As the collective side-eye shifts towards the gun control debate, in the aftermath of the Charleston Massacre, one National Rifle Association leader is being taken to task for his shocking perspective on who's responsible.
Charles Cotton, an NRA board memeber based in Texas, posted then deleted a controversial view that places the blame on Rev. Clementa Pickney for not having his own gun to protect himself and his congregation from Dylann Roof, who sat for an hour taking in bible study at Emanuel AME before opening fire and killing nine people.
"Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead," Cotton potificated via an online forum. He pointed to Pickney's seat as a state senator. "Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue," he added, making note of Pickney's voting record on concealed-carry (see below).
The uproar resounded immediately. One organization, Faithful America started a petition demanding an apology and requesting that Cotton vacate his position. "Please remove him from your board and apologize immediately –– to his family, to the church, and to Christians everywhere who don't allow guns in their churches," it reads.
Though he removed his comment, Cotton is standing firm. "It's my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones," he told The Washington Post.
"We do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," President Obama said Thursday (June 18). He's addressed 14 mass shootings since taking office. "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it."
Watch BET.com's exclusive What's At Stake Community Reacts to Charleston Massacre in the video below.
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(Photos from top: Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier via AP, TexasCHLForum.com)