Reba McEntire leveraged ticket demand for her 1994 Read My Mind tour to help law enforcement agencies in select cities collect surrendered firearms, angering at least one businessperson back home in Oklahoma.
It's not unusual for cities and towns across the country to sometimes allow residents to anonymously turn in weapons or prescription pills, often in exchange for a gift card or some other perk. In this case, firearms other than starter pistols and BB guns were swapped for concert tickets which, if you can believe it, were worth less than $30 at the time.
Per Tulsa World, McEntire saw an opportunity to help curb gun violence after learning about a similar program sponsored by the Dallas Cowboys.
"She wants them off the streets," said McEntire's publicist at the time, Jenny Bouler, to Tulsa World. "If only one gun gets off the street that will be good, because maybe it'll be one less gun that won't show up in a classroom."
Things got off to a slow start for Tulsa's gun exchange program, with only six weapons collected on day one of a six-day attempt to give away 100 tickets for McEntire's Feb. 19 show at the Mabee Center. A wire story published by Saint George, Utah's Daily Spectrum reported that two women were first in line to trade their husbands' handguns in for tickets, with three more handguns and a rifle collected later that day.
The Daily Spectrum added that officers working the gun exchange site speculated that an act with a younger audience, like Guns N' Roses or Snoop Dogg, might've inspired a larger turnout.
A later story published by the Daily Oklahoman reported that 49 total weapons were collected in Tulsa— an impressive count compared to the 29 guns and one hand grenade surrendered for tickets in Baltimore.
Even the gun surrender program in Tulsa's first day outperformed the "shut up and sing" brigade's best efforts.
Tulsa Gun and Pawn owner Buck Dickinson launched a "Trade in Reba" campaign in protest, offering a 10 percent discount on firearms to anyone willing to surrender a McEntire CD or cassette tape.
"She hasn't thought the problem through," Dickson said, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times and other outlets. "We don't have a gun problem. We have a criminal problem."
An AP report on Dickinson's own trade-in offer says he received just one McEntire CD, with another customer failing to convince him to take a Twisted Sister album.
McEntire's 18th studio album, Read My Mind, arrived on MCA Records in April 1994. It featured three Top 5 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart: "Why Haven't I Heard From You," "Till You Love Me" and "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." The triple platinum album has since gotten a 25th anniversary edition vinyl release.
Read My Mind Track Listing
- "Everything That You Want" (Randy Sharp, Jack Wesley Routh)
- "Read My Mind" (Keith Thomas, Melissa Coleman, Todd Moore)
- "I Won't Stand In Line" (Sharp, Steve Diamond)
- "I Wish That I Could Tell You" (Tony Martin, Van Stephenson, Reese Wilson)
- "She Thinks His Name Was John" (Sandy Knox, Steve Rosen)
- "Why Haven't I Heard From You" (Knox, T.W. Hale)
- "And Still" (Liz Hengber, Tommy Lee James)
- "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (Mark D. Sanders, Kim Williams, Ed Hill)
- "I Wouldn't Wanna Be You" (Sharp, Jeff Silbar)
- "Till You Love Me" (Bob DiPiero, Gary Burr)