I understand. For those of you who are for strong new gun regulations that could potentially help prevent the massacre like we saw in Las Vegas, the idea of mainstream country music’s top artists coming out against the NRA is a salivating, sumptuous idea since these public personalities hold such sway over huge swaths of conservative America where the stronghold of the pro-gun mindset dwells.
But it’s never going to happen. Ever. And the reason is very very simple, and it’s the same reason your Senator or Congressman won’t come out against the NRA either, even if you’re living in a Democrat-controlled district in some instances. It’s because they’ve been bought by the NRA and other pro-gun special interests—literally paid to oppose any such notions of gun control at every turn. Many mainstream country music artists are literally on the NRA payroll, and purposely so to create a buffer between the NRA and any new gun legislation that may arise, and command an influence on every sector of the American culture, not just our governmental institutions.
There is just as much of a chance that Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan will come out in staunch opposition to the NRA or strong gun control as there is the people writing think pieces and op-ed’s commanding them to do so will somehow miraculously become NRA supporters. There is as much chance that serious gun regulation will pass Congress and be signed into law by President Trump in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting as there is celebrity country stars will endorse it. In other words, there is absolutely no chance at all, whatsoever.
And even if a mainstream country music star did come out in vehement opposition to the NRA, the effort would be completely fruitless, or even potentially counterproductive. If Jason Aldean called a press conference to enumerate a laundry list of ideas that he believed could help prevent the slaughter he witnessed befall his own fans at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, whatever bully pulpit he may inhabit over his fan base would be immediately vacated in the raining down of boos and hisses, while he’d be shouted down as a libtard, a pussy, and a faggot. They’d be burning his records in Wal-Mart parking lots before dark, and all Aldean would have done is wreck his career, lost his Outdoor industry endorsements, and likely his major label deal.
What do you think the point of mainstream country music is? Have you actually taken the time to listen to the songs, especially those which exist primarily through the support of mainstream corporate country radio? The music itself holds little to no value, with some notable exceptions of course. Mainstream country is simply a vehicle to reinforce a lock step corporate culture that promotes the propping up of major American corporate brands and the pumping of cash into various consumer sectors through rabid consumerism. It is just as likely that mainstream country artists will come out vehemently opposed to domestic-made full size pickup trucks or corporate beer as they will the NRA. Which again, is nil. Who do you think greases the wheels of the mainstream country machine? Who do you think sponsors all of the tours, and keeps money flowing to the coffers of Music Row’s major labels? It’s the auto industry, it’s big beer, and it’s Outdoor outfitters and other such recreational companies, and it’s the NRA.
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, you should have seen some of the sheer horror on the faces of certain folks as a list of the country artists endorsed by the NRA was passed around. You would have thought it was like a run down of the membership of the Ku Klux Klan from some of the reactions. The fact that there’s a list out there with names such as Frankie Ballard, Luke Combs, Easton Corbin, Justin Moore, Eric Paslay, Aaron Watson, and even the sensible Drake White as all working with the NRA was like a horrific discovery for so many, especially after Rosanne Cash published an op-ed in The New York Times saying the NRA outright sponsors domestic terrorism.
But this mainstream country/NRA stuff has been going on for years. It should be no surprise. Mainstream country has been in bed with the NRA and the Outdoor gun sports industry for the better part of a decade. And they’re not going to get out now.The NRA was a primary sponsors of the ACM Awards in 2012. But for some reason, people still believe that country artists need to be challenged to speak up politically. But don’t you understand that if they did, what they would say would be in direct opposition to your viewpoint, and only reinforce the pro-gun, pro NRA mindset in the populous of mainstream country listeners? Do you really think they’re going to change their political affiliations like a light switch just because you want them to?
The Million Mom March in May of 2000, the Obama Administration, and any threats at new regulations of the gun industry have only caused incredibly huge spikes in gun sales and ownership in the United States, and swelled donations and new members to the NRA more than the organization could ever do via self promotion. Rest assured, sales of bump stocks are going to go through the roof right now as manufactures ramp up production to attempt to get as many sold before new regulations could come into effect, especially now that the NRA has shown interest in going along with that one very small new regulation to quench the fires they find burning on their doorstep once again.
I’m not taking a side here, and my only desire to broach a contentious political subject is only to point out the blaring obvious, which is calling mainstream country music performers to arms over the NRA is not only ineffective, it is very likely to be counter-productive to that particular cause. It also creates a battleground out of country music, when music is supposed to be a place apart from the political, aside from some exceptions.
When Michael Moore filmed the anti-gun movie Bowling For Columbine, he was a registered member of the NRA, as were so many individuals who lived in rural areas of America, or owned guns responsibly. When I was growing up, I was taught gun safety, and gun awareness, and responsible gun ownership in programs funded and coordinated through the NRA via the Boy Scouts of America. There is no other organization that has done more to promote and teach gun safety and responsible gun ownership in the history of the United States than the NRA.
Then in the 90’s, especially around the time of the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, lobbying became a function and focal point for the NRA, pushed further to the fringes of the issue by even more strident anti gun reg organizations that said the NRA was too lax on the issue, causing the organization to fear losing their donor base. Even today, you can find other gun organizations that say the NRA doesn’t go far enough, always forcing them to take harder stances than even many of their own constituents or leadership feel are fair or necessary. These are the same type of pressures that lead to the further polarization of the United States on both sides of the divide. Organizations are fueled by the donations and attention of hardliners, meaning that’s who they must keep happy, while the moderate and pragmatic in America get squeezed out of the process.
The “thoughts and prayers are not enough” crowd feel like vehement action is needed on this issue, and now. And that is completely understandable, and even commendable. Pro-gun or anti-gun, everyone is incredibly grief-stricken by the the actions of a crazed madman with an arsenal at his dispose. But guilt tripping the Gomer Pyle’s of America’s country music mainstream will never be an effective measure to enact change. Maybe that’s a sad estimation, but it’s a bitter dose of realism for those to the left of this issue that should be heeded.
And folks are giving themselves false hope by posting stories about some country artists saying they have no affiliation with the NRA, which some don’t directly. But saying you’re unaffiliated when asked, and coming out in opposition are two separate things, while others in mainstream country have ties to the gun industry inadvertently through their endorsement deals with Outdoor sports companies. The story of the defection of Josh Abbott’s guitar player to the gun control side is anecdotal at best, and doesn’t reflect anything close to the wholesale movement of country stars to NRA opposition that some are wishing for.
You truly want to change the environment that allows such massacres like the one in Las Vegas to occur? Combat the corruption of the political process via special interest money that gives organizations like the NRA and similar ones on the left incredible power, and which might put the NRA’s attention back on promoting responsible gun ownership as opposed to promoting the most unregulated environment possible. What’s going on right now in the American political process is no different than the corruption and the purchasing of power and influence that corrupts many South American countries, only it’s legal. It also mirrors the reason country music has become nothing more than a big commercial for corporate brands. The music has been bought to peddle influence to the public.
You want to make a difference? Foist the voices of pragmatism and consensus to the forefront, instead of inadvertently elevating the strident ones by giving them undue attention, enabling continued gridlock, and the killing of consensus-based progress. Attempt to find common ground with adversaries as opposed to praying for their absolute annihilation, which will never occur. And then perhaps we will have a country that cannot only come together to solve problems more commonly, but perhaps one that doesn’t commonly inspire people to their release their frustrations with society via mass murder on innocent bystanders.