President Barack Obama reacted to Wednesday’s horrific massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina by calling for gun control and criticizing the United States for the frequency of mass shooting events. “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,” Obama said, adding: “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Obama is wrong on both counts. Innocent people were killed because a murderer–likely motivated by racial hatred–had a gun–but guns in the right hands have stopped, or interrupted similar attacks before. In South Africa, for example–whose racist past seems to have provided gruesome inspiration for the Charleston killer–a parishoner stopped a mass shooting by a black nationalist group against a multi-racial congregation by firing his .38 revolver at the assailants, who ran away.
The parishoner, Charl van Wyk, later wrote a book about his experience, called Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.
Later, the killers were granted amnesty by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But van Wyk, who works as a full-time missionary, remains a passionate advocate of the right to bear arms–from a Christian perspective.
As for whether the U.S. is worse than other advanced countries, it has been less than six months since the mass shootings in Paris at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and at a kosher supermarket (which the president described as “random”).
Mass shootings may be more frequent in the U.S., but terror attacks of the sort that apparently took place in Charleston are rare, and are not unique to the U.S. They are more easily prevented by an armed and prepared citizenry.
Update: Kerry Picket notes at the Daily Caller that the Charleston church was likely a designated gun-free zone.