NRA Official Blames Slain Pastor/Lawmaker Clementa Pinckney for Charleston Church Massacre
It took less than a day after the deadliest US gun massacre in nearly two years for a high-ranking National Rifle Association official to blame the slaughter on its most prominent victim.
Think Progress reports NRA board member Charles Cotton blamed Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and a beloved South Carolina state lawmaker, for the slaughter, in which a racist white gunman shot dead nine worshippers at a Wednesday night prayer meeting.
The Democrat is responsible for the deaths, Cotton argued, because he supported more stringent gun control legislation and opposed a 2011 bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed guns in churches and child day-care centers.
“Eight of [Pinckney’s] church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead,” Cotton wrote on theTexasCHLForum.com message board. “Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
Cotton was predictably joined by right-wing media pundits who asserted that arming everyone to the teeth will make America safe. The answer to the national epidemic of gun violence, they argue, is more guns.
“Had somebody in that church had a gun, they probably would have been able to stop him,” Fox News Channel host Steve Doocy argued hours after the massacre. “If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take him out.”
As a Democratic state lawmaker, Pinckney introduced legislation that would have made it more difficult for mentally ill people to obtain assault-style rifles. Addicting Info reports his bill would have required extensive background checks and a personal interview to determine if individuals are fit to possess such potentially destructive firepower. Alas, South Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature killed Pinckney’s bill.
Cotton, a Texan, raised eyebrows and ire earlier this year when he responded to state Rep. Alma Allen’s (D) attempt to ban corporal punishment in schools by expressing his disgust with the lawmaker.
“I’m sick of this woman and her ‘don’t touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again’ attitude,” Cotton raged on the same Internet forum where he blamed Pinckney for the Charleston massacre. “Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later.”
This also isn’t the first time the NRA has shamelessly followed a mass shooting tragedy by calling for more guns. Less than a week after the horrific December 2012 massacre of 27 people, including 20 elementary school students, in Newtown, Connecticut, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre held a press conference at which he called for more guns to solve America’s gun problem—on the same day four people were killed in yet another mass shooting in Pennsylvania.
LaPierre blamed the media, violent video games and movies, President Obama, gun-free school zones and music videos—everything but guns—for what is undeniably a public health crisis of epidemic proportions. There have been no fewer than 200 mass shootings, defined as incidents in which at least four people were killed, since 2006, and gun violence is the second-leading killer of young Americans. On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns each and every day.
As for guns in churches, which are supposed to be places of peace, worship and forgiveness, at least six states—Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas—have laws in place protecting the right to bear arms in places of religious worship.
Dozens of churches across the nation also use gun classes as a way to attract new members. One church in Oklahoma even planned to give away an AR-15 assault rifle to a teenager in a 2008 contest to encourage youth attendance but canceled the promotion following national outrage.
Then there’s Ken Pagano, pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, who made international headlines in 2009 when he invited his flock to bring their guns to church to “celebrate our rights as Americans.”
“Not every Christian denomination is pacifist,” Pagano explained to the New York Times. Pagano’s “God, Guns, Gospel and Geometry” sermon was a big hit, as was ‘Bring Your Guns to Church Day,’ at which parishioners participated in a $1 handgun raffle, firearms safety lessons and a picnic.