As a white, nearly lifelong resident of Charleston, I feel obligated to say in defiance of my usual self-censorship. While they may and often do dwell together, hatred and mental illness are not the same. Hatred is not a mood disorder. Hatred is inert violence. And we are all susceptible to its intrusions.
Before you tell me how I am violating your rights by proposing a record of gun owners, note that the constitution does not say that you have the right to bear arms and not tell anyone. We regulate chemicals, elevators, airplanes and financial transactions -- and none of those are specifically designed to kill anyone.
As soon as I heard about the mass killing of nine worshipers at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, my heart broke -- again. Yet another gunman, yet another place that should be safe from violence, even more families shattered. No more Charlestons. No more Newtowns, Auroras or Isla Vistas. Not one more.
The facts of this tragedy remain under investigation, and there is still a lot that we don't know. But what we do know is that every day, 88 Americans are killed in shootings. No, there is not a single magic solution that will keep every gun out of the hands of every person intent on doing harm -- but we can do a lot better.
When I woke up to news of another church shooting -- of nine people killed in the place you feel safest -- I only want to share the parts that ripped me up. The parts that are still confusing and raw. Because that's what it feels like when someone comes into your life with a gun and tries to kill you.
We can't walk the streets of our own neighborhoods. We can't be buckled in or have our rights respected when arrested, or locked up without trial, assaulted and beaten in an American prison. We can't be youth at a pool party. We can't be at church. We can't be president and really comment about these things. We can't breathe...
To that small minority who see this crime against humanity as a victory: Know that God is with the people of Mother Emanuel. God is with those working to end gun violence. Yes, God takes sides and calls those of us who follow that call to take sides with both humbleness and a fierce desire for justice.