I was planning to write about something else today. But I can’t. I hardly know where to begin. I spent most of yesterday trying to carry out my life while watching the news, sharing Facebook posts, Tweeting and making phone calls about the heinous shooting at the Charleston AME church. We are all saddened to sickness. We are again, in America, in shock over yet another mass shooting. And we are numb. But we should not stay numb. Lives are lost every day. This time it was 9 innocent black Americans praying in their church. This time it appears to be a hate crime carried out by a young man who, according to some reports and photos on Facebook, has sympathies to the White Supremacist movement.
It’s unimaginable. It’s about race. It’s about guns. It’s about hate. It’s about intolerance. It’s about domestic terrorism. Racial injustice is among us and it’s evil and hateful.
There is so much to say. There is nothing to say.
The conversation about race in America is too important to ignore. The conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in America is too important to ignore. One of the commenters on a news show this morning said that if you can’t be black while attending church, where can you be black? Good question.
It is an evil act. It’s the act of a “lone wolf” or is it? It was perpetrated by someone who should not have had a gun. His roommate said he had been planning this for a while. Why didn’t the roommate say or do something in time to stop him? Do we just shrug our shoulders when people talk like this and we know they have guns? What is wrong with us? From the above article:
Meek said Roof recently used his birthday money to buy a Glock pistol. When the two of them were drinking together a few weeks ago, Roof began railing about black people and remarked that he had “a plan,” Meek said. He did not say what the plan was, but Meek said it scared him enough that he took the gun out of Roof’s car and hid it in his house until the next day.
What is wrong with our country when young people express those kind of sentiments?
What is wrong with our leaders? President Obama held a press conference today and commented with resignation. He knows we need to do something but he knows we won’t. He knows our leaders have no spine. He knows our leaders run the other way when the issue of doing something about gun violence comes up. He understands and he doesn’t.
The world thinks we are crazed and a dangerous place to live. We can’t go to church to pray without a gunman shooting innocent people. We can’t go to movie theaters without a gunman shooting innocent movie goers. We can’t send our kids to school in the morning knowing they will come home alive in the afternoon. We can’t send our kids to college without fear of a mentally ill student with a gun shooting up the campus and maybe, just maybe, our child will be one of the victims. We can’t even work on an American military base without fear of a gunman shooting up people who have given their lives to protecting us from harm. We can’t go to a spa without a domestic abuser who gets his gun on line with no background check shooting up his ex wife and many innocent others. We can’t go to a Sikh Temple without a gunman who doesn’t like people who are not like him shooting them in his hatred. We can’t go to shopping malls without a deranged gunman shooting people for no apparent reason. We can’t work in a police station without an anti government nut case shooting up the station hoping to kill those he hates. We can’t sit in a restaurant without fear of someone shooting us up or accidentally dropping his gun ending in the body of a patron just out to eat. We can’t be at home without fear of young children getting their hands on a gun and shooting themselves or a sibling. We can’t walk down the street in some neighborhoods without fear of being shot by a stray bullet. For that matter, we can’t even sleep at home without fear of a stray bullet making a hole in the house walls and shooting a sleeping child. We can’t be in a city hall without a gunman who got a gun through a straw purchase shooting at police officers in the building. We can’t be at gun ranges either or gun shops without fear of people getting shot “accidentally.”
Why? Why? Why did this shooter have a gun? He got it as a gift from his father. Was that a good idea given that he may have had some problems? He had been arrested twice in recent months. Why did he have a gun? He had been expressing white supremacist and racist sentiments.
I say it’s crazy. I say it’s time for our leaders to stop crying and whining and saying they are sorry. If they are so sorry why aren’t they doing something about it? For they can if they want to. Why don’t they want to? Questions have to be asked.
We can do better. For God’s sake- in the name of these latest 9 victims and the many others who have gone before them to their early deaths, stop the violence. We are tired of this. Enough now. Common sense needs to happen in order to save lives. Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign has some heart felt sentiments along with some concrete solutions to at least some of our senseless gun violence:
When we talk about solutions, we don’t spend enough time talking about the real things we can do to keep guns out of the hands of the people who commit these crimes. Solutions that almost everybody supports, like:
- Expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, so that felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill can’t walk into gun shows or go online and buy guns with no questions asked.
- Shutting down the 5 percent of “bad apple” gun dealers that knowingly do business with gun traffickers and straw purchasers and supply almost all crime guns in our nation.
- Educating parents about the risks of unsafe access to guns in the home, knowing that nine kids are shot unintentionally in America every day and in more than two-thirds of school shootings, the gun comes from the home of the attacker or a relative — including the shooting at Sandy Hook.
We need to educate America that guns are dangerous weapons. Not everyone should have a gun. Indeed, there are plenty in our country who shouldn’t for various reasons. But they have them anyway.
It’s not just about laws. It’s about a culture of guns that is unique to America. It’s about thinking differently about guns.
We need to stop being insensitive to the real problem of gun violence in our country. When the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper ran the story about the shooting in the morning paper, they also included a sticker above the headline advertising a gun sale. Really? Cognitive dissonance. The two worlds of guns and gun violence in America. This is the problem with our gun culture. There’s a world of guns out there that doesn’t include the idea that people can get killed by them apparently. Here’s an image of the newspaper.
So let’s get this straight. When the corporate gun lobby stops all reasonable measures to stop some of the shootings, we have daily carnage on our streets, in our churches, in our homes and everywhere else. And when our leaders subscribe to the idea that they can’t stand up for the victims, the carnage continues unabated. And when we don’t make it difficult for people to get guns or use those guns once they get them, we see regular mass shootings and shootings every day that take the lives of 80 Americans.
“We do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” Obama said at the White House. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it.”
Let’s do something.
We grieve with the families and the Charleston community.
In memory of the victims. Let us pause to remember the lives lost. Let us remember the people whose families and friends are grieving and will miss them forever:
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Daniel Simmons
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
This article just published by the New York Times is showing evidence that, indeed, this was a hate crime and one of racism. It’s time for those who are in denial, like one of my commenters here, to admit what this is really all about. From the article:
“I have no choice,’’ it reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
In one picture, Mr. Roof is shown posing with wax figures of slaves. In others, he posed with a handgun. He is alone in all the photos, which appear to have been taken at a slave plantation, Sullivan Island, S.C., and at the Museum and Library of Confederate History.
The website links to several pages of long racist rants. Some describe Hispanics as enemies and say that “Negroes” have lower I.Q.s and low-impulse control. The writings are not signed.