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Ted Nugent sings praises of gun ownership

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    Ted Nugent explains his love of guns

Ted Nugent explains his love of guns 04:00

Story highlights

  • 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

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 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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."

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    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."

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      Gun control debate

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • An undated photo of murder suspect Elliot Rodger is seen at a press conference by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff in Goleta, California May 24, 2014. Rodger, 22, went on a rampage in Isla Vista near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus, stabbed three people to death at his apartment before shooting to death three more in a terrorizing crime spree through the neighborhood. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

      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.
    • Melvin Speight uses a camera scope run down a barrel to check the rifleing inside. Speight has been with Colt for 7 years.

      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.
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    •  	US President Barack Obama is accompanied by former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L), vice president Joe Biden (R) and family members of Newtown school shooting victims as he speaks on gun control at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2013. Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called a 'minority' in the US Senate for blocking legislation that would have expanded background checks on those seeking to buy guns. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      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.
    • Jessica Ghawi

      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.
    • Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.