Eric Church believes that the gunman who killed 58 people and injured over 800 more in Las Vegas last year could have been ‘stopped.’ Here’s why he’s placing the blame on the NRA.
Just two days before the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in modern U.S. history took place at the Route 91 festival in Las Vegas, Eric Church performed at that very same venue as one of the festival’s headliners. Although he was back home on the night of the massacre itself, being so closely tied to the event has changed his views on guns “a little,” he told our sister site Rolling Stone in an interview.
“It’s selfish of me,” he said, recalling how he felt the moment he turned on the news and saw the horrific scene. “But my first thought was, ‘I hope it’s not our fans.’ We had a lot of fans there. We even promoted online travel options to make it easier for people to come. 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.”
In total, 58 people died in the attack, and more than 800 others were injured. Several of the victims were fans of Church — Sonny Melton, a 29-year-old fan from Tennessee, was even buried in an Eric Church t-shirt. “It got dark for me for a while,” the country singer went on. “Something broke in me that night, and it still hasn’t healed. There’s a part of me that hopes it haunts me forever.”
While Church does own about half a dozen guns including rifles, shotguns and pistols – but no AR-15s – his outlook on owning weapons has altered a bit. “I’m a Second Amendment guy,” he explained. “That’s in the Constitution, it’s people’s right, and I don’t believe it’s negotiable. 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 f***ed up.”
Church said that he supports reforms like closing gun-show loopholes, improving background checks and banning bump stocks. However, there are certain shootings he thinks can’t be prevented. “There are some things we can’t stop,” he said. “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 also has an idea as to why we haven’t seen any sort of real change. “I blame the lobbyists. And the biggest in the gun world is the NRA,” Church said.
Church, who isn’t and has never been a member of the NRA, thinks it’s wrong how much power the group has over government officials. He’s also aware that he could face fan backlash for voicing these beliefs. “I don’t care,” 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.”