South Carolina State Representative Bill Chumley argued that South Carolina lawmakers should focus on access to guns in the aftermath of the massacre of nine people in a historic black church in Charleston. He said, “These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad. Somebody in there with a means of self-defense could’ve stopped this.” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley almost immediately asked the state prosecutor to go for the death penalty. Once again, the typical response of responding to violence with more violence is the gut reaction.
Many of us took hope in the possibility of a different response when family members of the victims came forward to offer forgiveness to Dylann Roof, the suspect. This apparent hate crime was met with forgiveness and compassion. New research in the American Journal of Public Health this month showed the licensing of all handgun purchasers in Connecticut had led to a 40% drop in gun homicides in the state. This is just on the heels of last year’s Johns Hopkins study reported by the Kansas City Star showing a 25% increase in gun homicides when Missouri repealed its requirement that handgun purchasers be licensed. Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence has launched a 24-month education campaign called, “Tale of Two States: Handgun Purchaser Licensing Saves Lives” to promote the findings of these studies. They call us to support a national resolution calling for the licensing of handgun purchasers nationwide. Let’s join this national effort as our corporate stance calls us.
Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.