A gunman fatally shot nine people during a bible study service Wednesday night at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Police say that the shooter, described as a white man in his early twenties with “sandy blond hair” is still on the loose.
Authorities are labelling the mass shooting a hate crime, because it appears to be a white on black killing but also because upon doing so local and state police are given more federal resources and assistance to investigate the incident.
“To have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable, obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters. “The only reason someone could walk into a church to shoot people praying is out of hate.”
Unfortunately, America is not unfamiliar with sociopaths taking the lives of innocent people. Each time an event like this occurs, several discussion points are raised and debated by the media, politicians and advocates on both sides of the gun divide.
In the coming days and weeks, look for these topics to emerge:
As mentioned, authorities are calling this a “hate crime,” meaning it was a crime motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward an individual’s national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
Also as mentioned, it appears it was a young white man who brutally murdered nine church goers, many of whom were African-American. Details on the victims are still forthcoming.
Yet, was the individual really motivated by hate, prejudice or intolerance? It’s unclear. Which brings up the next point.
Mental HealthTo what extent was the gunman suffering with mental health issues? Hate could certainly be a motivating factor, but mental health could also be a catalyst. After all, to kill nine people in cold blood one is undoubtedly a sociopath or a serious mental defective.
Look for the issue of mental health to crop up during the conversation. And once the identity of the shooter is confirmed, no one will be surprised if it turns out he was on psychotropic drugs for a mental ailment.
Was the church a gun-free zone? Were members allowed to bring guns to church for self-defense? Gun rights advocates are certainly going to ask these questions. One of the mantra’s of the pro-gun cause is that, as Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America says, “gun-free zones are murder magnates.”
In other words, gun-free zones create soft targets. In the vast majority of cases, mass shooters end up perpetrating their violent acts in places that prohibit firearms. Coincidence? Probably not. Logically, criminals would prefer to avoid armed resistance.
By the end of today, we’ll probably have an idea of whether the church was a gun-free zone. Safe bet is that it probably was.
Lax Gun Laws
As gun-rights activists rally around the gun-free zone narrative, gun-control advocates will focus on how the individual obtain the firearm and indubitably argue — regardless of the facts — that stricter gun laws may have prevented this tragedy.
It’s a flawed argument because a determined criminal is going to find a gun one way or the other. Moreover, most mass shooters plan their attack for weeks and months giving them plenty of time to circumvent the laws and obtain whatever implements they need to carry out their assault.
Nevertheless, gun control advocates will not let this tragedy go to waste and will continue to beat the drum for restricting the Second Amendment.
Along with pointing to gun laws, gun-control advocates will also blame the gun. See, instead of placing the blame on the shooter — where it belongs — gun control advocates like to shift blame to gun laws and guns.
As it relates to the firearm, by demonizing the gun, by shifting the blame from the finger that pulled the trigger to the trigger itself they hope to gain more ground on their mission to ban firearms. According to them, certain guns and gun-related accessories (like magazines with 10 or more rounds) are evil and are not fit for public ownership.
But as many know, guns do not have a soul. However, look for gun-control advocates to pounce on whatever firearm was used in the shooting, particularly if it was a black rifle.