Will The Charleston Shooting Lead To Gun Reform? It's Not Looking Good
In what authorities called a hate crime against a Charleston, South Carolina black church, nine people were shot dead and a national debate on gun control and reform was once again renewed. But will the Charleston shooting actually lead to gun reform? There are plenty of calls for stricter gun laws, but if recent history is any indicator, those calls will be left unanswered.
Just take a look at President Obama, who, not once, but twice publicly said he didn't expect any real change to happen. Did the president of the United States give up hope? No, but he certainly was aware of the very real ties Capitol Hill has with certain staples of the gun industry. In the day after the vicious shooting, a somber Obama told Americans the politics in this country would prevent lawmakers from passing real legislation to enact stricter gun regulations.
At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. ... I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.
A few days later, during a podcast interview with Marc Maron, Obama reiterated his view.
I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress, and I don’t foresee any real action being taken until the American public feels a sufficient sense of urgency and they say to themselves, “This is not normal. This is something that we can change and we’re going to change.”
So what would it take for folks to wise up and recognize that there needs to be a better system to keep guns out of the hands of people who wish to do harm? Twenty dead 6-year-olds at an elementary school wasn't enough. The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, which also left six adult staffers killed, was one of the most horrific shootings in American history, and legislators from all over cried foul and demanded universal background checks and the banning of certain semi-automatic firearms. Both proposals failed to pass in Congress. It was an inaction that even made Obama feel "disgusted."
Across the country, U.S. mayors chimed in echoing Obama's sentiment about Charleston and gun reform. And of course that was quickly followed by opposition voices rallying behind right-wing pundits. Their argument, "If the pastor had a gun, this wouldn't have happened!" is also a familiar battle call in these debates. To them, I ask, "How about keeping the first gun out of the suspect's hands to begin with?"
Even at the state level, gun regulation doesn't appear to be high on the agenda for South Carolina leaders. Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, and Attorney General Alan Wilson were seen sitting during a standing ovation after a call for gun control in a photo tweeted out by reporter Andy Shain. It's clear there are enough higher-ups in power who are willing to file away yet another mass shooting as they shelve yet another gun control debate.
Sandy Hook wasn't enough. Emanuel AME won't be enough either. So what will it take? That's a question we should pose to ourselves because like Obama said, the urgency for change lies in us.
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