I've never understood the appeal of the Confederate flag.
Some of my family members display it on their shirts or hats during get-togethers. It bothers me a little, but not enough to rile me up.
So while I agree with those who say South Carolina should not use the flag that originates from a time when we went to war with each other over the horrendous "right" to treat people like property, this is the wrong argument to have front and center after the deadly church shooting in Charleston last week.
This is still about a gun crime that should not have happened.
Of course, there are racial implications that come with the Confederate flag. Some say it represents southern pride and heritage. Well, that is the same kind of pride that led to a Civil War because the south wanted to keep slavery.
It's also the same kind of pride that led to Jim Crow laws and segregation. Whether or not a person who displays or wears the Confederate flag genuinely believes in these things, it is still a symbol of a society where African Americans were not treated equally.
It has always been like that, and simply taking the flag away will not eliminate those deep-seeded sentiments that I believe still do exist in certain parts of the south.
However, the fact remains that Dylann Roof, a man facing felony charges, was able to acquire a gun when he should not have had that right. Roof lost that right when he was arrested on felony drugs charges.
A dumb loophole regarding private gun transactions allowed him to acquire the firearm he then used to kill nine people in, of all places, a prayer service. Simple legislation could fix this, but the NRA's chokehold on legislators and its determined, border-line crazy supporters won't let us take even minimal steps to try and stem gun violence.
And if you think the problem with private gun transactions, which allow anyone to sell or give a firearm to someone else if the seller simply believes that the buyer is a good person, is just a specific case that will probably never come up again, think twice.
Just this weekend, I saw an AR-15 advertised for sale by a private individual on a local Buy, Sell, Trade page on Facebook. Having previously covered sales of firearms through methods like this, I know for a fact that some sellers simply do not check for licenses or criminal backgrounds.
Essentially, anyone with any sort of background or motive can obtain a firearm through the right channels today, and that is simply unacceptable. And before you say this is helpful since the best way to stop all these bad guys with guns is to give everyone a gun, let me ask this: where does it say that since you have a gun, you are suddenly a sharp-shooter?
Now you just have more people with a gun, whose backgrounds are mostly unchecked, firing at each other.
So if you're a hardcore conservative right now, you want people to keep talking about the Confederate flag. It keeps us away from fighting the real battle on gun control.
Taking the anti-racism angle on Charleston is fine, but bad guys who obtain guns can come up with many more different reasons to shoot people.