Johnny Cash’s daughter, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, is one of the few artists who have had a successful country music career while also speaking out for gun control. In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas during, Rosanne is now asking other country artists to make a brave stand against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other powerful gun lobbies.
In an editorial published Oct. 3 in “The New York Times,” Rosanne writes, “For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in ‘NRA Country,’ which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, if not economic, thrall of the NRA, with the pernicious tag line ‘Celebrate the Lifestyle.’
“That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive,” she continues. “There is no other way to say this: The NRA funds domestic terrorism.”
Rosanne goes on to tackle the gun legislation currently in the House of Representatives that would make it easier for people to buy gun silencers and armor-piercing bullets. She says it’s easy to learn how the NRA is funneling money to get that vote to turn out in favor of looser gun laws. Rosanne points out that a silencer would have left the people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in even more danger, since they wouldn’t have heard the gunshots coming at them.
“None of that matters to the NRA,” Rosanne says.
She also asks country artists to think about the steps the NRA has taken to make people believe love of country is the same thing as supporting the organization’s outlook on gun control.
Rosanne writes, “Pull apart the threads of patriotism and lax gun laws that it has so subtly and maliciously intertwined. They are not the same.”
If anyone knows the price artists will pay for speaking out, it’s Rosanne Cash. She regularly gets threatened for speaking her mind on this issue and performing at concerts to end gun violence.
“Every time I speak out on the need for stricter gun laws, I get a new profusion of threats,” she says. “There’s always plenty of the garden-variety, ‘Your dad would be ashamed of you’ sexist nonsense, along with the much more menacing threats to my family and personal safety.”
Rosanne encourages artists to stand up to the bullying they’ll go through for speaking out against gun violence.
She explains, “Some people may burn your records or ask for refunds for tickets to your concerts. Whatever. Find the strength of moral conviction, even if it comes with a price tag, which it will. Don’t let them bully you into silence. That’s where their power lies — in the silence of rational voices and in the apathy of those who can speak truth to power.”
According to Rosanne, the time for country artists to lead this discussion is right now. She encourages everyone not to listen to the calls for silence on the issue in the immediate wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Rosanne writes, “The NRA will stick to its post-shooting playbook. It will say that we shouldn’t ‘politicize’ the Las Vegas carnage by talking about gun control at this time, and that this isn’t about guns, it’s about people, and that even more of us should be armed to protect ourselves. Enough.”