The Charleston church shooting has become another flash point in several ongoing debates in the US.
Among them, America’s relationship with guns, our troubled racial history, and the politics of free speech.
The gunfire that ended nine lives in the sanctuary of Emanuel AME Church one week ago reignited debate over gun violence — a seeming cornerstone of American life according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime — and ushered in a wave of tone-deaf responses from some politicians and other highly influential people.
On Wednesday afternoon, the AP reported Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), a 2016 presidential contender, signed two bills loosening gun laws in his state — one eliminates a 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. The other allows off-duty, out-of-state, and retired police officers to carry guns on school campuses.
When asked to respond to the timing of those measures, Walker said the signing was already on the calendar before the Charleston shootings happened.
Just a couple of days after the killings, NRA board member, Charles L. Cotton, blamed Emanuel AME pastor and South Carolina state senator Clementa Pinckney for his own death. In an online posting, Cotton reportedly said it was Pinckney’s opposition to allowing people to carry guns in church that ultimately sealed their fates.
2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee lamented that the “heartbreak for what happened in Charleston is that it happened in a church.” Never mind that the victims were believed to have been targeted specifically because they were black, according to investigators who are treating the killings as a hate crime.
The apparent racially motivated nature of the Charleston shooting has sparked nationwide calls for the Confederate flag’s removal from all manner of government property where it’s being displayed.
Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 2016 election campaign stood by an aide who likened those calls to a‘Stalinist purge.’
For what it’s worth, the tragedy in Charleston has also created an enormous amount of civil and commercial upheaval over that old relic of the South. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on Monday declared ‘It’s time to move the flag from Capitol grounds.’ At least 6 other states have moved to reduce its presence on state property.
The Confederate flag’s potential demise has appears to be gaining steam as multiple retailers have vowed to stop selling merchandise bearing its image.