Jason Aldean recently opened up about the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting that took 59 lives and injured hundreds more. The country superstar was performing on stage when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from a nearby hotel.
Until this point, Aldean largely avoided talking specifically about guns. A gun owner himself, Aldean also has an endorsement deal with Field & Stream, a hunting and fishing store. Dick's Sporting Goods owns Field & Stream, and the company recently changed its policy to restrict gun sales.
"It's a no-win situation," Aldean says about wading into the gun debate in an interview with the Associated Press. "I think no matter what you say, whether you're for gun control or not, I mean, you're setting yourself up to be crucified in the public eye or in the media."
But Aldean also knows how easy it is to get a firearm in the United States, and that bugs him as a gun owner himself. "It's too easy to get guns, first and foremost," Aldean says. "When you can walk in somewhere and you can get one in 5 minutes, do a background check that takes 5 minutes, like how in-depth is that background check? Those are the issues I have. It's not necessarily the guns themselves or that I don't think people should have guns. I have a lot of them."
Aldean also says he understands where the Parkland students are coming from. "Unless anybody has witnessed anything like that or been a part of it, it's really hard for people to really understand where you're coming from on that stuff," Aldean notes. "It's like the kids from the school in Florida, that shooting. I get it, man. I understand how they are feeling."
The conversation arose while Aldean spoke about returning to visit Las Vegas victims in the hospital. He called it the hardest thing he'd ever done and repeatedly broke down into tears while visiting victims.
Aldean and his band were fortunate to escape injury during the mass shooting. Bullets struck onstage equipment, including fragments in the bass guitar, as well as their tour busses. Since the shooting, many country stars distanced themselves from organizations like the National Rifle Association.
Jason Aldean releases his tenth album Rearview Town on Friday.