A pair of high-profile incidents last week involving gun-owners and Scott McCreery and Jamey Johnson (the latter was a dispute over the placement of a metal detector near Johnson’s tour bus) furthered age-old assumptions about country stars’ outlooks on the Second Amendment.
Many country artists seem to favor guns. However, there have been supporters of gun control over the years, which sullies the stereotype in some people’s minds. In other cases, a separate stereotype about not talking politics at the dinner table, or with the press, rings true. These stars, whether outspoken or private about their stance on guns, prove there’s more than one type of gun-owning country music celebrity.
Hank Williams Jr.
Bocephus is outspoken about a lot of things, namely his right to bear arms. From the career-defining “Country Boys Can Survive” to last year’s cover of Skynyrd’s “God and Guns,” Williams has never been subtle about this issue in song. In fact, Williams will almost assuredly talk guns if he’s near a microphone for any reason.
Country and Southern rock legend Charlie Daniels is cut from the same red, white and blue cloth as Williams. Both proud National Rifle Association (NRA) supporters don’t pass up an opportunity, in song or around the press, to champion what they might call a certain inalienable right.
When Hank Williams, Jr. performed at the NRA Annual Convention back in April, he was joined on stage by like-minded country singer Gretchen Wilson. Although Wilson lacks the platform she once enjoyed as Nashville’s mid-aughts outlaw, she remains active as both a performer and protester. She knows, and takes to heart, every word from every Charlie Daniels and Bocephus song.
To borrow a line from Ray Stevens, Brantley Gilbert’s boldest display of his 2nd Amendment support is as subtle as a chainsaw. The Georgia-born singer, songwriter and producer’s stance is literally detailed and permanent.
Like McCreery, the new kid on the country charts and commercial airwaves had his own run-in with airport security earlier this year. “Hurricane” Luke Combs‘ breakthrough year was almost sidetracked in April when a pistol was discovered in one of his bags at Nashville International Airport. He was en route to Las Vegas for the ACM Awards. No charges were ultimately filed against Combs, although his brand new gun was confiscated as evidence.
“Gunpowder and Lead” singer Miranda Lambert owns guns, including some she’s received as Christmas presents from a fan. Despite her personal beliefs, she abstains from gun control debates. In a recent Billboard interview, Lambert admitted to focusing more on entertaining fans in these politically polarizing times than standing on any soapbox.
The sort of polarization Lambert strives to avoid rested on the weary shoulders of Tim McGraw in the lead-up to his 2015 Sandy Hook Promise concert. McGraw’s heart grew heavy after learning that fiddle player Dean Brown’s friend lost a 7-year-old son during the massacre. Pro-gun advocates saw the show as a threat to their cause. The onslaught of negativity forced McGraw to clear the air with TV Guide. “As a gun owner, I support gun ownership,” he said. “I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety–most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”
Outspoken patriot Toby Keith may be the polarizing gun supporter in all of country music. Like McGraw, Keith is a gun-owner who due to unusual circumstances drew criticisms from the pro-gun crowd. The Woodridge, Va. location of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar shocked would-be patrons in 2013 with a sign banning guns on the premises. According to the sign, the rule followed insurance regulations. It’s unclear if Keith has any say in such decisions at the restaurants bearing his name. That didn’t stop some fans from blaming the restaurant’s namesake for the controversial rule.