The particular horror of church shootings

Shootings at houses of worship can be particularly disorienting for both parishioners and community members—attacking during prayer is a way of hitting people at a moment of vulnerability, and exploiting the openness on which many communities pride themselves.

“Churches, you don’t lock the doors,” Joey Spann, minister of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, told The Tennessean after the shooting attack on his church. “But we may have to. It’s sad.”

The list of attacks goes on and on. In 2015, when Dylann Roof opened fire in the Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the victims felt their welcome of a stranger had been rewarded with violence. “Every night somebody else gets killed in this country, and I have to relive that pain,” Sharon Risher, the daughter of Ethel Lance, one of the people who died, told Time. “I know what these people are going through.”

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