In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more during the Harvest Music Festival, country music—a genre that has been traditionally, even staunchly anti-gun control—has been forced to reckon with the devastating effects of gun violence on its community. So in order to make everyone feel protected during its November 8 ceremony, the Country Music Awards has undertaken an unprecedented security initiative, calling for a total ban on all guns-related questions.
“It’s an evening to honor the outstanding achievements in Country Music of the previous year and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking to press about this exciting time,” reads the new set of media guidelines posted by Rolling Stone. In light of that recent unease, the CMAs have expressly forbidden reporters from carrying any questions about the “Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations, or topics of the like,” even—especially—when concealed. It’s yet another reminder of the constant fear Americans must live with while attending any public event these days, where even an innocent night of enjoying music no longer feels safe from some lunatic bursting in, wielding a gun-control query.
Right now this feels especially true for country music, as the Las Vegas shooting seems to have suddenly awakened country artists and fans to all the terrifying vulnerabilities and grim realities they’d previously just ignored, deluding themselves that it couldn’t happen here. But as country and roots musicians like Caleb Keeter, Rosanne Cash, Jason Isbell, and Margo Price have all made clear through their recent statements, gun control discussion is something that can happen anytime and anywhere, so long as Americans still cling to their constitutional right to carry those dangerous opinions.
Indeed, some people believe anyone should be able to stock ideological armor-piercing questions that can be fired off automatically, any time there’s another mass shooting. With all these country artists potentially exposing themselves to harm by standing on red carpets and in confined press rooms, the only sensible precaution is to demand that everyone just leave their gun control agendas at home.
According to the new CMA rules, anyone caught brandishing a gun question will immediately have their credentials revoked and be escorted by security off the premises. Of course, this one measure won’t prevent all gun control discussions, therefore we probably shouldn’t even bother.
UPDATED: After learning that attempting to place restrictions on gun questions would upset some of the people that have them, the CMAs has now cravenly rescinded its ban. “CMA apologizes for the recently distributed restrictions in the CMA Awards media guidelines, which have since been lifted,” it said in a statement to CNN. “The sentiment was not to infringe and was created with the best of intentions to honor and celebrate Country Music.”
We certainly hope that after caving to the big gun question lobbies like this that the organizers can sleep at night. Any rhetorical blood spilled is now on their hands.