Politics & Policy

Country-Music Star Blames NRA for Las Vegas Shooting

Eric Church performs at the American Country Countdown Awards in Nashville in 2014. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)

Country-music star Eric Church suggested in a recent interview that the NRA’s fierce opposition to gun-control laws was to blame for the mass shooting that claimed 58 lives at a country concert in Las Vegas last fall.

Church, who performed at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas two days before the October massacre, described himself as a “gun guy” in his interview with Rolling Stone, but argued that powerful gun lobbyists obstruct reforms that may have prevented the slaughter.

“There are some things we can’t stop,” Church said. “Like the disgruntled kid who takes his dad’s shotgun and walks into a high school. But we could have stopped the guy in Vegas. . . . I blame the lobbyists. And the biggest in the gun world is the NRA.”

The 41-year-old star suggested that implementing federal legislation requiring background checks for all gun purchases, including those made at gun shows, might have prevented Stephen Paddock from acquiring his legally purchased guns. Paddock purchased the weapons used to kill concertgoers at a gun store and, due to his lack of a criminal record, passed all requisite background checks.

“I don’t care who you are — you shouldn’t have that kind of power over elected officials. To me it’s cut-and-dried: The gun-show [loophole] would not exist if it weren’t for the NRA, so at this point in time, if I was an NRA member, I would think I had more of a problem than the solution,” Church said. “I would question myself real hard about what I wanted to be in the next three, four, five years.”

Church also offered legislation prohibiting the sale of “bump stocks” — devices, such as those used by Paddock, that effectively increase a semi-automatic firearm’s rate of fire to mimic that of a fully automatic weapon — as a potential preventative measure. But that point is now largely moot: The Department of Justice announced in March that it would expand the definition of “machine gun” to include bump stocks, effectively banning the devices.

The NRA opposed the bump-stock ban, along with increased purchasing-age limits and a number of other regulations that gained popular support following the Las Vegas shooting.

“Start with the bump stocks and the gun shows. Shut a couple of these down. I do think that will matter a little bit. I think it will save some lives,” Church said. “As a gun guy, the number of rounds [the shooter] fired was unf—ing believable to me. I saw a video on YouTube from the police officer’s vest cam, and it sounded like an army was up there. I don’t think our forefathers ever thought the right to bear arms was that.”

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