Last night, Dylann Storm Roof allegedly walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and proceeded to shoot and kill nine people, while wounding others.
My immediate prediction last night, beyond anticipating the obvious anti-gun rhetoric that everyone must have known would follow, was that the young man would be linked to some form of behavior-altering psychotropic drug(s). Early reports appear to confirm this. I have already discussed how selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) and other pharmaceuticals are the real causal link with most mass murders (particularly those perpetrated by young people). But these links generally go uncovered by the media and unacknowledged by most politicians due to Big Pharma’s vast advertising and lobbying power. It is easy to vilify guns and gun ownership because, though relatively widespread in America, gun owners nonetheless remain a minority of the populace. Legal drug addiction and abuse, however, is a far more widespread and rationalized phenomenon in modern America and subsequently virtually no one wants to discuss or acknowledge it. Vilifying a social minority is a favored and perfected political pastime.
And of course, as if on cue, President Obama wasted no time in politicizing the tragedy to score ideological points with his hoplophobic base: “Once again, innocent people were killed because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.” Clearly, the largest police state in human history is not capable of preventing such incidents, by the president’s own unintentional admission, so why are he and his ilk so hard up to further disarm those innocents he speaks of, ultimately to leave them even more nakedly exposed to the aggressions of evil individuals?
By now it should be clear to any readers of this site that I find all but the most narrow and specific gun control measures – especially those commonly proposed that go beyond the scope and scale of regulations already on the books and demonstrably ill-enforced – to be irrational and illogical. I also tend anymore to disregard discussions of gun control that fail to include discussions of gun control on the state itself. As discussed previously, agents of the police state do not exactly become magnanimous when they put on a uniform. But that is a digression well discussed elsewhere on this site…
Also, a broader question to consider: why the creation of so-called “hate crimes?” I have always been puzzled by this type of legislation. While it seems clear enough that Roof is a bigot and his alleged actions were motivated by racial hatred, what relevance does that have with respect to the act itself? Murder is either right or it is wrong; the underlying why has no bearing on how right or wrong murder is from a legal perspective. (Motive is important for evidentiary and prosecutorial purposes, but not for determining the level of justice one should be entitled to). Has any murderer ever truly loved someone to death? I will grant that some murderers are so sociopathic or otherwise coldblooded as to exhibit little to no emotion at all as they commit their crimes, but does that make their victims any less deserving of equal justice? Is a murder victim who is killed because of the color of their skin or their sexual orientation due any more or less justice than a murder victim who is killed for $30 or for the sheer thrill of it?
Finally, it must be reiterated that the victims in this case appear to have been completely unarmed. While I have no idea if South Carolina prohibits concealed or open carrying of firearms in a place of worship, as I am not a resident, it is reasonable to presume that Roof knew the likelihood of the patrons being armed was close to zero. So-called “gun free zones,” whether due to tradition, statute, or self-imposition, tend to attract sick individuals looking to rack up a high body count.
This does not mean the victims, God rest their souls, deserved their fates of course. But there are measures that people can take to at least give themselves a fighting chance and some probability of deterrence against at least the calculating individuals. It is rare indeed that non-suicidal killers bent on mass murder target police stations, gun shows, shooting ranges, or other institutions/locales not reasonably associated as with an absence of firearms. When attacks do rarely (or perhaps mistakenly) occur at places where armed people are present, the attacker(s) is generally taken down far short of accomplishing his mass murderous goals. I am thankful that my state allows concealed carry in such locations and that proprietors in my town generally welcome such carrying by the public.