A board member for the National Rifle Association blamed pastor and South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney for not only his own death, but the deaths of eight others in Wednesday night’s terrorist attack at his church, Think Progressreported on Thursday night.
Charles “Chas” Cotton made the remark on the Texas Concealed Handgun License (TexasCHL) forum, which bills itself as “the focal point for Texas firearms information and discussions.” Cotton, who is listed as a moderator on the site, made the derogatory remark in a thread concerning the mass shooting.
“He voted against concealed-carry,” Cotton said of Pinckney. “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.”
A screenshot of Cotton’s statement can be seen below:
Pinckney was the head pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for five years and a member of the state Senate since 2000. The bill, which was proposed in 2011, would have allowed gun owners to bring their firearms into not only churches, but daycare centers and restaurants, but ultimately failed.
Authorities identified the other victims on Thursday as 45-year-old Rev. Sharonda Singleton; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., 74; Myra Thompson, 59; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lee Lance, 70; Cynthia Hurd, 54; and 87-year-old Susie Jackson.
The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was apprehended on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Cotton argued on the TexasCHL website that teachers should be allowed to spank students so that he would not have to “put a bullet” in them. He has also accused President Barack Obama and “multi-billionaires Michael Bloomberg and George Soros,” among others of being part of a plot to undermine Second Amendment rights, particularly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in December 2012.
“The anti-gun response by all of those making up the Obama-Bloomberg Coalition was too rapid, too coordinated, too well-funded, and too consistent to have been an impromptu response to the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut,” Cotton wrote in a blog post a month after the attack. “President Obama obviously wanted to wait until after the presidential election to launch his the anti-gun campaign.”
Tom Boggioni contributed to this report