Country Music Not 'Gun' Music

The Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville, TN. Photo by Bryce Edwards

Following the Las Vegas shooting, country music has been thrust into the national conversation just as guns have. In particular, we have been able to see people’s biases regarding country music fans. In particular, that they’re not only likely to be conservatives, but that country music is somehow “gun music.”


To be fair, these voices are few and far between, but it’s still hurtful when people who enjoy country music are branded as somehow deserving this because of their choice of music. USAToday’s Kurt Bardella, however, offers some things people should keep in mind.

A lot of conversations I’ve had with reporters lately have revolved around the so-called “gun culture” of country music. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the country music genre has come under a new level of scrutiny.

To those unfamiliar with country music, it may be easy to label it as music for gun-toting, rednecks from “The South,” but settling for this stereotype demonstrates willful ignorance.

The country music community is not as monolithic as outsiders might think, a fact that’s been increasingly visible since the Las Vegas attack as musicians speak out and in some cases change their minds. “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life … I cannot express how wrong I was,” wrote Caleb Keter of the Josh Abbott Band, which performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, Roseanne, published a New York Times op-ed calling on her fellow country music artists to “stand up to the N.R.A.” Rolling Stone reports that multiple artists are re-evaluating their partnerships with the NRA’s lifestyle brand “NRA Country.”

There are in fact a lot of country songs about guns and huntin,’ just as there are fans of country music who embrace that culture. And there is nothing wrong with that. But nothing that happened in Las Vegas is the fault of law-abiding American citizens who like to hunt and fish.

It always perplexes me when someone from a completely different life experience judges or criticizes another simply because it’s different. No one upbringing is superior to another. In times like this, we would all be better served to reach outside of our comfort zone and try to walk in a stranger’s shoes.


Bardella makes an excellent point on several fronts. While Caleb Keeter might not have been the lifelong defender of Second Amendment rights he’s claimed to have been, the overall point stands. Country music attracts Americans from a variety of political persuasions. It’s a genre that has both the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith, after all.

It’s also worth noting that while guns and outdoor activities are not uncommon in country music, it’s not where guns get the most mention. No, that would be in hip-hop where guns seem to be a predominant theme among artists who then side politically with the left more often than not, even mocking people who want to carry a firearm for personal protection. In fact, much of hip-hop portrays violence as a normal part of everyday life.

It’s funny how even mentioning this in connection with gang violence is forbidden, but some apparently feel justified in talking about the “gun culture” of country music.


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