Skip to main content

Ted Nugent sings praises of gun ownership

By Deborah Feyerick, CNN National Correspondent
updated 12:18 PM EST, Tue February 12, 2013
  • Rock star Ted Nugent invites CNN to his ranch to discuss Second Amendment rights
  • Leave gun owners alone, he says; go after the deranged and the repeat offenders
  • Nugent: "There is no gun violence," he says. "There is only criminal violence"
  • Guns, he says, are a "wonderful tool" for self-defense, competition and sport

Waco, Texas (CNN) -- A strong wind blows across the Spirit Wild Ranch.

A tornado is on its way and the American flag on the great lawn waves fiercely.

I am sitting in an enormous tree with Ted Nugent on one of the many hunting perches scattered around his Texas ranch.

This is Shemane's Grove, named after his wife of more than 20 years.

Oryx, deer, wild turkey and blackbuck antelope roam the 300-acre property. During hunting season they are all fair game.

Nugent: Leave good gun owners alone
Watch Piers fire a machine gun

Nugent sits up there for hours, he says, sometimes with a gun but often with a bow and arrow, waiting for the right moment when he can kill his prey with a single shot through the heart and lungs.

As we sit, he draws back an imaginary bow, speaking slowly and rhythmically, describing "the mystical flight of the arrow." Then he lets the imaginary arrow fly.

To him hunting is "Zen meditation in its definitive form, plus you get meat out of it," he says, laughing.

Nugent is spiritually connected to this land.

"Can you feel it? Can you feel it?" he asks excitedly.

At home with the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent

The platinum-selling rocker and National Rifle Association board member has invited us to his ranch to understand hunting, self-defense and the Second Amendment right to bear arms from the perspective of law-abiding gun-owners.

After setting up targets on a makeshift shooting range, he hands me a semi-automatic rifle, similar to the one used by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary to kill 26 people.

AR stands for ArmaLite rifle not assault rifle, Nugent explains, blaming the shooter, not the gun itself. "It's not the weapons. The weapons had nothing to do with it. These weapons are in every pickup in Texas. People have to get past the hardware," says Nugent, pointing out that a pheasant shotgun in the wrong hands can be as deadly.

Talk Back: Should Ted Nugent attend SOTU?

He can't seem to understand why people who disagree with him won't or can't see it that way.

He sticks to his message with a rocker's flair for hyperbole and provocation. "There is no gun violence," he says. "There is only criminal violence and they use an assortment of tools."

He rattles off statistics to support his argument: more people killed by drunken drivers, more people drowned.

When I point out that a deranged 20-year-old like the Sandy Hook shooter is unlikely to round up first-graders and drown them, he quiets down. "Understood," he nods.

Then without missing a beat, Nugent picks up the thread of his argument.

"The gun owners of America are causing no problem. Leave us alone. Let's go after the mentally deranged who are doing all these vicious crimes. Let's go after the recidivistic maggots that judges and prosecutors unleash into our neighborhoods."

Opinion: Obama, stop trying to appease unfair critics

As we drive around his ranch in an all-terrain vehicle, Nugent stops at various points to restock his feeders as a supplement for the animals that he says breed year-round.

I ask whether his opinion on guns would change if someone in his family were killed.

Not surprisingly, he says "No," calling guns a "wonderful tool" for self-defense, competition and sport.

Nugent is among the harshest critics of President Barack Obama ("not a hunting buddy"), Attorney General Eric Holder and any lawmaker who would restrict his or any citizen's access to guns.

He laughs off as naïve and ridiculous the notion that no one wants to take Americans' guns away.

He supports background checks for new guns and for licensed gun show dealers but rejects gun registration, gun licensing, private sale background checks and limiting access to any existing firearms, saying people who want to ban access to certain types of weapons know almost nothing about guns.

Though Nugent understands the nation's desire to stop another gun massacre, he says focusing on criminals and those with mental illnesses will have a bigger impact than trying to ban the more than 310 million guns or billions of high capacity magazines that currently exist in North America.

As for high capacity magazines, Nugent says limiting bullets is counter to the Second Amendment right to self-defense, "When I'm being assaulted at my home, I and I alone, by any consideration whatsoever, will determine how many bullets I need to protect my family."

Obama still backs new gun ban; top senator less certain

CNN Senior Producer Dana Garrett contributed to this report.

Watch Erin Burnett weekdays 7pm ET. For the latest from Erin Burnett click here.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones, the president and acting CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, discuss the lethal mix of domestic violence and guns.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Gun rights and gun control advocates largely agree there should be restrictions on mentally ill people obtaining firearms. The case of Myron Fletcher illustrates how difficult it is to put that into practice.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law Wednesday that has critics howling and proponents applauding.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
Six months after a gunman burst into a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Next time there's a mass shooting, don't jump to blame the National Rifle Association and lax gun laws. Look first at the shooter and the mental health services he did or didn't get, and the commitment laws in the state where the shooting took place.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it: "No loaded or unauthorized firearms beyond this point." Understandable for workers at a plant, but also a bit ironic, considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Much attention has been paid to the defeat in Congress of proposals to ban assault weapons and expand background checks for firearm purchases.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Sat June 29, 2013
Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives CNN viewers an inside and in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store. Here are five things to know about the debate.
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
The Supreme Court continued its recent hands-off approach on gun control, refusing to accept a challenge to New Jersey's restrictions on carrying weapons in public.
updated 11:02 AM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
updated 8:03 PM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and children write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
Hear from both sides of the gun debate as opinions clash.
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
It was a bit awkward the first time Kate Daggett asked the question.
updated 9:41 AM EDT, Wed April 10, 2013
Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
updated 3:35 PM EDT, Thu April 4, 2013
Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
Who should get them? Join the gun control debate and share your perspective on CNN iReport.
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Tue April 2, 2013
Before having children, she was a firm believer that guns were dangerous. Now this mother of three has a different perspective.
updated 6:54 PM EDT, Tue March 19, 2013
In the biggest fight over firearms since December's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-control advocates are poised to notch a victory in an unlikely place.
A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.
updated 1:22 PM EST, Fri February 1, 2013
At a town hall that brought all sides of the gun debate together, was there a consensus? Sort of.
updated 10:51 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
The federal background check system for gun buyers didn't stop a mentally ill man from buying a gun, which he used to kill his mother.
updated 7:37 PM EST, Thu January 31, 2013
In disputes over the future of gun laws, people espousing different positions often literally don't understand each other.