism. What happened in Orlando was an attack on us as a nation, it was an attack on our way of life. It was an attack on America. We’re at war. We have to stay focused on what the problem is.”
Some Democrats, including Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, staged a sit-in on the House floor.
“I thought it was one of the worst experiences I have ever witnessed at any level. That sit-in was nothing more than a publicity stunt,” Carter said. “The bill they were trying to get passed had already been put before the Senate and failed. We cannot get off track. We have to stay focused. We’re doing that.”
The husband-and-wife duo of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded more than 20 others in San Bernardino, Calif., last December. Carter said Congress has passed a number bills to deal with the radicalization of American citizens, enabling local governments to identify when there is a problem.
“We’ve got to decide ‘what are we going to do in the way of social media?’” he said.
Carter acknowledged it’s a fine line for the government to monitor social media. He also said Seddique and Farook were atypical of terrorists and attackers.
“What happened in Orlando and San Bernardino falls outside of the mold,” he said. “They were fathers and married. You would think they would be more stable. That’s what makes it so difficult.”
Carter, serving his first term in office, currently is unopposed for a second term. He also called for securing the nation’s borders. Carter said the country needs to pause its influx of immigrants to make sure those coming into the nation aren’t entering with malicious intent.
“The number one responsibility of the federal government is to protect our citizens, and we have to do that with secure borders,” he said.
The 1st Congressional District stretches from Ebenezer Road to the Georgia-Florida state line and over to Valdosta. Within its boundaries are four major military installations. Carter said Congress has appropriated resources to replace the Ohio-class Trident submarines at Kings Bay Naval Base. Of the Navy’s 14 Trident subs, six are based at Kings Bay in Camden County.
Congress also has protected the A-10, and Moody Air Force Base outside of Valdosta is home to the 23rd Fighter Wing, the largest contingent of A-10s. There also is money to replace the hangars at Hunter Army Airfield, which Carter called “atrocious.”
“They’re about to fall down, and we’ve got to replace those,” he said.
The port of Brunswick is No. 3 in the country for roll-on/roll-off operations for vehicles being shipped, and Savannah’s port is the No. 2 container port on the Eastern seaboard. With the Panama Canal now open to larger ships, the Savannah harbor is being deepened to 47 feet.
The state has kicked in $266 million for its share in the project. But the federal government allocated only $47 million this year.
“The post-Panamax ships are now coming. We’re missing out on business as we speak because we don’t have our harbor deepened,” Carter said. “Every day we don’t have that done is business we’re missing out on. We did our part as a state. Now it’s time for the federal government to step up. We need $100 million over the next four years. What I have trouble articulating to the administration is that that project does us no good if it’s halfway done. We’re working diligently on that.”
Carter also decried the reach and power of federal agencies operating out of the administration branch. He said the new overtime rule will kill small businesses and also lambasted the recent judiciary and joint employer rules.
“It’s amazing what’s going on,” he said. “It wasn’t us in Congress; it was the agencies promulgating these rules. They’re out of control. We took EPA back to 2008 funding levels. You get their attention through their pocketbook. I’m fine with term limits for elected officials. You sure better have them for bureaucrats, too. It was a problem at the state level and it’s more of a problem at the federal level.”
Carter was on a conference call with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Ryan and House Republicans have rolled out their agenda called A Better Way. Their six-pronged approach tackles poverty, health care, tax reform, national security, the economy and the Constitution.
“Obamacare is not working,” Carter said. “We have to replace it. We rolled out our health care initiative last week. It is a framework for what will be a good plan.”
Carter, the only pharmacist in Congress, had a hand in formulating A Better Way’s health care plan.
“It is a good plan,” he said. “We learned a lesson with Obamacare that was so big you couldn’t read through. We tried to get ours to where it was the 30,000 foot level. It looks at health savings accounts and puts the free market back into health care.”
Ryan, a disciple of the late Jack Kemp, worked diligently on the poverty piece of the plan, Carter said.
“We hope it’s something the Republican nominee for president will get behind and it will be something we can work on,” he said.
The House Republicans want to reform the tax code to make it simple enough to put on a postcard, Carter added. The plan combines elements of the fair tax and the flat tax. Carter said the current tax code is pushing companies overseas.
While there remains a great deal of partisan divide, Carter said both parties have joined together to enact crucial legislation regarding Medicare, averting a bailout of Puerto Rico and dealing with opioid addiction.
“Opioid problem and addiction is the leading cause of accidental death in this country,” he said. “The president has acknowledged this as well. He has funding in his budget for opioid treatment and I applaud him for that. It will help. It’s not a silver bullet. It will help with more treatment. It will help with more deterrence and that’s what we need.”
However, divisions remain over gun control and gun rights.
“I am not going to take away citizens’ rights without due process,” he said.
Carter also expressed his disappointment in the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion clinics in Texas.
“Texas was trying to do nothing more than making sure health care was safe,” he said. “We’re going to make it as safe as we can. A doctor performing an abortion has privileges at a hospital within 30 miles so that if something happens to the mother, he can take care of it at a hospital. We were going to make abortion centers follow the same rules as ambulatory surgical centers.”
Carter added the next president may have as many as four Supreme Court nominees in their term. The court, which is allotted nine justices, currently only has eight following the death of Antonin Scalia.
Even with the in-fighting in Congress and the philosophical differences, Carter sounded a hopeful tone.
“I remain optimistic and that was the message of our speaker during today’s conference call,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to work to provide the opportunities for our citizens to become successful. I still feel like we live in the greatest country in the world. I know we’ve got obstacles. Call me naïve if you will, but I still believe our greatest days are ahead of us.”