US church deaths unlikely to push forward gun curbs

Patricia Bailey says a prayer at a memorial to the dead outside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Picture: Getty
Patricia Bailey says a prayer at a memorial to the dead outside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Picture: Getty
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LAST week’s slaughter of nine people in a South Carolina church left prospects that the US Congress will curb guns where they’ve been for years – remote for now, according to legislators and activists on both sides of the issue.

Conceding that congressional action was unlikely soon, President Barack Obama said that lawmakers will tighten federal firearms restrictions when they believe that the public is demanding it.

“I am not resigned,” Obama told the US Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday. “I have faith we will eventually do the right thing.”

Others said there was little evidence that Wednesday’s killing of nine black parishioners by the white alleged gunman, Dylann Storm Roof would make congressional 
action more likely, considering recent history.

“I’m sceptical it’s going to change peoples’ minds who weren’t converted by Newtown,” said Senator Chris Murphy. Murphy was part of the Senate’s failed efforts to strengthen background checks following the 2012 massacre of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. If anything, the odds of congressional action seem slimmer, with both the House and Senate dominated by Republicans traditionally unsympathetic to curbs on firearms.

Roof, 21, faces nine counts of murder.