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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Sturgill Simpson Busk For the ACLU Outside the CMA Awards

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The Country Music Awards was held on November 8 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Prior to the award ceremony, the Country Music Association (CMA) sent out guidelines on media coverage. The press was told not to focus on “the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations, or topics of the like” in their coverage.

Country singer Sturgill Simpson wasn’t nominated this year, but he was at the event – outside Bridgestone Arena. Why? He had a mission that night– to stage an event in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Next to his guitar case was a sign that read: “‘Struggling’ country singer … anything helps. (All donations go to the ACLU) God Bless America.”

Simpson’s “performance” was streamed on Facebook Live, and taped by a local news crew and a few loyal fans. At one point, he was clear about his position on gun control. “Nobody needs a machine gun, and that’s coming from a guy who owns quite a few guns,” he said.

Traditionally in the past, country artists have been fearful of speaking out on such topics, particularly because their fan base leans conservative. The genre also has close ties to the National Rifle Association, which partners with some Nashville singers. Apparently, Simpson does not believe that sensible gun control should be a political issue.

For most people, the political dividing line falls at the precise meaning and application of “the right…to keep and bear arms.” The Constitution allows for the opportunity to have guns, but there is disagreement as to who may own them, what kind they may own, and how many. Certainly, all of us can agree that safety is paramount.

Simpson made it clear that while he supports the free possession of guns for protection or hunting, he does not support the right to purchase or own assault rifles or other high-powered guns  Does anyone really need a machine gun or assault rifle to keep themselves safe?  Sensible gun control can protect 2ndAmendment rights while preserving our safety at a movie, mall, or concert.

One political target of those who supports unlimited access to dangerous weapons is the ACLU. This is an organization whose mission is to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” How can any American be opposed to that mission? One such “individual right” is the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  The ACLU does not seek to selectively protect constitutional rights; its mission and actions have always been to advocate for all of our constitutional protections including the 2nd Amendment. However, sensible gun ownership and /or 2nd Amendment rights are not abrogated by background checks, assault weapon or bump stock limitations, At long last, can’t we find common ground for the safety and protection for all of our citizens? Gun ownership and common sense do not need to be mutually exclusive, do they?

Mark M. Bello is an author, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. He is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.