NRA Official Blames Victim for Church Massacre

Board member Charles Cotton deletes comments about Clementa Pinckney
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2015 6:44 AM CDT
In this June 3, 2014 photo, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney speaks at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. He was killed in the church shooting.   (Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier via AP)

(Newser) – An NRA board member is catching flak for blaming one of the victims in the Charleston church shooting for the deaths. On a message board he runs, Charles Cotton took issue with church leader Clementa Pinckney, who also happened to be a state senator in South Carolina. The post: "And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead." The Houston-area resident has since deleted the post and said he wasn't speaking in his capacity as an NRA board member, reports the Chronicle.

"It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones," he tells the Washington Post. "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." The Post cites an array of studies refuting the idea that more guns means more safety, and the NRA has distanced itself from Cotton's statement. "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA and do not have the authority to speak for the NRA," says a spokesperson. (Suspect Dylann Roof appeared in court yesterday, as relatives of the victims said they forgive him.)

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