Not one to hold back on what he really thinks, television personality and avid hunter Michael Waddell tweeted his disappointment about comments Eric Church made in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. The interview was posted to the magazine’s website on July 25. Church, a country music singer and songwriter, said this of the National Rifle Association:
“’There are some things we can’t stop. Like the disgruntled kid who takes his dad’s shotgun and walks into a high school. But we could have stopped the guy in Vegas.'” As for why nothing’s been done? “‘I blame the lobbyists. And the biggest in the gun world is the NRA.'”
Church says he’s not a member of the NRA and never has been. “‘I’m a Second Amendment guy,'” he emphasizes again, “‘but I feel like they’ve been a bit of a roadblock. I don’t care who you are – you shouldn’t have that kind of power over elected officials. To me it’s cut-and-dried: The gun-show [loophole] would not exist if it weren’t for the NRA, so at this point in time, if I was an NRA member, I would think I had more of a problem than the solution. I would question myself real hard about what I wanted to be in the next three, four, five years.'”
Church knows he’ll get blowback from some fans for this. “‘I don’t care,'” he says. “‘Right’s right and wrong’s wrong. I don’t understand why we have to fear a group [like the NRA]. It’s asinine. Why can’t we come together and solve one part of this? Start with the bump stocks and the gun shows. Shut a couple of these down. I do think that will matter a little bit. I think it will save some lives.’”
Waddell, a household name among many U.S. hunters, clapped back two days after the article was posted. First the hunting celebrity tweeted, “Saw your interview @ericchurch WOW.”
Later, Waddell tweeted:
“Things learned today. 1.
@ericchurch proved to be pretending to be country. 2. @tmkansas is one heck of a protector of his home & family thanks to the 2nd amendment & a good bumper! Hope tomorrow I learn something other than what I should have known Already!”
The second thing Waddell learned, per his tweet, was in reference to a social post from Tom McMillan who stopped an intruder thanks to his 12 gauge shotgun.
For many hunters, Waddell hits all the right notes. He’s been an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and the NRA. He’s also not shy about using social media to weigh in on the hot-button political and social issues of the day. Earlier this year, he suggested those protesting the NRA Convention where adults living in their mom’s basement who could barely even make a Hot Pocket for themselves. For those unaware, the only prep a Hot Pocket requires is two minutes in the microwave.
Of Waddell’s most recent social posts concerning Church and his NRA comments, most hunters who chose to reply to the celebrity hunter’s tweets either praised Waddell or doubled down on his chiding of Church.
Jennifer Knecht of Virginia was one of only a few exceptions. She tweeted back, “1. I live in the middle of nowhere Virginia and have hunted my whole life (no game preserves either, lol) – I agree with Eric. Geography has nothing to do with it. 2. Next you’ll act surprised when you find out Willie Nelson is a hippie liberal.”
Others pushed back on Waddell for this same reason, challenging the claim that Church was “pretending to be country.” They found the comment to be nonsensical. Still, comments of this nature were in the minority. Adam Brister, who’s labels himself as a sportsman and conservationist in his Twitter bio, seemed resigned to this sort of news, “@ericchurch has been pretending to be country for a long time, brother.”
Andrew Matecki, a bowhunter who’s profile photo features a monster buck, weighed in about consquences when you choose to share an opinion, “Agreed!! He has an opinion, but like anyone else opens your mouth you better think twice on what you say!!”
Most of those commenting were intent on bashing Church, rather than defending the 2nd Amendment itself. This was not the case for Sage Diesel (God, let that be his real name please). Diesel offered an argument many in the gun community have made in defense of gun rights. Often, this point of view is considered one of the more persuasive:
“@ericchurch is ignorant in the original intent of the Bill of Rights. (Founding) Fathers wrote the 2A was there to protect us from our own government and if the (government) can own 21 AK’s and 10,000 rounds against us, original intent says we the people can own it too.”
(NOTE: In the Rolling Stone interview, Church said the Vegas shooter had “21 AKs and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.”)
Meanwhile celebrity Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, tweeted simply, “Thank you, Eric Church,” along with a retweet of the posted Rolling Stone interview. Last fall, Cash wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling on country musicians to stand up to the NRA.
Others commented, ranging from a Fox News show host to a comedian known as Mudflap, rebuking the singer.
Tomi Lahren of Fox News wrote, “I really like Eric Church and respect his opinion but this is pretty disappointing. Crazy people kill people. The NRA fights to preserve rights for law-abiding Americans who protect and defend themselves from crazy people.”
Comedian Mudflap McGrew tweeted, “Somebody just made a MASSIVE miscalculation of his fan base.”
Another user who goes by the username Surgeon911 tweeted, “Goodbye eric church. How about we take away your 1st amendment rights an you can’t sing anymore.”
Church’s comments were widely reported by news outlets including ABC News, Fox News, Esquire and the National Review, most of which offered only excerpts of the inflammatory comments directly related to the NRA.
Here are additional excepts including comments made in the Rolling Stone interview concerning hunting, gun rights and the 2nd Amendment:
“Church rumbles over a log, and a spooked deer flees through the forest. He says some of his friends come out here to shoot trophy bucks, but he doesn’t hunt much anymore. ‘There’s something different when you own the land,’ he says. ‘I see these guys all the time. It doesn’t seem too sporting to me. I’d rather just look at ’em.'”
On the Vegas shooting:
“‘It’s selfish of me, he says. ‘But my first thought was, ‘I hope it’s not our fans.’ We had a lot of fans there. We even promoted online travel options to make it easier for people to come. I felt like the bait: People come to see you play, then all of a sudden they die? That is not an emotion that I was prepared to deal with. It wrecked me in a lot of ways.’”
On gun rights:
“Church isn’t a gun nut, but he does own about half a dozen: rifles, shotguns, pistols – no AR-15s, though. I ask if Vegas changed his feelings about guns. ‘A little,’ he says. He takes another sip of whiskey. ‘I’m a Second Amendment guy,’ he says. ‘That’s in the Constitution, it’s people’s right, and I don’t believe it’s negotiable. But nobody should have that many guns and that much ammunition and we don’t know about it. Nobody should have 21 AKs and 10,000 rounds of ammunition and we don’t know who they are. Something’s gotta be done so that a person can’t have an armory and pin down a Las Vegas SWAT team for six minutes.’”
You can read the entire Rolling Stone interview, including Eric Church’s comments about Bernie Sanders and his recent health scare, by going here.
Featured photo: Townsquare Media, via Wikipedia