Two days ago tragedy struck South Carolina, and the United States as a whole, when a 21 year old white man opened fire at a historic black church killing 9 innocent, God fearing people who were attending a bible study class. I can’t believe that it has been over 60 years since the Civil Rights movement in this country yet we are still experiencing the bitterest of racism and hate. It is almost as shocking as the resurgence of antisemitism that has resurfaced all over Europe and America a mere 70 years after one of the most horrific genocides this world has ever seen. Learning from the past is seemingly just a concept that is not practiced, and “we will never forget” has lost much of its meaning.
I had to hold back tears as I watched the national news yesterday, and my heart broke as the reporters interviewed surviving family members of the beautiful victims whose lives were cut tragically short. Yet, despite this tragedy, an even bigger misfortune is creeping up all over the country, and that is the insistence on blaming yet another mass shooting on the wrong problem. Liberals all over the country, and even some conservatives, have made this tragedy a poster for the debate on gun control, which, in my opinion, detracts from the actual underlying problem we are facing as a nation; racism, hate, and bigotry.
Despite what the media might portray, and despite the rhetoric of liberalism today in regards to the gun control debate, this tragedy had absolutely nothing to do with gun control. If this monster didn’t have access to a gun, he would have undoubtedly found another way. It might have taken him longer to carry out his sick plan, but there is no doubt in my mind that he would have accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by any means possible. The gun control debate has to do with a perceived ease that it takes to get weapons legally, yet if you take a majority of the mass shootings that occurred in this country, they were done with illegally obtained weapons, so the tightening of restrictions wouldn’t have made the slightest difference.
It comes down to an inability and an unwillingness to understand and acknowledge the true root of the problem at hand. A majority of people don’t go and buy guns for the purpose of killing people, and the ones who do, or who obtain them illegally for this purpose, would find other means to carry out their sadistic goals if guns were less available. We, as a country, need to stop blaming the tools used to carry out these heinous crimes, and start focusing on how we, as a society, can change the way people think.
Now, I am not saying there shouldn’t be certain restrictions in regards to legally obtaining a firearm. I feel there should be appropriate background checks on each person applying for a weapon, including information on mental status. However, this great country gave us the second amendment right to bear arms, and taking that away would be just as detrimental as taking away our right to free speech. Let’s not forget that rhetoric can be just as dangerous as holding a weapon. Hitler didn’t hold his Nazi’s at gunpoint and force them to kill over 11 million people. He used words to poison millions of people who, in turn, used the tools at their disposal to bring about one of the most horrendous genocides the world has ever seen. They didn’t kill because they had guns, they killed because they were brainwashed into thinking it was the right and necessary things to do. They killed because of hate… Just like Dylann Roof. Words can be just as dangerous as guns, even more so, and we need to acknowledge that a majority of the problems we face in this country come from a plethora of circumstances that have nothing to do with our right to bear arms. Untreated/unrecognized mental illness, fundamentalism, a lack of education, and a hate filled home environments, are a few things that come to mind.
Education and Upbringing
I don’t know Dylann Roof, and I have no idea what could have happened to him in his short 21 years of life to cause him to do what he did in South Carolina, but I would love to have a good few minutes with his parents to find out. He dropped out of school during his first year in high school, he was never urged to go back, his father provided him with the murder weapon, and I have a sneaking suspicion that his love for apartheid and abhorrence of African Americans began at home. No one is born with that kind of hate. Circumstance and/or upbringing fosters this kind of madness, and to divert the blame from the person (or people) to the instrument is to deny the true problem.
I hope we start to learn… I hope my generation learns that we need to take time with our children to teach them tolerance, understanding, and responsibility. I hope my generation learns to teach their children to cherish the differences in people instead of to fear and misunderstand them. Many of the youth of today are apparently not receiving these lessons, and I hope that changes…
I am everyday hopeful that one day we won’t turn on the news to these stories, but I know we have a long way to go. Here’s hoping that we all get started sooner than later in the hopes of eradicating the problems that are leading to death and destruction in this country.
I miss you ever second of everyday friend, and I love you forever and always.
Until we meet again <3,