National Rifle Association board member Charles L. Cotton opined on an online gun-rights forum that if deceased Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal pastor Clementa Pinckney had allowed congregants to carry weapons into the Charleston, S.C., church, innocent people might not have died, the Washington Post reports.
According to the news site, Cotton, who also runs the TexasCHLForum.com, brought up Pinckney's voting record as a state senator when an online commentor noted his position as a state legislator. "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," Cotton reportedly wrote in response in the thread, which has since been deleted. "Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."
Cotton later spoke to the Post to clarify his position, saying that he made his statement as a private citizen who runs the group and not as an NRA board member: "It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. 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."
Cotton believes, the Post reports, that if citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, there would be fewer mass shootings because there would be no gun-free areas to target, and if someone still opened fire, "if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens."
Read more at the Washington Post.