Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash performs at the Union Chapel on July 23, 2015 in London.

Robin Little/Redferns

Today (Oct. 3), The New York Times published an op-ed written by country singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, the eldest daughter of Johnny Cash, calling for country musicians to stand up to the NRA in the wake of the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

A lone gunman opened fire on thousands of attendees during Jason Aldean’s set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday night (Oct. 1). The Times has reported that 59 people have died, while over 520 were injured.

In the op-ed, Cash touches on the conservative associations with country music, pointing to how “the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans.”

However, beneath the friendly “public relations veneer” of campaigns like NRA Country, which claims to celebrate American values, respect for the military, and freedom, Cash counters that the “N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism.”

As a gun control activist for 20 years, she wrote that she’s been the recipient of death threats. She performed at the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence with artists including Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder and Marc Cohn. “People wanted to kill us because we wanted to end gun violence,” she wrote. “That’s where we are: America, 2017.”

Cash criticizes the role the NRA has played in American legislation, pointing out a bill headed to the floor of the House of Representatives that seeks to loosen regulations on purchases of gun silencers. “It’s not hard to learn about how millions of NRA dollars have spread throughout Congress to influence that vote,” she wrote. She argued that if that bill had been passed into law before the Las Vegas shooting, “one could safely assume that the death toll would be much, much higher.”

She then shifted her focus to country artists, calling on them to recognize that “Patriotism and a belief in strong gun control are not antithetical.” She acknowledges if country artists speak up about gun rights, they will lose some fans, who might burn their records or ask for ticket refunds. But she urges them to “find the strength of moral conviction, even if it comes with a price tag, which it will.”

This op-ed was published a day after Caleb Keeter, a guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band who performed at the Harvest Festival, renounced his past support for gun rights, tweeting, “We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.”