Calls for gun control increase on anniversary of Charleston church shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WNCT) – Friday marks one year since nine black churchgoers were shot and killed inside a Charleston, South Carolina church.

While many in Charleston are remembering the victims of the attack, others continue fighting for tighter gun control.

A year later, family members and friends of the nine parishioners killed in Charleston are still reeling. It’s a particularly emotional time for them, as just this week, gun violence claimed the lives of 49 others in an Orlando nightclub.

This week, many are honoring the victims of both tragedies.

Reverend Sharon Risher’s mother and two cousins were killed in the Charleston church shooting. She says the news of the Orlando shooting hit her hard.

“My heart could not take hearing about that, knowing that families were getting ready to feel the same kind of pain that all the people in Charleston and especially the nine families were feeling,” Rev. Risher said.

Risher and others are now calling for stricter gun laws following the Orlando nightclub shooting. The Senate is set to begin a series of gun-related votes as early as Monday.

Two days ago, Charleston began observances for the victims, the Mother Emanuel Nine.

Over the last year, much has changed in the area, as the community has had to rebuild in the wake of tragedy there. People honoring the lives of those lost one year ago Friday say they’re proud of the grace and forgiveness South Carolina has shown.

The church’s new pastor, Reverend Betty Deas Clark, is sharing a similar message.

“Forgiveness does not negate the other emotions such as anger or rage. It simply means that in order for us to wake up every morning, to live through the day, we do not need the burden of unforgiveness,” Rev. Clark said.

The accused gunman was captured in North Carolina. He’ll go on trial in November to face federal hate crime charges that could result in a death sentence, before facing state murder charges in January.

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