Charleston faith and city leaders gather to discuss reducing gun violence

Charleston faith and city leaders gather to discuss reducing gun violence
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston area faith and city leader gathered Monday at Mother Emanuel AME for another discussion on gun violence in the community and state.

This comes days away from the six-month anniversary of the nine parishioners who were shot and killed over the summer.

"For several hours after that, and for many days after that, I saw the destruction and horror, and the hurt and the pain that was caused by one person," said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

Chief Mullen said change is needed in the community to prevent these acts of violence from happening again.

The non-profit group, "Gun Sense SC" hosted the discussion Monday.

Members also released nine doves on the steps of Mother Emanuel AME, symbolically remembering the nine people killed, and creating the start to reducing gun violence.

"This is a crisis in our community, and it's a crisis in our nation," said Mayor Joe Riley.

"We need to look at this, as you've heard, from a common purpose," Chief Mullen added. "We all can get behind reducing violence in our community and making them safer."

Chief Mullen said it can possibly be done in four areas, 1) expanded background checks, 2) pursuing and prosecuting those with illegal guns, 3) creating stronger legislation for prosecuting those people, and 4) creating a public health model for the issue.

"We need to analyze, collect, and identify root causes to this crisis and develop system wide devices through medical, educational, social, and criminal justice systems to address the root causes for gun violence," Chief Mullen said.

"Let us make Charleston once again an example," Mayor Riley said. "Let's be clear, we do not want to infringe on law abiding citizen's rights to own a gun."

Mayor-elect John Tecklenburg was also in attendance. He said while this issue is controversial, it needs to be looked at as a benefit for the future, not politics.

"It does need to be about finding the common ground that can lead to sensible policies and practices that will make South Carolina safer," Tecklenburg said.

"Gun Sense SC" is a non-profit that was created following the Charleston shooting.

Its mission is to raise awareness about gun violence through education, and supporting of nonpartisan legislation.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved.