A country musician who narrowly survived the massacre in Las Vegas has completely renounced his formerly fierce advocacy of gun laws protected in the 2nd Amendment in favor of “gun control, RIGHT NOW,” following the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
In a rare gun control pivot, Caleb Keeter, a self-proclaimed “proponent of the [second] amendment” his whole life, has reconsidered his political principles after being caught in the epicenter of the mass shooting where at least 59 people were killed and over 527 injured. Tragedy struck when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and sprayed a storm of bullets into a crowd of roughly 30,000 country music fans at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Keeter is the lead guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band that had performed at the Route 91 festival a few hours before the massacre occurred. According to Keeter, he, along with their “band & crew were on the concert grounds and saw people get shot,” but were safe nevertheless.
The guitarist clarified the events in a Facebook post where he added, “Some of my crew members were hit with shrapnel, but not injured. We are deeply disturbed by this horrific act of violence and send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. It was a long awful night, but we are blessed to be alive and healthy. Hug your loved ones tight.”
Later, after recovering from the intense fear he felt during the attack, Keeter used his Twitter account to post a lengthier statement that was more personal to him and his lifelong support of the pro-gun lobbyists.
“I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with [Concealed Handgun Licenses], and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless.”
According to Keeter, even though they were legally in possession of firearms, they weren’t able to use them for fear of the Las Vegas police potentially mistaking them for members of the massacre. In the meantime, Keeter wrote, “a small group (or one man) laid waste to a city with dedicated, fearless police officers desperately trying to help, because of access to an insane amount of firepower.”
The country musician goes on to say that he had to write “goodbye” notes to his family and “love of my life” because he was convinced he was going to die. “Enough is enough,” Keeter added. He also reported that the rounds used by Stephen Paddock were so powerful that members of his crew were hit by shrapnel from bullets that were hitting victims in “close proximity” to where they were.
Despite admitting that he “stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it,” Keeter has drastically changed his tune in the gun control debate.
“We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”
According to a report in the Washington Post, country music artists find it difficult to speak out against gun culture, especially considering the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) close ties with the country music industry. As a result, country artists are hesitant to bring political rhetoric into their music to avoid potential boycotts that could negatively impact their careers.
For those who are unfamiliar with the NRA’s close associations with country music, a look at the website called NRA Country reveals an extension of the association that is directly embedded in country music. Many of the industry’s most well-known musicians are openly represented on the website, which aims to strengthen the “softer side” of the gun lobbying efforts in partnership with the country music industry.
At the top of the website, visitors are encouraged to “celebrate the lifestyle,” with the faces of artists such as Lee Brice, Craig Campbell, Luke Combs, Easton Corbin, Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH, Justin Moore, Jon Pardi, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice, Granger Smith, Sunny Sweeney, Aaron Watson, Gretchen Wilson, and more are prominently featured.
The public response to Caleb Keeter’s confession has been mixed, with some fans saying that his renouncement is too late, while others believe he is overreacting.
Meanwhile, Mr. Keeter took the criticism in stride and responded to his fans in a conciliatory and diplomatic tone, with an acknowledgment that they are “all absolutely correct.”
[Featured Image by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images]