Following Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, many country musicians and fans have been wondering about guns and safety – about how far the government should act and whether people can still feel safe going to concerts.
But country legend Charlie Daniels has a different take on it.
“I feel like this is an anomaly,” said the Wilmington native, calling Friday from a tour stop in New Mexico. “I think this guy was a nut, a problem waiting to happen. I think if we let ourselves be made afraid of those kinds of things, we’re done and the bad guys have won.”
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Country superstar Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas Oct. 1, the last day of a three-day event, when a gunman opened fire from a nearby hotel room with high-powered weapons. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 were injured.
That’s led to a vigorous debate about firearms and gun-control laws, particularly country music’s responsibility in it. The National Rifle Association has close ties with the country music industry through N.R.A. Country, which says on its website that it’s “powered by pride, love of country, respect for the military and our responsibility to protect our great American lifestyle.”
Rosanne Cash, a musician, gun control activist and daughter of the late Johnny Cash, penned a New York Times essay this week headlined, “Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A.”
Daniels hadn’t read Cash’s essay, but said, “Things happen, you know.”
“I’m not much of a ‘What if?’ guy,” he said. “‘What if a piece of an airplane falls on you out of the sky?’ Well, that’s probably not gonna happen. Same way with these things. You can’t worry about it.”
Daniels said he agrees with the National Rifle Association’s support of regulations on “bump stock” devices that convert semi-automatic weapons to automatic weapons. But he doesn’t agree with wider calls for stricter gun laws.
“I just wish people who actually knew something about guns would say something,” Daniels said. “Some of the politicians talking about gun control don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. A lot of things they call assault rifles are just deer rifles with a bigger magazine.
“If you want to see what the gun control that politicians talk about would do, look at Chicago,” Daniels added. “Chicago has some of the strictest laws in the country and it’s a damn slaughterhouse. That’s what would happen in America if the kind of gun-control laws (Sen.) Chuck Schumer and (Rep.) Nancy Pelosi want were to take place. You would leave people defenseless.”
Daniels will headline an Oct. 21 show at Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre.