With multiple mass shootings over the past few weeks, the topic of preventing gun violence is in the forefront of discussion among many local and national leaders. Gun Sense SC held a meeting at Emanuel AME to discuss putting an end to gun violence. Gun Sense SC is a grassroots group developed after the murder of nine people at Emanuel AME. They call for a reduction in gun violence by closing legal loopholes like the one that allowed a gun into the hands of confessed shooter Dylann Roof on June 17th. Monday, a group gathered in that same Bible study room as local leaders discussed how they think gun violence should be addressed.
Nine white roses lay on nine empty chairs in the Bible study room of Emanuel AME, and nine white doves set free on the front steps of the church.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says, “Let us not let this loss be our city’s legacy. Rather, what we do in response to what happened on that horrible day.”
They stressed the need to reach across the aisle and come to a consensus about how to create stricter background checks and close some current loopholes that can allow guns into the hands of violent criminals.
Emanuel AME Reverend Norvel Goff says, “Guns kill. But for us to overcome gun violence in America, we must come together with a common goal and a common agenda. So once again, let us stand together because we are a team facing an evil force.”
Charleston Mayor-Elect John Tecklenburg says, “This must not be a conversation about partisan politics. It does need to be about finding the common ground that can lead to sensible policies and practices that will make South Carolina safer.”
Local leaders stressed they are not trying to tread on the Second Amendment.
Mayor Riley says, “Let’s be clear. We do not want to infringe on law abiding citizen’s rights to own a gun. But we must prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.”
AME Presiding Elder Reverend Joseph Darby says, “The pastor and eight members were slaughtered by a racist terrorist with pending criminal charges who was still able to buy a gun, not to be a part of the well regulated militia called for by the Second Amendment to our nation’s Constitution, but to callously slaughter God’s children because of his fear and insecurity.”
At the event, Gun Sense SC also announced plans for “Stand-Up Sunday” on January 31, 2016. It is a statewide event made up of 1,100 congregations. Participating groups will discuss the gun violence issue during worship and encourage their members to reach out to legislators, urging a change to gun laws. They are asking all faiths to get involved, and “Stand-Up Sabbath” will be held the same weekend for congregations that meet on Friday or Saturday.