NASW Statement on mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina

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.


  1. Robert Chandler

    As a Social Worker, and person of Color, Black & Brown, who is interested in Social Justice…The flag must go!

    2) Change the Street Names of ALL the Those who supported the Confederate Regime.

    3) Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill. Replace Andrew Jackson. A Slave Supporter & Owner.

    4) Mark the Anniversary of the Charleston Shooting as a National Holiday in rememberance.

    5) Address gun control. Too many Non – People of Color are getting access to firearms are committing atrocities with LEGAL guns. Right to bear arms is farce if EVERYONE can’t own one. For People of Color who know…access is made difficult. Almost impossible in some areas.

    5) Charge & Convict Mr. Roof with a Hate Crime & Domestic Terrorism. To send a clear message to ALL who support Mr. Roof’s Actions, The Confederate Flag, it’s symbology and it’s ideology.

    Anything less is denial of Racism & Discrimination that some of us know still occur today! In Charleston SC & Nationwide.

    Thank You!

  2. “Sensible” “common sense” and “reasonable” gun-control is not appropriate, despite what the president said. What law, exactly, would have prevented this? This shooter PASSED A BACKGROUND CHECK, despite what the media initially reported. He reloaded FIVE TIMES, establishing that the ‘high capacity’ magazine threat is a fallacy. He was in YET ANOTHER ‘gun free zone’ and did that stop him from bringing in a gun? No. It merely stopped the decent citizens from bringing their own protection against him.
    Please stop thinking that something that sounds good on paper, like ‘sensible gun control’, yet will have no real-world efficacy (like our ‘War On Drugs’`s impact on our society’s substance-abuse problem), is what we need to pursue. Structural violence is built into our socio-economic disparity, and our mental-health system is one of the worst in the modern world (with Big Pharma rolling pills at people,…pills whose bottles clearly state: “WARNING: MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL/HOMICIDAL IDEATIONS”.
    Do our leaders actually do anything about these underlying problems? No. They go after quick-fixes like gun-control that are nothing but bandaids playing whack-a-mole with symptoms – and not even succeeding at that!

  3. ameejill whitlock, msw

    This entire article lost me at “sensible gun control”..I support the 2nd Amendment…this tragic situation isn’t about liberal gun control policy..this is about the racial terrorism of Black/African people in the United States..that needs to end not the creation of more restrictions of fire arms…

    • Thank you, Ameejill! I’m in full agreement with you! I fear for those who are ignorant enough to hate people who differ from themselves. I also fear for the faith community, who have endured attacks world-wide.

  4. Yvonne V Prioleau

    Well said!

  5. As a former social worker, mental health counselor and Pastor, I join you in prayers and advocacy for gun control, mental health access to treatment, and legal interventions against the evil of violence perpertrated by racial profiling and/or mental illnesses.

  6. i agree with most of what is said, but I don’t think those who are hateful and bigoted have a mental illness! We need to stop linking mass murders & racial hatred to mental illness! These horrible acts are well thought out by sound minds. We need to realize hate and racism are not a mental illness but a choice! I think it is an insult to those who are truly mentally ill. As mental health providers and advocates we need to advocate for these issues to be delt with leagelly!

    • Well said! Evil and hate are exactly what they are….let’s not classify them and view them as “treatable”.

      My prayers are with the families and friends of those who were shot last Wednesday. Love and light are sent to Charleston to help with the healing process.

    • Absolutley!!

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