Hundreds gathered at Mother Emanuel AME in downtown Charleston Friday for a day-long forum aimed at seeking solutions to reduce gun violence.
The event, hosted by the College of Charleston, ended with a remembrance service inside the sanctuary.
On December 17 it will mark the six-month anniversary since a man walked through the downstairs doors at the church and tragically killed nine parishioners during bible study.
Hundreds of people in the community flowed through the front doors Friday to seek solutions discussed in the “Moving from Crisis to Action: A Public Health Approach to Reducing Gun Violence” event.
"Charleston has taken this tragedy and now has an opportunity to turn it into community change, into a culture change," said Dr. Wanda Filer, MD, and President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Wanda Filer says 33,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence.
She says given the events this year, including most recent the massacre in San Bernardino, California, the time to talk about this issue is more important than ever.
"Things need to change in this country, we can do better,” Dr. Filer said. “Gun violence is not normal, we don't have to be helpless. There are things that can be done, and Charleston can lead the way."
"[We have to] try to advance the dialogue,” said Dr. Wayne Riley, MD, and President of the American College of Physicians. “There are very common sense things that we can do as the American people and Congress, which do not infringe upon the second amendment to decrease firearm violence in our nation."
Dr. Riley went on to add those changes need to happen across all fields of study. Dr. Filer agreed.
"You need all hands on deck,” she said. “So you need not only the medical community with health perspective, you need the law, you need the law enforcement perspective, the attorneys, the legal perspective, but also the faith community and the advocacy community."
"I think it's important to address the issue early,” said Freshman Ashantai Waugh at the College of Charleston. “I think that's one of the biggest problems, addressing the problems early and making sure that guns don't get into the [wrong] hands."
Other speakers included U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, William Nettles, Reverend Dr. Brenda Nelson of Mother Emanuel AME, Chief Deputy Solicitor Scarlett Wilson of the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in South Carolina, and Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.
Many of the attendees said talking about this topic is one step to finding a solution.
They said the discussion has to be continuous in order to make a difference.