I am a life-long “lefty” politically, so my evolution concerning the NRA, has come as a revelation. I suppose I fell into viewing members of the NRA as stereotypes… even though my brother, Rick, was an ardent member and so were most of the people I grew up with in New Mexico. It seemed as if there was a knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion that registration, or background checks or any other intrusion to their 2nd Amendment “rights” was not to be tolerated. To me… if you have to prove you are capable of driving a car, or show you’re conversant with the laws and safe driving habits, why you shouldn’t go through the same process with gun ownership. Sadly, I viewed the membership as a monolithic whole, rather than folks as diverse as any other segment of our population.
A couple of years ago, I was offered a gig… playing a concert for the NRA at their big Labor Day Weekend retreat on the thousands of acres just outside of Raton, NM. I took the job with no small amount of trepidation…. but it was in my native state… was a good paying gig… and I was touring the state anyway. When we arrived, we had to “permitted” into the vast compound by the guard at the gate. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was armed and fully loaded. We were shown to the concert venue… a low quonset hut, about a hundred feet wide, but was a couple of football fields long. Enough room for two picnic tables across, but then God knows how many rows deep. It was so far to the back that they had to put extra speakers halfway down the room. By the way, it was right next to the shooting range and the pop, pop, boom of gunfire echoed all around us during sound check. Between the stage and the audience there was a space of about 50 feet… for the gun displays and other NRA materials.
It felt like there was a moat between us and the audience… not exactly the ideal situation for my show where I try for as much intimacy as possible.
Before the show, the lady who booked us, gave me a briefing. Apparently, the year before, they had booked a country star (who happened also to be from New Mexico), and when I heard who it was, I was even more nervous about my show. He was a BIG star, and apparently his show had not gone very well. She warned us to.. 1. only play one set… 2. not longer than 35 or 40 minutes… 3. don’t be surprised if the audience starts leaving before the show is over.. 4. do not to expect an encore… 5. don’t expect
to sell CDs.
To make a long story, short… we played two hours… several encores… sold lots of CDs and they even came up to the stage to visit after the show. The lady hired us on the spot, to play the show the following year. Rad… one of my players, had an epiphany… he said…”Ronny, you could run for president, as a REPUBLICAN”!!!
Here’s what I discovered about those folks… and also about myself. We’re all grandparents, or brothers and sisters and parents. We all want what’s best for our country and for our fellow citizens. The vast majority of those folks, as opposed to Wayne Lapierre and the gun manufacturers, know our 2nd Amendment rights are not threatened by background checks, or by limiting the number of bullets you can have in an ammo clip or by restricting assault weapons…. they get it!!! That’s not to say, there aren’t crazies in the NRA… there are. But the majority of the folks I spoke with are decent, law abiding, reasonable people.
Years ago, I recorded a song, written by my son John. We recorded it in 2000… wow, almost 20 years ago. John’s political views are pretty much the same as mine. He wrote the song from the point of view of a vociferous NRA proponent whose unyielding view is that any law on guns is an affront to his rights. What I find interesting about this song is that… some people recognize the satire, while others see the song as the righteous truth!!! It is one of the few songs we play where people on either end of the political spectrum nod their head in agreement.
It’s on my Acoustic Eclectricity Album if you’d like to hear it.
- Judgement Day Ronny Cox 5:12