Country Music Hall of Fame Gives NRA Firearms Auction The Boot

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee has dropped plans to host a National Rifle Association fundraising dinner and gun auction.

In response to questions from The Associated Press regarding the Country Music Hall of Fame's "no weapons allowed" policy, a spokesperson said the NRA event will no longer take place at the museum.

Originally scheduled for April 17, the fundraising dinner at the Hall of Fame was a planned part of the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, to be held in downtown Nashville. The $500 tickets for the event (or $5,000 for a reserved table for 10) were meant to support the political efforts of the NRA's lobbying division, the Institute for Legislative Action.

"This highly anticipated event attracts celebrities, industry executives and a host of Second Amenment supporters from around the country," the NRA said in its description for the dinner and auction, which has been relocated to a hotel. "This year's event will feature impressive one-of-a-kind items made and 100 percent donated just for the auction, including engraved firearms, suppressors, knives, fine art, hunts, optics and trips from around the globe."

Country artist Abbi Scott performs at the NRA 2015 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Loaded or unloaded weapons are not allowed in the Country Music Hall of Fame, either concealed or carried openly. The museum's director of communications confirmed to the AP "the organization will not be holding their event at the museum" after discussions between the museum and the NRA regarding plans to auction weapons at the event.

"The NRA was asked to change our firearms policy at our auction. We respectfully declined and made alternate arrangements at a venue with additional capacity," an NRA spokesperson told Newsweek. "We would like to thank the Country Music Hall of Fame for their consideration."

Newsweek has reached out to the Country Music Hall of Fame for additional information but no comment was given.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee has more than a million visitors annually. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Associated Press characterizes the cancellation as in part the result of country music artists turning against the gun rights organization, particularly in the wake of the 2017 mass murder at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, which featured country music artists Eric Church, Lee Brice, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen and Jason Aldean. Firing more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition from a hotel room window, shooter Jason Paddock killed 58 people and wounded 413 before shooting himself.

"They went from seeing the NRA as an opportunity in terms of marketing, publicity and tour support money to a big liability," country music historian and author of Nashville Sound: An Illustrated Timeline Don Cusic told the AP. "And they are going to avoid that. They aren't going to say it out loud, but they're gonna have a private meeting."

The NRA has recently weathered internal chaos, including ongoing allegations of financial misconduct, lavish spending, insider deals and misleading metrics masking from the investors the failure of the organization's streaming channel, NRATV.

As both a powerful lobbying organization and the face of the gun industry, the National Rifle Association is frequently the focus of public animus after mass shootings. In response to the 20 six and seven year old children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre cited violent video games and the Christian Bale movie American Psycho. This was followed by a proposal to deploy armed guards to every school in the country.

While the NRA once nurtured deep ties to the country music industry, artists like Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw have taken public stances in recent years, either for gun control legislation or specifically against the NRA.

The Cash family
Roseanne Cash, June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash Mike Theiler-Files/Reuters

"I encourage more artists in country and American roots music to end your silence. It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly. The laws the NRA would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy," country singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, wrote in a 2017 New York Times editorial, further describing the organization as a funder of "domestic terrorism" and denouncing NRA efforts to "nurture an alliance with country music artists and their fans."