Again the world is witness to the aftermath of another horrible, “senseless shooting” in the United States, this time in Charleston, S.C., where nine people were gunned down Wednesday night at a church prayer meeting.
A shooting at such a place and under such conditions could never be anything but senseless. It was at the historic black Emanuel AME Church near downtown Charleston, known as “Mother Emanuel,” the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore.
Among the dead was the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
Adding to the horror are reports that the lone gunman, who apparently participated in the prayer meeting with his victims for almost an hour before killing them, said he was there to kill black people.
Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white man, was arrested Thursday after a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C. A man similar in appearance to Roof was captured on surveillance video entering the church at about the time of the prayer meeting.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is a hate crime,” said Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen.
The city’s mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr., described it as “pure, pure concentrated evil.”
President Barack Obama, speaking Thursday at the White House, said the U.S. has to find a remedy to rampant gun violence.
“At some point,” he said, “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Riley added a point that frequently follows “senseless” shootings: “I personally believe there are far too many guns out there. And access to guns is far too easy.”
We all know that an appeal for gun restrictions won’t bear fruit. If it didn’t happen in 2012 after a gunman massacred 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., or after any of the other mass shootings in recent history, why would still more horror make it more likely to happen now?
But if children in an elementary school are not safe, if people at a prayer meeting at their church are targets, where is the safe place? “At some point,” as Obama said, we have to figure this out.