As Soon As We Shoot All the Troublemakers
Some politicians were quick to seize the moment with bold speeches in the aftermath of nine people being gunned down in a church because the shooter didn’t like the color of their skin.
On June 17th, two days before Juneteenth Day, emancipation day for African Americans slaves in the Confederate South, the President walked to a White House podium to hold his 14th press conference on mass shootings in this country. Of course, not all of them were racially motivated. A Congresswoman was shot and six others killed while meeting with constituents in a grocery store parking lot. And who can forget when 20 school children and six teachers were killed in a hail of bullets at their elementary school just days before Christmas?
But the Mayor and Police Chief in Charleston, South Carolina, where the latest shooting occurred, immediately called it a hate crime based on eye witness reports and the gunman’s own words.
Republican Presidential candidates were quick to weigh in on social media expressing brief, generic sorrow, but when reporters put microphones in their faces, curious words came out:
Texas Governor Rick Perry called the shootings an “accident”. When the Twittersphere blew up over that comment, a spokesperson said he actually meant to say “incident”.
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who knew the minister killed along with his church members while his wife and child hid under a desk in his office, said he didn’t believe the murders were racially motivated. "I just think he was one of these whacked-out kids,” Graham said. “I don't think it's anything broader than that. . .” Move along, people. Nothing to see here.
Jeb Bush said “I don’t know” when asked if the shooting was racially motivated.
Rick Santorum called it an “assault on religious liberty”.
Rand Paul said it was a result of “people not understanding where salvation comes from.”
Mike Huckabee said more guns in the church might have stopped the shooting, “a weapon equal to or better than the one he was using.” Welcome to the O.K. Corral.
Marco Rubio gave a major speech the day after the shootings and chose to ignore the subject completely, simply holding up his strong support for Second Amendment rights.
And when the President of the United States said the obvious….that we at some point have to address gun violence in our country, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called his comment “shameful”. The Fox News echo chamber responded, “Despicable.”
Anything to remain in step with the powerful gun lobby that has become such a political force to be reckoned with.
The most heinous comment of all following the church shooting came from an NRA board member, who blamed the murdered Reverend for the death of his congregants because he advocated for gun safety laws as a South Carolina legislator. In 2013, Reverend Pinckney introduced a bill requiring stricter background checks for gun purchases, specifically criminal background checks and psychological evaluation. His bill died in committee while a bill to allow weapons in more public places sailed through. So in South Carolina, you can carry your weapon in a car with children, on the State House grounds and in other public places. And an NRA board member is actually saying the Reverend’s support of background checks caused this young man to gun down nine African Americans in a church.
Peace can’t be achieved by arming every citizen. This is only leading us toward a more violent society.
While Southern Red States are tripping over each other to allow guns in more and more public places – churches, bars, schools, courthouses and other public buildings – the objections of Police Departments and other law enforcement organizations fall on deaf ears.
If you want peace, you’ll have to work for it.
Write a letter to a legislator and let them know not everyone wants crazy people strolling through the mall with a gun strapped into a holster.
Refuse to support candidates who are controlled by the NRA.
Make a contribution to a candidate who the NRA opposes.
Get involved with an organization like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence or former New York Governor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. In light of the open warfare on our streets, these organizations and others have stepped up their advocacy for gun safety.
Reach out across racial lines to help stem the growing tide of violence that threatens to spark an all-out race war. Come together.
Read a book about Nelson Mandela, Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. Their stories will prepare you for the long game, and give a clear picture of how racial tension breeds violence.
Peace won’t come if those who want it remain silent.
If you want peace, you’re going to have to be willing to raise a little hell for it.
Just don’t get yourself shot in the process.