Grammy-nominated country music star Eric Church thinks the Las Vegas shooting could have been prevented were it not for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In a lengthy interview Church recently gave to Rolling Stone, the country singer said being at the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in which 58 people were killed and hundreds more were injured “wrecked [him] in a lot of ways.”
“It got dark for me for a while,” Church told the magazine. “I went through a period, a funk, for six months at least. I had anger. I’ve still got anger. Something broke in me that night, and it still hasn’t healed. There’s a part of me that hopes it haunts me forever.”
Even though he calls himself a “Second Amendment guy” and owns half a dozen rifles, shotguns, and pistols, even Eric Church believes in modest gun reform proposals, like banning bump stocks and closing the gun show loophole, in which buyers can get around more stringent background checks when buying firearms at a gun show. The platinum-selling artist said it was “fucked up” that the perpetrator of the shooting was able to singlehandedly hold off a SWAT team for several minutes with the sheer amount of weapons and ammunition he had in his hotel suite.
“Nobody should have 21 AKs and 10,000 rounds of ammunition and we don’t know who they are,” Church said.
The 64-year-old Vegas shooter was able to legally purchase all 47 of his firearms — 33 of which were bought just over the course of one year. Nevada has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country — all you need is a driver’s license in order to purchase a firearm, with no other required permit necessary. Gun owners can also open carry firearms in public, and there is no restriction on how many rounds can be in one magazine, nor are gun buyers restricted in the amount of firearms they can buy in any single transaction.
Nevada’s lackadaisical approach to policing firearms is likely at last partially due to the NRA’s political spending in the Silver State. In 2016 alone, the NRA’s political action committee spent $2.5 million in an unsuccessful effort to elect Republican Joe Heck to the U.S. Senate, and another $6.4 million in its unsuccessful bid to defeat a ballot question aimed at expanding background checks.
“I don’t care who you are – you shouldn’t have that kind of power over elected officials,” Church said. “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. I would question myself real hard about what I wanted to be in the next three, four, five years.”
In response to Church’s statement, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch suggested to arch-conservative blog The Daily Wire that Church may lose fans over his political stance.
“I’m sad to see Eric blame his fans for the acts of evil madmen,” Loesch said. “NRA members are the heartbeat of country music and they have a long memory, just ask the Dixie Chicks.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Grit Post does not publish the names of mass shooters, and we discourage other media outlets from doing so in order to avoid contributing to future mass shootings by making killers famous.)
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.