Armed with vulgar language and pride for the Second Amendment, conservative rocker Ted Nugent told Texas Republicans to “grow some” and defend their rights to bear firearms with confrontational politics and a call to ban gun-free zones.
Nugent spoke to a crowd of McLennan County Republican Club members Thursday, the day after at least 2,000 students McLennan County student joined a nationwide school walkout to demand more gun control legislation. The walkout was organized for the one-month anniversary of school shooting by a former student in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.
Nugent, a National Rifle Association board member, spoke about “Protecting our gun liberties in crazy politically correct times” at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, the Republican Club’s monthly meeting place.
Outside the meeting, parents, grandparents, former teachers and local activists protested Nugent’s platform.
“I’ve been clean and sober for 70 years, and I’ve been deer hunting for 70 years … and I haven’t missed a season yet,” Nugent said. “Hence the cleansing of my soul, my consciousness, my spirit and my American s---kicker. That’s the most important word I can use here today. Embrace it. We have a president in the White House, because unlike so many wimps in the Republican Party, guys like (senate candidate) Mitt Romney who brought a doily to a grenade fight and Sen. John McCain, that did not represent the s---kickers, my Republican friends, if you want to win, you have got to galvanize that vote.”
Club President Wesley Lloyd said the timing of Nugent as a keynote speaker was coincidental, because the club holds meetings the third Thursday of each month, often featuring guest speakers. The club has hosted Nugent before, Lloyd said.
Lloyd opened the meeting by joking about how his daughter did not join the walkout and texted him an image of sheep funneling into a doorway instead. He said Nugent gives substantive talking points out in a short amount of time.
“I don’t think he’s extreme,” Lloyd said. “I think he’s consistent with what the founding fathers thought and believed when they wrote the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence that our country is founded on.”
Nugent, who spoke for about 20 minutes, told the group that failing to rally the votes of hard-working ranchers, farmers, welders and others has been the failure of the GOP in the past, and that the conservative stronghold of Texas is not immune.
“I could parachute down on planet Earth at the year one and make it with a sharp stick and go, ‘I bet I have the right to keep and bear arms.’ My Republican friends raise hell about that basic, undeniable, God-given, individual, constitutionally guaranteed right. Learn the terminology,” Nugent said. “I’m still waiting for a Republican leader to speak about weapons of war and assault weapons with any sense of knowledge.”
Nugent, who spent time with President Donald Trump a few months into Trump’s first year in office, urged Republicans to confront what he called Democratic rhetoric repeated in the media, that the “tool in the hands of a good guy to stop a murderer is the same as the murderer’s gun.”
He said gun-free zones are the common element of mass shootings.
“Make it the battle cry of the GOP, that gun-free zones are the self-inflicted, maniacal curse that is a red carpet and welcome mat for evil to do as you d- — please because we are unarmed and helpless,” Nugent said. “We cannot resist. We’ve been taught not to resist. Two key points: Firepower and ballistics have nothing to mass slaughters. It always boils down to gun-free zones.”
The state of Texas already gives districts the authority to allow specific employees or board members to carry firearms in school, and more recently, the state has passed laws allowing concealed carry of firearms at public universities and community colleges.
More than 170 of the state’s 1,023 independent school districts allow an employee or board member to carry on campus, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. About 24 percent of districts use school resource officers, and another 15 percent rely on their own police department.
“As a conservative, I get disappointed because we don’t talk about all the options, mainly,” Lloyd said. “Everybody jumps to wanting to talk about gun control, and I think there is more we can talk about. If we’re talking about school safety, that’s a different issue than gun control. It may not necessarily equate to school safety. There are other things we can do, like letting licensed teachers carry or building a step up and getting an extra level of training for people in the school system.
“A lot of times, I think the other side or a certain group of people jumps to automatically excluding a bunch of options.”
And as a defender of the Second Amendment who thinks “BBQ is cool and self-defense is perfect,” Nugent said he welcomes the protesters, including those outside.
“We clearly have a crisis in the United States of mass shootings,” said Alan Northcutt, one of the protest organizers. “No country on the Earth experiences this rate of mass shootings, and there is a big movement among students and others now to get reasonable gun control legislation to try to deter and decrease these horrible instances of killings.”
The protesters held signs stating everything from, “Your ‘toys’ kill children” to “License guns like we do cars. You can still drive.” They said no respectable hunter needs an assault rifle and called the club’s meeting with Nugent disrespectful to the victims of mass shootings.
“I’m out here because we’ve had a great show of people standing up for what’s right and not being afraid to call out our congressmen on NRA politics,” said local grandmother Carolyn Rodabough. “It’s time for the rest of us to do that. It’s time for people to do it, and the young people are showing up a good example.”
McLennan County schools have faced five threats since the beginning of last month. Nationwide, there have been eight mass shootings with four or more fatalities at elementary and secondary schools since 1996, according to a recent study from Northeastern University.