First things first: Like every human being with a living soul, I abhor the violence that took place yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina.
While one can expect the Obama Justice Department’s to politicize this episode for all it’s worth (more later), in this case the hate crime investigation seems entirely warranted; the alleged shooter, who seems at first glance to be a fairly demented young man, gives off a lot of the surface signs of being motivated by some form of racial hatred or another, rather than mere insanity.
The alleged shooter, Mr. Roof, reportedly went to great lengths to avoid alarming his targets, apparently even participating in a Bible study for an hour before opening fire.
So the situation doesn’t compare, entirely, with the one in 2007, at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs; there, the shooter, A demented person motivated by hatred of Christianity barged into the service with guns blazing, killing one before being shot by a volunteer civilian security guard Jeanne Assam.
And yet it remains unalterably true that the best way to stop a mass shooting is to shoot back. One person with a legal, concealed firearm, putting up even token resistance, is almost invariably enough to stop a mass shooting before it becomes a mass shooting. Even Columbine, horrible as it was, was likely contained from being much worse by the intervention of an armed sheriffs deputy working school security; this blog has covered other episodes of mass shootings derailed by armed citizens.
But the church in Charleston? It was a gun free zone. This, it has in common with pretty much every mass shooting location in recent history.
This past spring, I interviewed a couple of church security experts on the show. They pointed to the sheer number of attacks on churches lately – by no means all lethal, but still scary stuff if you’re paying attention (and I’ll be interviewing another tomorrow on the show). And yet all over the Twin Cities, you see churches posting themselves with cutesy signs; “Blessed are the Peacemakers; guns are not permitted” (not an endorsement of Colt single action .45’s, by the way).
How many more people of faith have to be slaughtered before the stupid-pious get the picture?