- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2018

Country music star Eric Church blamed the National Rifle Association for the Las Vegas music festival shooting last year, saying the organization wields too much power in Washington and created the conditions necessary for Stephen Paddock to carry out his horrific attack.

“There are some things we can’t stop,” Mr. Church told Rolling Stone in an interview this week. “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,” he added. “I’m a Second Amendment guy, but I feel like they’ve been a bit of a roadblock. 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.”

Mr. Church said he didn’t care that his position might be unpopular among country music fans.

“Right’s right and wrong’s wrong,” he said. “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.”

Mr. Church said he is a big “Second Amendment guy,” owning about half a dozen rifles, shotguns and pistols, but he thinks the amount of guns and ammo an individual can own should have its limits.

“That’s in the Constitution, it’s people’s right, and I don’t believe it’s negotiable,” he said of the right to bear arms. “But nobody should have that many guns and that much ammunition and we don’t know about it. Nobody should have 21 AKs and 10,000 rounds of ammunition and we don’t know who they are. Something’s gotta be done so that a person can’t have an armory and pin down a Las Vegas SWAT team for six minutes. That’s [expletive] up.”

Mr. Church said he supported “common sense” gun reforms, like closing gun-show loopholes, improving background checks and banning bump stocks.

“As a gun guy, the number of rounds [the shooter] fired was un-[expletive]-believable to me,” he said. “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.”

Mr. Church headlined the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas strip two nights before 64-year-old Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 concertgoers and wounding hundreds more. Mr. Church said he was back home in Nashville when he got the news in a text message.

“It wrecked me in a lot of ways,” Mr. Church told Rolling Stone.

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