Saturday, June 20, 2015
"I Have To Do It"
Dylan Storm Roof, pictured above at his bond hearing, is the only suspect in the shooting spree in historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in which 9 folks were killed. 6 women. 3 men. They were killed Wednesday night during a prayer meeting in the church. According to press reports Roof joined the meeting. As it wound down he opened fire.
Roof seems to fit the usual profile for this kind of perpetrator. Young. A socially inept loner. Unemployed or underemployed. A close relationship with the Internet. And, oh yeah. White.
If the atmosphere at Emanuel AME is anything like the other African-American churches I have had the privilege to attend, I'm certain that Roof was welcomed warmly by the folks there at the meeting. Black churches are like that. Which makes the crime even more reprehensible if that's possible. He intended to kill the pastor he asked to sit by.
The initial reaction from some of our conservative Presidential candidates was that the crime was not about race but was yet another example of the continuing assault against religious people allegedly going on in this great land of ours. Rick Perry even went so far as to initially describe it as "an accident."I suppose that catching a slug from a stranger that you have welcomed into your prayer group could be broadly construed as an assault on your religious freedoms to be sure.
But they dropped that explanation once it got out that one of the survivors quoted Roof as saying prior to the shooting, " You're raping our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go."
I'm willing to bet that the "you" to which Roof was referring was not the African Methodist Episcopal church. A doctrinal dispute this was not. This act was motivated by racial animus in the heart of a disturbed young white man revved up by white supremacist web sites and delusions of grandeur. Who unfortunately had access to a firearm. And it was no accident.
I know many responsible gun owners and hunters. They are safety conscious and obey the game laws. I know, off the top of my head, 3 or 4 people with concealed carry permits. They are equally cautious. 2 of the folks I am thinking of have law enforcement backgrounds. I don't give any of them a second thought. I may even join them during next duck season. Only, I will be shooting a Nikon.
And I know many folks that are socially conservative on issues of race and sexuality. It would never cross the mind of any of these folks I am thinking about to go shoot up a black church, a Mosque or a gay bar.
But there are people out there who hate fellow humans for no other reason than they exist. Consider the words "You're taking over our country." They are fairly dripping with zero-sum paranoia. The pregnant aspect of this sentence is "It is because of you that I am a pathetic loser. And I am here to settle the score."
By lighting up a gathering of mostly ladies peaceably attending a meeting in a place they thought was a sanctuary.
You cannot tell me that the 2nd Amendment guarantees that unstable people, and they are mostly men, have a right to own a firearm. You can't practice medicine or law without a license. Everybody has to buy car insurance. You can't have a parade without a permit. There are regulations that govern damn near everything.
What makes guns sacrosanct? Not the 2nd Amendment according to the United States Supreme Court which has ruled that the government can pass regs to keep firearms out the hands of, well, the insane. We have a gun problem in this country. We have a hate problem in this country.
Will the 72 people running for President acknowledge this? Nope. And I disagree with President Obama. Mass killings here in America is "the new normal."
At Roof's bond hearing, some of the relatives of the victims were allowed to speak to him via closed circuit TV. They told him that they forgave him. You can find the video. You should watch it. But make sure there's a tissue handy.
I'm not that good a Christian. I don't think I could. In any event, Dylan Roof does not merit nor deserve the forgiveness of these poor folks.
And he damn sure didn't deserve the right to carry a gun.