Chely Wright ‘Ashamed of My Country’ After Texas Church Shooting
Chely Wright turned to Twitter to vent her anger and frustration after the mass shooting at a Texas church on Sunday (Nov. 5), writing that she's "ashamed of my country" over its inability to pass tighter gun laws.
26 people died on Sunday morning when 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley carried out a methodical shooting spree at First Baptist Church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The victims ranged in age from 17 months to 77 years old, and at least 12 of them were children. The killer was shot twice by a local resident who confronted him, according to CNN, but died from what's believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities say Kelley had been threatening his mother in law, who attended the church, prior to the shooting. He was court-martialed by the U.S. Air Force in 2012 after abusing his wife and his stepson so badly that he cracked the boy's skull, after which he was confined for a year and given a bad conduct discharge. Kelley should not have been able to pass the background check required for him to buy the semi-automatic rifle he used in his killing spree. The Air Force has acknowledged an error in reporting his record to civilian authorities, resulting in him being cleared despite the fact that he was legally ineligible to buy a gun.
Wright is frequently vocal about her political beliefs online, and she posted a series of tweets after the shooting, which is the worst church shooting in U.S. history. It comes just over a month after a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, killing at least 58 people and wounding more than 500 others in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
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Forward progress on gun control hasn't made it past the talking stage since Las Vegas, and Wright directed her frustration at lawmakers, replying to a tweet from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan offering prayers and suggesting that common sense gun laws should have been included. She also argued with a few users who commented on her tweets before returning to her main topic, writing, "A 17 month old baby. Murdered in a church in Texas. Nothing will change. For this reason — and many others — I’m ashamed of my country." She accompanied that post with a photo of the American flag upside down and backward.
Wright's comments come at a time when Las Vegas has dragged country music unwillingly into the national debate about gun control. Though many country artists have offered thoughts and prayers online, few have publicly shared their thoughts on a path forward. Rosanne Cash challenged her fellow country singers to defy the NRA's legislative agenda in a scathing op-ed for the New York Times, while Sheryl Crow turned to Twitter to shred people who say they are pro-life but do not support an assault weapons ban. Charlie Daniels and Aaron Lewis are two examples of artists who have expressed doubt that additional gun laws would impact the rate of gun deaths in America.
The issue is such a hot-button topic in country music right now that the CMA issued guidelines to journalists covering the CMA Awards red carpet on Wednesday (Nov. 8), warning them not to ask any questions about Las Vegas, gun control or political affiliations on the red carpet and threatening to revoke their credentials if they did. The organization rescinded those restrictions the following day after several country artists joined those who protested, including Cam and Maren Morris. Longtime CMA Awards co-host Brad Paisley made national headlines when he called the media guidelines "ridiculous and unfair" in a tweet.
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