For so many reasons, this case is so very heart-breaking and difficult to think about because it was so senseless, so callous, so racist. The act itself reveals the worst of mankind, but it also displayed God’s power to allow some of the family members to forgive Roof.
There are really no words to express the horror of this crime, and on some level most people can see that such hatred can be displayed anywhere and at anytime, but in church?
For ten years, we’ve been tracking violence perpetrated against the Church in the United States and Canada, and while not all our members agree, our stance is if someone, or a team of someones, is willing to receive firearms training and carry a firearm for protecting the body, it is a very good thing.
We believe it is better to stop an evil act where innocent people are about to die, then to allow the evil act to proceed unchecked.
It was during the sentencing phase that Simmons’s son, Dan Simmons Jr. revealed his father, Pastor Simmons carried a pistol everywhere for protection, but on this particular night, he left the weapon in his car. It was apparently found on the front seat of his vehicle. It makes me wonder if he was in a hurry and just forgot to bring it in that night.
He was quoted as saying, “My father was a protector. He knew how to use a weapon. He took a weapon with him every Sunday. I didn’t know why he didn’t have it with him.”
We will never know whether Pastor Simmons having the weapon inside the sanctuary would have made a difference. I like to think it would have. We don’t know the order in which Roof mercilessly killed the victims, or whether Simmons was the first one shot.
At this point, it doesn’t help to speculate, and I’m sure the family members have played this thought over in their minds as they grieve for what they have lost.
I do wonder though.
It makes me more vigilant not only when I am in church, but also when I am anywhere in public. So many incidents have happened this past year where an armed person with tactical skills could have made the difference.
In my opinion, returning fire to stop the blood shed of innocent people is an act of ministry. It is stopping evil from being visited upon the innocent. This is not a radical stance, it is common sense.
Maybe not everyone could have been saved that night, we will never know. However, we do know the cowards like Roof who do these things, those who are challenged by an armed individual, usually stop the killing and end it by killing themselves. If they don’t end it, we can.
I will use this revelation as a challenge to check myself before walking out the door each day, and commit to never leaving my home unarmed because if something happens and I survive, I might not be abe to forgive myself.