So much has been written about the Charleston murders over the last week I’m not sure that I can add anything of value…but here goes.  I will not print the murderer’s name here.


Charleston Shooting (5)
Crime scene tape outside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Image by Stephen B. Morton/AP


I think that if there is any one thing to take away from this incident, in terms of gun rights, it is that gun control laws FAILED in Charleston.  Even as gun controllers seize on this as an opportunity to push their “solutions,” none of the “solutions” that they have shoved down our throats since 1934 did one single thing to prevent this horror.  None of their ideas to date did a thing to stop this, and we are supposed to listen when they say they want to do more?

Just stop it already.

Background checks failed. Reports indicate that the killer went to a gun store, operated by a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, submitted to a background check by the FBI, and passed. There is still some debate as to whether or not the drug charge which had been filed against the murderer a month earlier was a felony or not, as anyone under felony indictment is prohibited from gun ownership by federal law. If he was under felony indictment, the background check itself failed to catch it. Even if the drug charge was a misdemeanor, he would have still been required to answer “no,” to the question, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance,” when completing ATF Form 4473. News reports indicate that he was in fact a user of illegal drugs, so answering “no,” to that question would have been a lie…itself a federal crime. (Had he answered “yes,” the store would have disapproved the sale immediately.)

Who could have expected that a murderer would lie?

The background check issue begets the discussion as to whether or not they should be stricter, or should include private (non-FFL conducted) transactions. Stricter checks run the risk of further infringing on the rights of citizens who have done nothing wrong, and checks on private transactions is unenforceable without registration…and those are long, involved discussions better left for another day. But there certainly is no evidence that background checks can prevent a committed murderer from acquiring a gun to carry out the act. I submit to you that anyone evil enough to plan…for six months…to commit such murders will not be deterred by any background check, however strict.

Another darling of the gun control crowd is magazine capacity restrictions. In Charleston, it was not a legal issue, as South Carolina does not restrict magazines based on capacity. Still, there is an important lesson here. The typical stated reason for magazine capacity limits is that it would somehow reduce the number of people a murderer is able to kill. (As if there is a certain number of murders which are acceptable.)  But when we point out that it is a simple matter for a killer to carry multiple magazines and reload, we are told that the pause for reloading would create an opportunity for someone (an unarmed someone) to “take them down.” Yet the Charleston murderer is reported to have paused to reload five times, and no one managed to do this. Could it be that “taking down” an armed mass murderer…even while he’s reloading…is not that easy after all? Even for a young, physically fit male, it would be an extremely high risk undertaking. The victims in Charleston were both male and female, and ranged in age from 26 to 87. The expectation that such a group could simply “take down” a murderer with a gun is clearly unrealistic. The results speak for themselves.

However…any one of those individuals could have shot him.

They could have shot him, if not for the fact that South Carolina law prohibits the carry of firearm in places of worship, unless given explicit permission to do so. Anyone, including the 87 year old woman who was killed that night, could have ended that atrocity with a gun of their own. But the Emanuel AME Church was by law a so-called “gun free zone”…until the law was broken, and then it wasn’t a gun free zone anymore. Nothing incenses me more than the foolish idea that anyone willing to murder would so much as bat an eye at a “gun free zone” sign. I’m sorry, but if you think such measures constitute an effective deterrent to violence, you are a fool.


The police will never be able to respond to your emergency faster than you can respond yourself.


It is clearly evident to the most casual observed that gun control laws intended to prevent violence FAILED in Charleston. So now the solution is to take that which failed…several times over…and do it more? Insanity. All of those violated gun laws prevented nothing, and only give us some relatively minor charges to tack onto the nine homicide charges the killer is already facing. Think he’s really sweating those gun charges? How about we embrace what works…an armed and energetic defense…and make it more available?

The utopian goal of prevention of violence is fantasy. There is no law, no combination of laws which can prevent violence 100% while still preserving a free society. Even in a society which is decidedly not free…prison…violence is still a major problem.  I’ll take my chances as a free man, thank you.


Image courtesy of Oleg Volk.
Image courtesy of Oleg Volk.


The problem is that while the vast majority of human beings are peaceful souls who would never deliberately hurt another, there are those among us who are broken. There always will be. No gun control law will ever change the fact that those in the human family who do not respect the lives of others will find a way to assault, rape, and murder. As long as there is prey there will be predators. In 2011, Michael Bane did a podcast in response to the murder of 77 people in Norway. His assessment of that incident is just as applicable to Charleston as it was to Norway…I highly recommend that you give it a listen here.

To close, I would also revisit my concept of the Four Constants of Spree Killings:

They happen in gun free zones.

The killer is mentally ill.

Someone knew.

The killer stops (either surrendering or committing suicide) when confronted with armed resistance.


— Dave Cole

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2 thoughts on “Charleston”

  1. Ken:

    You are on target. As a long time member of the A.M.E. Church, I am highly ticked off. During the eulogy President Obama went after guns and the Confederate Flag. This was pure politics. If the leaders of the A.M.E. Church invited him, I am highly disappointed.

    I have a link on my web site as it relates to the Confederacy. My attitude is check out the link and decide for yourself.

    In Freedom,

    Frank M. Reed

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