As I walked towards the Mother Emmanuel Church I found myself counting every step I took, part of me didn’t want to arrive. On June 19th I took a morning bus to Charleston, South Carolina, two days after a self-described white supremacist walked into the historic black church of AME Mother Emmanuel and, after sitting in for an hour of bible study, murdered nine black churchgoers. Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend and Doctor Daniel L Simmons Sr., Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, and Susie Jackson were gunned down on the evening of June 17, 2015. The shooter was able to reload five times during the attack, prompting gun rights activists and some black faith communities to argue that having a firearm within the church’s premise could have prevented the attack, while President Obama spoke in the immediate aftermath, saying that “once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
I still haven’t found much of a voice or aptitude for addressing current events in a timeframe that seems relevant, so like the Trayvon Martin incident, I feel like this blog post is a bit “late to the game” and with less than I’d like to offer. This is of course made more difficult by the fact that research on gun violence has been blocked in the U.S. along multiple lines for some time.
Despite these impediments, there have been several serious attempts to gain an understanding of the role of guns and gun accessibility on mass shootings: