How could Charleston, South Carolina, defuse racial tensions so quickly after a deranged white gunman killed nine African-American worshipers in an historic black church? Peaceful Charleston represents a stark contrast to the looting and violence that erupted when mostly white cops clashed with young black men in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, and other U.S. cities. What makes Charleston different?
Although I’m not a particularly religious person, I think the Charleston difference is faith and the belief that good will eventually triumph over evil. Some on the far left will scoff at the idea that faith can make such a major difference in how cities handle racial strife, but I believe that Charleston proves my point.
“After 400 years in America we are not African Americans, we are not black Americans, we are Americans across the board,” said Edward Johnson, pastor of New Vision Cathedral in Lincolnville, S.C. I admire him for being one of the people who’s trying to bring us together as Americans as opposed to those (think Al Sharpton) who always emphasize race in order to drive us apart. I agree with the late, great Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said people should be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
Following the horrible shooting spree at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, friends and relatives of the nine victims didn’t take to the streets to loot and burn minority owned businesses in their own neighborhoods. Instead, they prayed for the racist shooter and his innocent victims. “A lot of people expected us to do something strange, and to break out into a riot,” said the Rev. Norvel Goff, who was speaking for the church’s beloved pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the mass murderer’s victims. “Well, they just don’t know us,” Goff continued. “We are people of faith.” Amen!
As he usually does in these cases, President Obama expressed sympathy for the victims and their families, and called for new gun control measures. Of course his comment immediately polarized the nasty discussion between gun control enthusiasts and members of the politically powerful National Rifle Association (NRA). In my opinion, more gun control measures won’t keep guns out of the hands of crazy people. I believe that law enforcement agencies should strictly enforce measures already on the books and Congress should close gun show loopholes and ban assault weapons.
If more effective gun control is part of the solution to these bloody mass shootings, better mental health screenings must also be mandated. When psychotic loners start “tweeting” about killing those who disagree with their racist and/or violent ideas, law enforcement should move in to protect us from these potential murderers.
And if the father of the Charleston shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, provided his son with the 45-caliber pistol he used to kill those nine church parishioners, the father should be prosecuted as an accomplice to murder. Which, by the way, is what should have happened to the person or persons who supplied the assault rifle that 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion used to kill four people and wound seven others before he shot himself at the Carson City IHOP restaurant in September, 2011. Someone should have gone to jail as an accomplice in that one.
Both Roof and Sencion had been diagnosed with mental health issues before they opened fire, but no one alerted law enforcement or competent mental health professionals. You know the rule: If you see something, say something. Simple. Just do it!
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, isn’t a Gun Guy.