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GOP Candidates In SC Ignore Gun Control Issues

The pastor meant to devote Bible study to the gravity of marriage, but the group once again was talking about guns. “A man shot his girlfriend and then killed himself,” one congregant said from the second row of the historic Black church in Charleston, S.C., referencing a clip he’d just seen on the news. The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, senior pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — known as Mother Emanuel — had prayed for the words to counsel his members through ceaseless violence. They were all aware, intimately so, that the worst can happen and nothing much changes. This meeting used to convene in the basement before a white supremacist showed up in 2015 and opened fire, killing nine people. Now Republican presidential candidates and their backers crisscrossing South Carolina ahead of the state’s Feb. 24 primary seemed to be exhibiting what the 56-year-old pastor called a “lapse in memory.,” the Washington Post reports.

Since the start of January, the United States has counted six mass killings, its rate of firearm-wrought bloodshed outpacing every other wealthy nation by far. The candidates vying for the GOP nomination, if they address the carnage at all, make no mention of safeguarding access to the weapons used in attack after attack. Donald Trump and Nikki Haley’s comments on the campaign trail have troubled Manning and others close to Mother Emanuel, many of whom have lobbied for stronger background checks, a policy shift most Americans support, only to meet resistance from conservative leaders. The familiar disappointment crept back when, just as the Republican contenders were descending on Iowa for its caucuses, a teenager not far from Des Moines staged 2024's first school rampage. Meet-and-greets resumed before the dead were buried. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, had offered the most detailed policy proposal: funding more mental health care — though, she said, the states would have to pay for it. The pastor doubted that approach on its own would make a dent in the daily death toll.


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