ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer has weighed in on the gun control debate, less than a month after a shooting at a Florida high school left 14 students and three teachers dead.
The attack in Parkland was the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 rampage that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Whenever there's a mass shooting, the ongoing debate over gun control comes back into the national spotlight. But amid all the arguing and finger-pointing that always accompanies a topic this controversial, nothing seems to break the legislative stalemate that exists on this issue.
In a brand new interview with "The Cassius Morris Show", Schaffer — who has previously described himself as "a constitutional conservative" — was asked for his thoughts on what should be done about gun violence in the country and particularly our schools.
"Here's the thing: I just don't trust that the population is being told the truth about almost anything," Schaffer said (hear audio below). "And, obviously, as tragic as that is, there's always a motivation.
"It's probably hard for people to understand outside the United States, but the American people… The whole point of having the Second Amendment is not to protect yourselves against a robber or to be able to go out and hunt," the ICED EARTH guitarist continued. "Those are just automatic, fucking common sense. When they founded the country, everybody was hunting for food. You didn't go into Walmart and buy packets of baloney; you went out and killed your food and you ate it. That's how it worked. So that was automatic, just basic survival. But the whole point of it is to protect themselves against an out-of-control government.
"That's the whole thing where it gets a little bit interesting," he added. "Do the powers that be really wanna disarm the American people and do they stage events and do horrific things in that mission? I think there's a certain element that would and probably have. So my whole feeling is, the knee-jerk reaction [from a lot of people] is, 'Everybody, turn in your guns.' And I'm, like, 'Nah. No. Fuck you! 'That's not gonna happen. Not with me, and not with millions of us. Because we understand the situation a little bit better than that. And this, to me, has nothing to do with left or right. This is just a constitutional… It's my right to defend myself as a human being. You take that right away, then I become a slave very quickly — possibly. And a lot of people just become so domesticated that they don't think that's a possibility, but, dude, it is. It wasn't that long ago that we had some major tyrants running the world. I've been studying history my whole life and I'm not one of those people who say, 'Oh, that could never happen here.' 'Cause everybody has said that before where it's happened."
Schaffer also spoke about other potential ways to address the gun violence, such as advocating arming school officials and teachers as a protective and preventive measure against school shootings.
"Here's one solution for that, and it's gonna sound extreme to a lot of people — it's to teach everybody the responsibility of firearms and make sure that they have them," Jon said. "And that sounds crazy, but that's actually the way that the United States was built, and largely big parts of the world. But it's just not discussed, man, and it's a big deal. Who's gonna go into a school where people are trained and armed and do that kind of stuff? Or anywhere, for that matter? If you've got people that they understand their constitutional rights and they understand the responsibilities of firearms and are trained in that, hey… The Swiss population is armed, and they don't have this kind of shit going on. It's all about perspective, man, and trying to unlock from the boob tube and getting brainwashed about certain things, because that's obviously what they do. It's obvious to me, anyway. I would prefer to learn from history instead of talking heads and politicians with an agenda."
Schaffer went on to say that for him and other American gun advocates, the right to gun ownership is, at its core, a right to defend oneself from the state — and from one's neighbors.
"People want to believe and trust that the people that represent them in the halls of power have their best interest at heart," Jon said. "But most of the times, they don't. That's all I'm saying: I don't trust 'em.
"I might consider turning over my guns if all the cops do it and the military and everybody," he said. "I might, but I even doubt that. [Laughs] I'm just a freedom dude, man. If you infringe on my right to speak and you take my ability to defend myself, then we're not talking about a free man anymore. And I realize we're on a very slippery slope and have been for a very, very long time, but that last step ain't gonna happen with me, and not with a lot of people I know."
Back in 2016, Schaffer said he didn't believe that Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, explaining that "three million illegal immigrants" voted in the most recent presidential election.
ICED EARTH is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, "Incorruptible", which was released last June via Century Media.
ICED EARTH kicked off the North American leg of the "Incorruptible" tour in late February. Support on the trek is coming from SANCTUARY and KILL RITUAL.