The man who allegedly shot nine people at a historic black church in Charleston last week in the hopes of fomenting a race war has ultimately brought the community closer together, Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, said Sunday.
"When we look for the reasons why this happened, it's hard to understand when evil is just overtaking our heart. The mind is just demented. This was obviously a case of racism. His actions were driven by hatred," Scott said on CBS' "Face the Nation." But, he added, "What he's done for South Carolina, and what he's done for Charleston is he's brought our community together."
Scott predicted that the shooting will ultimately spark a "robust conversation" about race relations, of which he plans to be a part.
"The entire state now is, without any question, taking a leap forward. What the enemy meant for evil, I believe God will bring good out of it," he said.
In addition to race relations, the shooting has sparked a discussion about South Carolina's use of the Confederate flag on the state capitol. Although the American flag and state flag are flying at half-staff to honor the victims, the Confederate flag remains at the normal height because of state law.
The flag also remains an offensive symbol to many people because it was the emblem of the pro-slavery South during the Civil War. The man accused of the massacre -- 21-year-old Dylann Roof -- was pictured with a license plate bearing the Confederate flag.
Some Republican politicians have called publicly for the flag to be removed in the wake of the shooting. But Scott says he'll weigh in on that debate after the funerals are held for the victims.
"There's no doubt that South Carolina has a rich and provocative history. And that flag is a part of the history. And for some, that flag represents that history. And for so many others, it represents a pain and oppression," he said. "I am going to make sure that I'm a part of that conversation. My voice will be clear. My position will be stated. ... I have made the commitment to waiting till after the funeral to start that debate. And I'm going to honor that commitment."
There is also a renewed discussion about gun laws that usually follows mass shootings in the U.S. President Obama said last week that the mere act of grieving is not enough and that the U.S. needs to have a conversation about gun safety and "fix this."
"And so I refuse to act as if this is the new normal, or to pretend that it's simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem," Mr. Obama said.
But Scott said that while it's important to look for ways to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, it's "hard to think of the right legislative solution" when the shooter had "that much evil in the heart."
"What I do know is that the gun laws that were broken did not stop this monster, this killer, from carrying out his acts," Scott said. "What I do know is that the gun laws that prevented him from bringing a gun into the church did not work."