NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When singer Meghan Linsey first started her country duo Steel Magnolia, a partnership with the National Rifle Association was suggested as a way to grow their audience.

The proposal, which she refused, was a commonplace example of how intertwined gun ownership is with country music.

The mass shooting in Las Vegas has emboldened some country musicians to call for gun control, even as many others declined to weigh in. Plenty of artists avoid the issue because there’s a real risk of backlash as gun lobbyists have bolstered a connection between the patriotic themes found in country music to gun ownership in recent years.

“I just feel like you’re so censored as a country artist,” said Linsey, an independent musician who took a knee after singing the national anthem at an NFL game. “I feel like the labels like to keep you that way.”

She added: “People worry about being Dixie Chick-ed.”

The Dixie Chicks were boycotted after singer Natalie Maines criticized then-President George W. Bush on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003.

The National Rifle Association has further strengthened the relationship between guns and country music with its lifestyle and music brand called NRA Country. NRA Country has sought to tie the music to gun-linked activities like hunting or outdoor sports, but without mention of political issues.

Since 2010, the NRA Country brand has been placed on country music tours an album called “This Is NRA Country,” a music video and more. It features performers such as Hank Williams Jr. and Trace Adkins.

Country duo Big & Rich, who were at the festival, said it wasn’t the weapons at fault.

“I think if a man has ill will in his heart, then there’s weapons everywhere,” Big Kenny said. “I mean he can … make a bomb, put it in his shoe. ”

The shooting changed the mind of Caleb Keeter, who was among those at the festival during the attack. He tweeted that he had been a lifelong Second Amendment supporter: “I cannot express how wrong I was.”

Many artists expressed grief over the killings without wading into politics. Alongside her husband Vince Gill, Amy Grant led a prayer at a vigil in Nashville.

Rosanne Cash, a gun control advocate, called on the country music community to do more in an op-ed in the New York Times.

“It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly,” Cash wrote. “The laws the N.R.A. would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy.”

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.