The shocking attack on a church in South Carolina has started to cause a ripple in the nation’s political scene. President Obama wasted no time in turning the tragic event into a stump speech on gun restriction legislation. Not to be outdone, Democrat presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley followed the President’s lead and used the horrific event to promote his political agenda.
By now most Americans are aware of the Charleston, SC shooting that left 9 dead. The alleged shooter has been identified as Dylann Roof, and is in custody with a $1 million bail. Roof committed the heinous act with a .45 caliber handgun that was given to him, on June 17, 2015. The victims ranged in age from 26 to 87 years old and included 2 pastors.
On June 18, 2015, President Obama spoke to the nation about the event. The speech noted that a hate crime investigation has been started, as it has been reported that Roof had planned the murder and in the weeks prior told several people of his desire to start a “race war.” About mid-way in the speech President Obama then turned political – announcing that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries”, a claim that has been readily debunked. This was followed by the purely political statement,
“And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And 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.”
This half-veiled reference to further gun restriction legislation has been received by many as ill-timed and inappropriate. But it was likely this message that opened the door to former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. O’Malley is a candidate for the Democrat nomination, and is a competitor to apparent front-runner Hillary Clinton. On June 19, 2015, Gov. O’Malley said by email to his supporters,
“I’m pissed that after working hard in the state of Maryland to pass real gun control—laws that banned high-magazine weapons, increased licensing standards, and required fingerprinting for handgun purchasers—Congress continues to drop the ball.”
O’Malley went further with his thoughts and potential political action in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program with Joe Scarboro,
“O’Malley: …It’s not only about banning assault weapons, and background checks, but the vast majority of American think we should have background checks. This isn’t about hunters… but there are things we need to do in terms of common sense legislation and mental health legislation.
Joe Scarboro: I guess that’s what I want to ask you. None of the gun legislation you passed, none of the gun legislation passed in Connecticut after Newtown, would’ve stopped Newtown or stopped Charleston…
O’Malley: …We [America] suffer from a horrible epidemic of gun violence and death.”
Since the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, President Obama passed 23 Executive Orders to enhance gun restrictions. Many States followed this with their own gun restriction legislation such as the NY SAFE Act and the creation of gun-free zones. Thus far these increased restrictions, primarily focused on “assault weapons” (semi-automatic rifles) and magazine capacity, have failed to prevent mass shootings across the country. Like with the Charleston shooting, these restriction legislations fail to address many mental health issues and the majority of firearms; as well as the means by which some attain these firearms.