Country Music: It's Time to Change Your Stance on Gun Control

I must admit, however, my patience with country music is growing weary since this tragedy. As someone who’s pretty involved politically, I enjoy celebrities using their platforms to further progressive change in the US. I’ve applauded Sarah Silverman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Demi Lovato for speaking out on issues. At the same time I’ve rolled my eyes at the country music community for staying relatively silent over on nearly every political issue out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason why the genre’s biggest stars are quiet. Country music fans are dedicated - to a fault. Much like the NFL is experiencing a dip in ratings because of the national anthem protests, country music singers fear their outspoken political views will alienate their fanbase should they not see eye to eye - whether that be gay marriage, abortion or simply endorsing a candidate. The die hard country fans are generally from red leaning states who more than anything else, love their conservative values. And honestly, I couldn’t necessarily blame the singers for putting their livelihood first no matter how annoying I found it.

But I’m blaming their silence now. Selling albums is important. Getting radio airplay is important. Connecting with your audience is important, but nothing is more important than the safety of your fans. Unfortunately, we have all become increasingly at risk of gun violence; we’re not even safe at a concert or a church service anymore.

The country music community was rocked with the most deadly mass shooting in American history, and one of it’s biggest stars, Jason Aldean - who ran for his life from the stage that night - would still not speak out against guns in this country. I waited and waited and waited for Carrie Underwood or Luke Bryan or Blake Shelton or Miranda Lambert or any of these giant country celebrities to say more than “thoughts and prayers” after the attack. I kept waiting.

We’re more than a month removed from the Las Vegas tragedy and still, only a handful of the genres biggest players have advocated for gun legislation. In fact, instead of taking a stand, any stand, the CMA Awards last week banned even mentioning of the shooting or any politics from the show - a move they later rescinded. The organization is more worried about their fan base’s dollars than their safety.

It’s easy to see why the country association would stiff arm any chatter that could go against their fan’s beliefs. Two of their iconic singers, couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, spoke in favor of “common sense” gun control this past week, and it did not not end well. Talking to Billboard, the couple spoke directly against the NRA saying, “They want to make it about the Second Amendment every time it’s brought up. It’s not about the Second Amendment. Military weapons should not be in the hands of civilians.” That strong stance was met with backlash from many of their fans.

And yet still, I have to think that country music knows the right thing to do here. I understand it’s not an easy conversation to have with fans. Again, we can go back to the NFL: Colin Kaepernick’s career came to a screeching halt after he challenged the beliefs of the league’s fan base by kneeling during the national anthem in protest, and I’m certain no country singer wants the same fate by speaking out in favor of gun legislation. But when lives are literally at stake, I wish those singers would ask themselves: What’s more important? I wish every gun owner in America would ask themselves the same question: What’s more important?

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© 2018 by Heather Gardner.