Mere hours before a gunman walked into an El Paso, Texas, Walmart earlier this month and killed 22 people with an assault rifle, media powerhouse Bobby Bones coincidentally found himself sitting in a Chicago dressing room contemplating life, love and gun control.
“I grew up in the South, so I have a different relationship with guns than a lot of other people,” Bones, 39, told PEOPLE as his new English bulldog puppy Stanley snored contentedly by his side. “A gun wasn’t always a weapon. A gun was a tool, especially for me because I had to go shoot squirrels to have dinner as a kid. People hear that and think, ‘Oh he’s a Republican. He must be a gun guy.’ ”
But not so fast.
“I believe that there should be stricter background checks and I believe that gun shows should not exist in the way they do now. I believe that if you are going to have a strong gun, you should have a bigger license, kind of like driving a car compared to driving a mac truck,” he explains.
Indeed, there are many issues that Bones falls on both sides of. And it’s this trait that he says has him being recruited by both Democrats and Republicans alike going into the 2020 election season.
“Getting older doesn’t scare me but politics does, in a good way,” says Bones, who recently announced that he would be returning to the new season of American Idol as an in-house mentor. “I am so moderate and there are just so many issues that I fall on both sides of. I mean, when you look at social issues like gay rights, I’m like, ‘Of course! What are we thinking?’ So both sides are oddly and covertly pitching me right now and I’m like, ‘What world is this?’ So this is why I think I’ll do it.”
And while Bones remains fairly mysterious as to just what ‘it’ might entail down the road, there is no doubt that the award-winning radio host has truly been bitten by the politics bug as of late. “I feel like most politicians come from a place of privilege where they can simply become politicians because they have the means to quit their job and go for it,” explains Bones, who is currently touring with his musical comedy band Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots.
“I didn’t come from privilege. I came from a welfare grandma and a food stamp mom and I suffered through the addiction of my mom and my dad left when I was 5 or 6 years old. I’ve seen that and I have been the voice of my people and those people that have struggled. I’ve gone through a struggle, and I feel like if I’m not there to speak for them, who will?”
So how close could Bones be to an actual political run?
“If someone said they would fund my campaign, in a minute that’s what I would do,” the Season 27 Dancing with the Stars champion says emphatically. “That’s the lane I would drive down but I’ve seen the landscape change too. Like, in my lifetime, I have seen the meaning of Democrat and Republican change a little bit and who knows, in four years, where it’s going to sit.”
He takes a long deep breath as Stanley wakes up from his deep sleep.
“It would have to be three or four years before I would consider it,” he says, “but to say that I’m not having conversations right now, like serious ones, that would be false.”
Indeed, for Bones, his relatable nature has, in fact, caused him to have a swelling legion of loyal fans, fans that just might serve him and his political aspirations incredibly well in the coming years.
“I’m so grateful for the hardships I have been through,” he concludes. “I used to like, ‘Ugh this sucks. Why me?’ But now, I think it’s the greatest gift that I went through the struggle because so many people are going through the struggle right now. I don’t sympathize as much as I emphasize with them. I know what that is. I got you.”