LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 03: Actor Tom Arnold attends the 23rd Annual Time for Heroes Celebrity Picnic to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation at Wadsworth Theater on June 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Getty Images
On the issue of guns, actor Tom Arnold is fed up with both the far-left and far-right, believe it or not.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with TheBlaze, Arnold explained that the issue of gun violence is far more complex than many are willing to admit. He said simply "taking the guns" isn't going to fix the problem. At the same time, the veteran actor stands in support of President Barack Obama's proposal for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and universal background checks. Many gun owners are adamantly against banning semi-automatic rifles.
"I think there's a middle ground, in my opinion," he told TheBlaze. "I think it represents both sides badly if people are screaming and yelling -- some people saying, 'let's take away all guns' and the other side saying 'this is tyranny.'"
"No one is ever going to take away people's guns in America. Everyone has the right to defend themselves, obviously," he continued. "In my mind, the only way the government would take people's guns is if they keep threatening the government on the basis of 'tyranny.' It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You say enough times, 'the government is going to take my guns, I'll stand up to them, I'll shoot them,' and the government will take away your f**king guns. That's just the way it goes if you act crazy like that."
Arnold also addressed recent comments he made on ABC's "The View," during which he railed against people who own "automatic weapons." As TheBlaze pointed out in a previous report, fully automatic weapons in the U.S. have been essentially banned since the 1980s. He said he actually does know what an "automatic weapon" is and realized his error after reading TheBlaze's story.
"I actually meant semi-automatic," Arnold explained. "But I stand by what I said."
"I have fired semi-automatic weapons, I have fired automatic weapons, I've been to many gun ranges, obviously I've done it in movies," he said. "But in my opinion, having these things in public is unacceptable. And I don't care what people say about me for saying that."
Arnold said he realizes that many people will disagree with his opinion on semi-automatic rifles, but "that's OK."
A wall of semi-automatic rifles is seen at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits April 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
However, the average "sportsman, hunter or gun owner" is "horrified" when they see a so-called "assault rifle," according to Arnold.
"They don't want any part of it. They don't want their kids around that. They don't want their kids to be friends with people that have these," he said matter-of-factly.
He also jabbed at the National Rifle Association, saying the group's job is to "raise fear amongst rural people that all the guns are going to be taken away by the bad government so they can sell more guns."
"They do an excellent job of selling guns, but they aren't looking out for the best interests of the children in these homes and at schools. And that's just a fact," Arnold said. He also believes there should be more of an emphasis on gun safety in America.
Meanwhile, some on the far-left are just as uncompromising, he added. "Super liberal people are saying, 'don't eat meat and zero guns.' They do a disservice too, in my opinion."
The Entertainment Industry's Role in America's Culture of Violence
As an expectant father, Arnold said he has been thinking more about the world he wants his son to grow up in. And being in Hollywood, he said it is evident that graphic violence in movies, TV and video games can have an impact on America's youth.
"Hollywood definitely has a role," he said.
Actor Tom Arnold and his wife Ashley Groussman. Credit: Getty Images For Chrysalis
Recent events, like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Aurora, Colo., have caused many in Hollywood to think about the implications of violence in movies and on TV, Arnold explained. He pointed out that the movie "The Expendables 2" as well as some Quentin Tarantino films make violence look "cartoonish" as opposed to gory and graphic, which is more "acceptable" in some cases.
"I'm not sure where you draw the line," Arnold admitted, "but we need to look at everything."
And what about the media? The actor said all entertainers and talking heads should be held accountable for what they put out into the world. Arnold was particularly hard on radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who he says is doing gun owners no favors.
"Alex Jones is the worst thing to ever happen to the gun lobby," Arnold said, adding that spreading hate and boisterous conspiracies is not going to win an ideological argument.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh also made Arnold's naughty list. Limbaugh has made a career out of spreading "fear" and "hate" among the far-right, he noted.
Tom Arnold currently hosts CMT's hit series "My Big Redneck Vacation," which returns for a third season this Saturday. The series follows the Clampet family as they travel across the United States and learn new cultures and values, leaving their personal "redneck stamp" on each destination.
"These are all gun owners. These are the kind of folks I grew up with," he said, adding that guns are undeniably a part of the fabric of America. The show displays that in a positive way, he explained, without promoting violence.
Here's a sneak peak at season three of "My Big Redneck Vacation":