With all the “we need more gun control laws” talk coming out of the Obama Administration and the gun control lobby following the Charleston, S.C., church shootings, one issue has been all but ignored by those who think they can solve gun violence by criminals by taking away the gun rights of law-abiding Americans.
The location of the church shooting was designated under South Carolina law as a “gun free zone” – just like the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Under South Carolina law:
“…civilians may not carry their legal firearms “on school premises (including day care and preschool facilities), in law enforcement offices or facilities, in court facilities, at polling places on election days, in churches or other religious sanctuaries, or in hospitals or medical facilities. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31- 215.)”
So even though South Carolina is one of several states around the country that issue concealed carry licenses on a “shall issue” basis, legal gun owners are not permitted to carry their firearms into places of worship.
That didn’t stop Alleged Gunman Dylann Roof, 21, a man described by investigators as a “white supremacist” who wanted to “start a race war”, from entering the historically black church and killing nine people before leaving the scene and driving 245 miles away where he was arrested by North Carolina state police.
It is also unlikely that the penalties for breaking the “gun free zone” law mattered at all to Roof. South Carolina state law states that the penalty for carrying a firearm in a gun free zone – like a church – is punishable by a fine of at least $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
Roof, a white male from Lexington, South Carolina, was captured in Shelby, North Carolina. Early reports say that Roof’s father gave him the .45 caliber pistol used in the crime as a gift for his 21st birthday in April – the same day Roof became eligible to apply for a concealed carry permit under state law.