The Charleston shooting took place at one of most illustrious and indomitable Black churches in the nation. In his statement on the shooting on Thursday, an all too familiar — and highly disputed — issue was raised. Solemnly addressing the incident, President Obama's speech on the Charleston shooting highlighted gun violence and called for a change in how we think about gun control.
With Vice President Joe Biden by his side, Obama said:
I've had to make statements like this too many times ...We don't have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.
Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let's be clear: at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn't happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency ... it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.
At some point, it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it. And for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.
The president's speech touched on a contentious point in American society today. Such incidents of gun violence occur with disturbing regularity in the country, partly due to the fact that it is incredibly easy to obtain a gun in some parts of America.
From Columbine in 1999 to Sandy Hook in 2012, and everything in between, mass gun violence is something this country has unfortunately experienced far more than it should. Yet those virulently against gun control refuse to allow stricter laws that will make it more difficult for just anyone to obtain a firearm, citing their Second Amendment right.
But those in loud opposition of gun control would be nowhere if not for the National Rifle Association. One of the most powerful nonprofit organizations in the country, the NRA wields incredible clout in both state and federal politics — which could explain why so many politicians on the right are such strong anti-gun control advocates.
But, time and again, mass shooting incidents show the critical need for more stringent laws on access to guns in America. If nothing else, the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church only further highlights the consequences of a gun at the hands of an angry, mentally unstable person, whose ability to acquire firearms points to the deeply flawed system that masks itself behind the cries for "freedom."