With its usual class, the NRA blames the victim for being dead

as30hq3pg6z49bxaeyz5gbfasl0bk9cooumbrmhjerygvky06m7w6xxwfhyen6vfNRA board member Charles Cotton asserts Rev. Pinckney and eight of his parishioners are dead because, as a state senator, he voted against concealed carry. There are several problems with his argument:

1. South Carolina already allows concealed carry.

2. The bill I believe Cotton is talking about would merely remove the permit requirement. It passed the South Carolina House by 90-18 in April, but was tabled for further study in the Senate, where Republicans have a 28-18 majority, because law enforcement opposes the bill. Thus, while the bill dropping the permit requirement didn’t pass this session, it neither prevented any of the victims from carrying concealed weapons, nor did it fail to pass because of Sen. Pinckney’s vote. In fact, it appears he didn’t have an opportunity to vote for or against it, although I’m not certain of that.

3. If I’m mistaken, and Cotton is referring to South Carolina’s existing concealed carry law, then all I can say is that even if Sen. Pinckney voted against it, that law didn’t prevent the victims of this week’s shooting from carrying concealed handguns for the simple reason that the law passed, with or without Pinckney’s vote.

pastor-quote4. Maybe what Cotton referred to is a provision of South Carolina law that prohibits permit holders from carrying concealed guns into churches. However, it’s legal if a church official gives expression permission. Gun rights advocates are making much of the fact that a stricter law wouldn’t have stopped Dylann Roof, because he was already breaking the law by taking his gun into the church, but that’s because he didn’t have the church’s permission. No South Carolina law stopped Rev. Pinckney from allowing his parishioners to pack heat in Bible study. If he chose not to, well, we don’t know that (and neither does Mr. Cotton).

5. Assuming the Charleston victims had been armed with concealed handguns, that doesn’t guarantee they could have shot Dylann Roof before he shot them. It takes less than 3 seconds to empty a .45 semi-auto pistol by rapidly pulling the trigger. I know, because I own one.

6. Roof caught the victims by surprise. They didn’t know his intentions until he started shooting. Even if Rev. Pinckney or one of the others managed to pull a gun and shoot Roof, he still would have shot several of them before any of them could get off any rounds at him.

7. Even if everyone goes around armed on the chance that someday a stranger might fire on them without warning, good guys don’t always win gunfights, except in movies. Maybe Mr. Cotton watches too many cowboy flicks.

8. Meanwhile, the death toll from well-meaning but careless or clumsy gun owners who feel a necessity to be armed everywhere they go, including church, will far exceed the nerve-jangling but nevertheless limited toll exacted by psychos with easy access to guns who go bonkers and shoot a bunch of people. Mass shootings aren’t exactly rare, but deaths from such incidents are far fewer than the approximately 600 Americans killed by gun accidents every year.

Update: Mother Jones has now done a story about Cotton’s remarks here.

gunfight_zpsfd61d7f5Image: Artist’s depiction of a safer Sunday church service as visualized by NRA board member Charles Cotton 

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