A board member of the National Rifle Association has responded to the killing of nine people in an African-American church on Wednesday by blaming the pastor and state senator who was gunned down in the massacre.
Writing on the TexasCHLForum.com, Charles Cotton said Clementa Pinckney was to blame for the slaughter as he voted against a law that would have allowed congregants to carry concealed guns in churches. To clarify: the NRA is blaming a dead man for his own murder.
Suspected killer Dylann Roof appears via video link at the courthouse in South Carolina on Friday. The judge set his bail at $1 million
Cotton wrote: "[Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. 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."
Remarkably, Cotton did not blame Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old who was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of the murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a crime authorities are calling racially motivated.
Roof was arraigned on Friday, appearing in a South Carolina court via video link. Families of the victims addressed the suspected killer, many telling the young man they forgive him for his suspected crime.
The daughter of Ethel Lance, 70 told Roof: "I just want everyone to know, I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me.” A large crowd gathered outside the Charleston courthouse for the arraignment, many holding hands, singing songs and joining in prayer.
On Friday, US Federal authorities revealed they are investigating the shooting as a potential act of domestic terrorism, and not just as a potential hate crime.
"The department’s investigation of the shooting incident in Charleston, South Carolina, is ongoing," Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement. "This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community, and the department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism.”