The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers its condolences to the families and friends of the nine people who lost their lives in the June 17 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
This senseless tragedy has shaken the nation and is an example of the deadly consequences of racial hatred and unfettered access to guns.
NASW realizes there are no quick fixes that will prevent mass shootings, including those motivated by racial, ethnic or religious hatred, but true to our history of supporting civil and human rights we remain committed to joining other organizations in supporting legislation that would enact sensible gun control, end racial profiling and increase funding for mental health services.
That these tragic deaths occurred in a black church is not lost upon us. It conjures up images of 1963 when four little black girls died when racists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
Since that time, this nation has made tremendous strides to end racial strife and improve mental health treatment, but not enough. NASW remains dedicated to addressing the underlying social issues that cause such incidents to occur and will work with lawmakers, other organizations, and our communities to bring about needed reform.
Examples of our ongoing efforts include being an active member of The Justice Roundtable which supports the Mental Health Reform Act sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
In addition, NASW is a member of the End Racial Profiling Working Group, which is a national committee that is sponsored by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights (LCCR). Finally, NASW has submitted testimony to Congress on gun violence and has developed Social Justice Briefs on the topic of mass murders as a result of the proliferation of firearms in this country.