Church, who performed at the 2017 Route 91 festival in Las Vegas two nights before a gunman opened fire from a nearby hotel, killing at least 58 people and injuring over 800, told Rolling Stone the massacre wrecked him emotionally.
“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. It wrecked me in a lot of ways,” Church told Rolling Stone. “I went through a period, a funk, for six months at least. I had anger. I’ve still got anger. Something broke in me that night, and it still hasn’t healed. There’s a part of me that hopes it haunts me forever.”
The singer said that while he supports the Second Amendment, something needs to be done to prevent someone from stockpiling weapons and ammunition while going undetected.
“I’m a Second Amendment guy,” Church said. “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.”
The “Desperate Man” singer called the NRA “a bit of a roadblock” to gun safety.
“I don’t care who you are – you shouldn’t have that kind of power over elected officials,” Church said. “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.”
Church called for people to work together to begin to find solutions to increase safety.
“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.”
Church isn’t the only country singer who’s spoken about gun reform.
In an interview with Billboard in April, Jason Aldean, who was on stage at the time of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, called the gun control debate a “no-win situation.” But the singer said he believes it’s too easy to get access to firearms.
“It’s too easy to get guns, first and foremost,” Aldean said. “When you can walk in somewhere and you can get one in 5 minutes, do a background check that takes 5 minutes, like how in-depth is that background check? Those are the issues I have. It’s not necessarily the guns themselves or that I don’t think people should have guns. I have a lot of them.”
In a 2017 interview with Billboard, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill called for “common sense” gun laws.
“Look, I’m a bird hunter — I love to wing-shoot,” McGraw told Billboard. “However, there is some common sense that’s necessary when it comes to gun control. They want to make it about the Second Amendment every time it’s brought up. It’s not about the Second Amendment.”
“In reference to the tragedy in Las Vegas, we knew a lot of people there,” Hill said. “The doctors that [treated] the wounded, they saw wounds like you’d see in war. That’s not right. Military weapons should not be in the hands of civilians. It’s everyone’s responsibility, including the government and the National Rifle Association, to tell the truth. We all want a safe country.”