Eric Church blames NRA and gun lobbyists for Las Vegas mass shooting
'I don’t care who you are – you shouldn’t have that kind of power over elected officials,' says Eric Church, talking about the power that the NRA and gun lobbyists wield in USA
Eric Church was one of the headliners at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on the night of Sunday, October 1, 2017, the scene of the massacre known as the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in modern US history. After the incident, Church paid tribute to the 58 people who lost their lives on that fateful day with a heart-wrenching song called 'Why Not Me' and a heartfelt speech during a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Fellow country singer Jason Aldean was performing when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired at concertgoers from the windows of his 32nd-floor room in Mandalay Bay resort.
Now, nine months after the shooting, in a recent in-depth interview with Rolling Stone, the country music star reflects on the tragedy, calling out the National Rifle Association (NRA) in particular for being a "roadblock" in gun control reform.
"There are some things we can’t stop,” Church says during the interview. “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.” He adds, “I blame the lobbyists. And the biggest in the gun world is the NRA.”
While he maintains that he still considers himself a “Second Amendment guy,” Church said that the Vegas shooting changed his feelings about guns "a little," expressing sheer disbelief at the amount of ammunition the shooter possessed at the time.
"As a gun guy, the number of rounds fired was un-f**king-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."
As Billboard points out, although Church was no longer in Vegas when the shooting took place (he performed at the festival as a two nights prior to the shooting), he knew some of his fans were in that crowd. Church had promoted travel packages to make it easier for fans to attend Route 91, which made him feel a sense of guilt once he heard the news.
"I felt like the bait: People come to see you play, then all of a sudden they die? That is not an emotion that I was prepared to deal with. It wrecked me in a lot of ways,” he says in the Rolling Stone interview.
Several of Church's fan club members were victims. One of the 58 who were killed was a 29-year-old named Sonny Melton, who was buried in an Eric Church T-shirt. “It got dark for me for a while,” the singer admits. “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.”
Expressing his views emphatically about the disproportionate power that the NRA and the gun lobbyists wield in the country, Church ranted: "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. I would question myself real hard about what I wanted to be in the next three, four, five years.”
Church's comments have unsurprisingly already elicited a flood of responses on social media. While many country fans denounced his statements, many supported the 'Desperate Man' singer's views. But Church seems to be unfazed by what others think about this and he made that clear in the interview: “Right’s right and wrong’s wrong," Church asserts. "I don’t understand why we have to fear a group [like the NRA]. It’s asinine. Why can’t we come together and solve one part of this? 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.”
Goodbye eric church. How about we take away your 1st amendment rights an you can't sing anymore. #2ndamendment— Surgeon911 (@seeknaygo1) July 26, 2018
BREAKING— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) July 26, 2018
Country Music Star Eric Church blamed the @NRA for the Las Vegas shooting, saying that they are being a "roadblock" to safety, in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Thanks you @ericchurch for your honesty!
I'm going to buy your album even though I hate country music!