As you are almost certainly aware, tragedy occurred last week in Charleston, South Carolina. White supremacist Dylann Storm Roof entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and murdered nine people who were attending Bible study. Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims, was a South Carolina State Senator and gun control advocate.
Naturally, this restarted a conversation about gun control and our availability of deadly weapons. Unfortunately, this also restarted the need for some people to say exceptionally stupid and ignorant things online. One such individual was Charles Cotton, an NRA board member, who took to TexasCHLForum.com and posted:
“[Pinckney] 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. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
In other words, according to Cotton, Reverend Pinckney was responsible for his own death, and the death of eight of his congregants. Right.
Further digging revealed that NAME isn’t exactly a fan of the United States; in other posts, he mourned the “loss” of the Civil War:
The Slate article notes that Cotton later clarified; he was talking “purely from a states’ rights viewpoint and in light of the exponential growth of federal power after the war.”
In a subsequent interview, Cotton said that he made his comments as a private citizen, not a board member. The NRA also said that board members do not speak for the NRA, only themselves, in an apparent effort to distance themselves from the remarks.
I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of gun control or concealed carry; that’s not the point of this post. I do, however, want to discuss the astounding ignorance of this statement. Reverend Pinckney and eight of his congregants didn’t die because none of them had a gun; they died because Dylann Storm Roof murdered them. To make such a simplistic statement confounds logic and humanity. Also, Cotton said that he made these statements as an individual citizen, not as an NRA Board Member. However, the big “Join NRA” banner below his signature would seem to contradict that statement. Like it or not, when you make a statement like this, you are representing more than your own individual views – you are also representing the organizations of which you are a part.
Had Cotton not been an NRA board member, these statements never would have received the kind of publicity that they did; they just would have been written off as the crazy ramblings of an internet commenter. However, because of Cotton’s position, they became world-wide news, and that’s an important lesson.
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