REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin sparks debate with Newtown shooting comments
REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin has survived indifferent critics, decades on the road and ever-fickle musical tastes, but his Facebook comments about the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut are keeping the fires burning with some fans.
Cronin began his comments Sunday night, explaining how he first heard of the tragedy, and then turned to more controversial comments. (If you're not on Facebook, you can read the same comments on the band's official website.)
"We need to demand that our government put into place reasonable, yet strict gun control laws," he wrote. "I believe more strongly that ever that automatic weapons are meant for soldiers and law enforcement professionals only. Nobody needs a machine gun to go deer hunting. The entire REO Speedwagon Family extends our sincere sympathy to the families and friends of the victims, as well as to the many surviving children who were traumatized by this tragic event. You are all in our bedtime prayers tonight, and for many nights to come. With love, kc."
That drew more than a thousand "likes" and more than 180 comments. Enough that Kevin went back online to clarify his remarks.
"Hi friends, okay, it was a "semi-automatic" weapon which caused the massive carnage, the senseless loss of the lives of innocent children, and the immeasurable heartbreak of parents whose families have been irreparably damaged this weekend in Connecticut...my fricking bad," he wrote. "Either way, anyone who needs a semi-automatic weapon to shoot a deer is not much of a hunter. Ted Nugent uses a bow and arrow, which at least gives the animal a chance...which is more than the animal in Connecticut gave those poor 6 and 7 year olds. If my stance on guns causes anyone to choose to stop liking REO music then so be it. That is a small price to pay for speaking the truth as I see it. Plus anyone who paid attention to what I actually said in my previous blog would have noticed that I spent most of my words encouraging parents to do everything they can to identify and deal with mental and emotional disorders in their children. I never stated that the weapon used in the Connecticut massacre was a 'machine gun.' I simply stated that automatic weapons were meant for use by soldiers and law enforcement professionals, and that nobody needed a machine gun to hunt for deer. With love again, kc"
This time, more than 1,000 comments were left. Give Kevin credit; he doesn't give up without a fight.
"My neighbor is licensed to own a gun and is a responsible gun owner," he added later. "He is my friend and I have no problem with him owning a gun. I just think gun laws need to be made more strict in an attempt to make it more difficult for mentally unstable individuals to obtain a firearm. Give me a break already."
And finally on Monday morning, this final thought:
"Good morning friends, wow, my comments last night caused quite a stir, which is exactly what I love about our country. In America we are all free to speak our minds. My opinion is nothing more than the opinion of one person, just as is each of yours. I accept each and every response to my comments. The fact that people agreed, disagreed, or just wish I would stick to music, is all good. It's America baby! That being said, I again want to express our sympathy to the families in Connecticut who must endure the the deepest sadness imaginable. kc"
I've always been an REO Speedwagon fan and a Kevin Cronin fan in particular. He gave Stuck in the 80s a great interview a few years ago and I rarely if ever miss a chance to see them perform live. And I couldn't be prouder of REO and Cronin today. Agree or disagree with his opinions, but it's time for America to have a real, frank and hopefully productive discussion on a LOT of issues, and gun control is one of them.