Rosanne Cash Lashes Out at NRA After Las Vegas Mass Shooting
Rosanne Cash turned to the editorial pages of the New York Times to take the NRA to task in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday (Oct. 10), calling on fellow country musicians to stand up to the gun rights organization.
59 people died and more than 500 were wounded when a gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas during a headlining performance by Jason Aldean. It is the largest mass shooting event in U.S. history.
In an op-ed titled Rosanne Cash: Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A., Cash says she has often faced threats over the course of the 20 years she has spoken out on gun control. After last year's Concert Across America to End Gun Violence with Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Marc Cohn and the Harlem Gospel Choir, she says, "we got death threats. People wanted to kill us because we wanted to end gun violence. That’s where we are: America, 2017."
Cash points out that the National Rifle Association has been specifically courting the support of country music performers and fans for decades now, most notably through an outreach program called NRA Country, which features the tagline “Celebrate the Lifestyle.”
"That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism," Cash writes.
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The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter calls out a "shadow government" in which the people helping to write gun laws are the same people profiting from sales of guns, pointing out, "The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way."
"The laws we have in place to prevent the procurement of military-style weapons by mentally ill citizens are laughable by the standards of any civilized society," Cash continues. "But even those pathetic restrictions would be eased if the N.R.A. had its way."
She points to a vote that was scheduled to take place in the House of Representatives this week on a measure designed to loosen restrictions on silencers and armor-piercing bullets as just one piece of legislation that the NRA supports, writing, "If the proposed law had passed before the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, and the rifles in the assailant’s hotel room had been fitted with silencers, one could safely assume that the death toll would be much, much higher ... None of that matters to the N.R.A."
Cash calls on country and American roots artists to start speaking out against the NRA.
"It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly. The laws the N.R.A. would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy," she states. "The stakes are too high to not disavow collusion with the N.R.A. Pull apart the threads of patriotism and lax gun laws that it has so subtly and maliciously intertwined. They are not the same."
She says from personal experience that artists who do speak up will be bullied by the NRA and its advocates. "That’s where their power lies — in the silence of rational voices and in the apathy of those who can speak truth to power," Cash states, saying that those who make a living in the "tower of song" must speak out anyway.
"Patriotism and a belief in strong gun control are not antithetical. We need common-sense gun laws, and I hope my fellow occupants of the tower of song will join me in saying so," she concludes. "In unity, we can drown out the bullies."
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