Fair enough. Let’s almost not execute him.

This seems to answer the lingering question of what was running through this degenerate’s mind while he sat through a Bible study meeting with a group of people he intended to murder in cold blood. I was thinking about that last night and couldn’t recall another case where a terrorist spent time getting to know his victims in an intimate setting before opening fire. To the extent you can understand the mind of a mass murderer, you would think dehumanization of the target is key. And the easiest way to dehumanize is to open fire immediately, before the humanity of the people you’re killing has time to penetrate your mind. The fact that Roof didn’t do that made me think he either relished the fact of their humanity, secretly enjoying the power he knew he had to end their lives, or wavered a bit because of it before he finally resolved to do what he’d come to do.

Could have been both, of course.

The man who shot and killed nine parishioners at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, told police that he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,” sources told NBC News.

And yet Dylann Roof decided he had to “go through with his mission.”

A good point via Twitter: Admitting to last-minute qualms all but destroys Roof’s chances for an insanity defense. Under South Carolina law, to prove insanity you need to show that you were mentally ill when the crime was committed and that, due to your illness, you “lacked the capacity to distinguish moral or legal right from moral or legal wrong or to recognize the particular act charged as morally or legally wrong.” Getting cold feet because the victims have been kind to you means you did have a sense that your actions were wrong. That may help Roof during the sentencing phase — there’s still some humanity in him — but it’s devastating during the trial phase. And even when it comes to sentencing, how much does it help him really to know that he had misgivings before he stood up and shot nine people to death, reloading five times in the process? Whatever humanity was left in him, it wasn’t enough. Throw the switch.

Another lingering question from yesterday: How many people had reason to know he was up to no good? One friend, Dalton Tyler, told ABC that he’d been planning something for six months. Now another friend tells the Times that he was so concerned about Roof’s intentions that he actually stole his .45 and hid it — temporarily.

“He was saying all this stuff about how the races should be segregated, that whites should be with whites,” Mr. Meek said. “I could tell there was something inside him, there was something he wouldn’t let go. I was trying to tell him, ‘What’s wrong?’ All he would say was that he was planning to do something crazy.”

At first [Joseph] Meek said he did not take Mr. Roof seriously. But he became worried enough that several weeks ago he took away and hid Mr. Roof’s .45-caliber handgun, which Mr. Roof had bought with money given to him by his parents for his 21st birthday. But at the urging of his girlfriend, Mr. Meek returned the weapon because he was on probation and did not want to get into trouble…

Asked why Mr. Roof picked that particular church, Mr. Meek replied, “Because it was a black church.”

Early news reports claimed that Roof’s father had bought him the gun as a birthday present. Roof, though, has reportedly told cops that he bought the gun himself at a Charleston gun store, which makes his chatter at the time about “planning something” that much more credible. Why didn’t Meek or Tyler take him seriously? And which store sold him the gun? Federal law already makes it illegal for someone with felony charges pending against him to buy a gun; Roof was facing felony drug-possession charges from February. It would also be illegal under state law for Roof to have the gun on him at the church, notes David Harsanyi, unless he had a concealed-carry permit, which seems unlikely for a guy with a record. In fact, notes Harsanyi, “South Carolina law also prohibits drug addicts from obtaining or possessing firearms, and numerous news reports suggest Roof was likely addicted to both prescription and illegal narcotics.” Roof’s gun wasn’t an “assault weapon” either, writes Charles Cooke, and he didn’t use high-capacity magazines, the two feelgood measures most frequently touted by leftists as part of their gun-ban wishlist, so Obama’s post-Newtown plans wouldn’t have done anything more to stop this than the law already did. The law on the books should have prevented it. Roof apparently broke it. What now?