But he even made things more explicit. During his massacre, Roof reportedly told one of the victims, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
People who knew Roof describe him as “quiet” but consumed by racism.
“’I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs,’ he said. ‘He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.’
“But now, ‘the things he said were kind of not joking,’ Mullins added.”
And then there was the drugs. Roof was a “heavy” drug user, according to a high school peer. “He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.” He was recently arrested on drug charges.
All of this to say that when his dad gave him a .45-caliber pistol for his 21st birthday, he was filling in the “how” for us. How could this 21-year-old man do this? Because he was an unrepentant racist hellbent on causing terror in the black community — and his family just gave him the means to do something about it.
The United States has a funny relationship with its most ardent terrorist groups. White power or fringe right-wing anti-government groups kill more Americans per year than radical Muslims, but we tend to give them a pass. That’s not to say we don’t know about these groups; the FBI and terrorism watchdogs are well aware that these kinds of groups are the number one threat to American citizens in the United States — they say so themselves in their reports. Instead, we excuse them when they kill or rationalize their behavior. We almost never call them what they are: terrorists.
If we did, we would have to reckon with the fact that many people in the United States could be described as aiding and abetting terrorists. We’d have to treat these men and women as terrorist sympathizers and their actions would be considered criminal. Americans are arrested all the time for providing even cursory help to foreign terrorists. In February of this year, six Americans were arrested around the country for the crime of “providing material support to terrorists” in Syria. It’s hard to see how giving a handgun to your son whom you know is a white supremacist and drug addict isn’t providing material support to a dangerous radical with the good chance that it may someday be used in the execution of an act of terror. In fact, it only took Dylann Roof a few months from the moment he got his birthday present to the day he chose to walk into a bible study and open fire.
White supremacists with guns are terrifying and dangerous. Giving them guns should make you culpable for their actions, like handing car keys to a drunk. And if Dylann Roof is a terrorist, then arming him makes you a supporter of terrorism.