Why Dolly Parton ‘Never Traveled Without’ a Gun: The Time She Pulled it on a Man in New York

by Matthew Wilson

Dolly Parton has the right to bear arms. The country singer never travels without her .38 pistol. Once she even had to hold a man at gunpoint.

“I never traveled without a gun, still don’t,” Parton told Playboy in 1978. She said she felt safer. “I always carry a gun, I have a permit for it in Nashville, I just carry it for protection. I feel safer when I’ve got it, I just don’t like the idea of knowin’ I’m totally helpless.”

While visiting New York City with a friend, Parton got in a situation where she had to use it. This was back in her early career when the singer was 21-years-old. She and her friend wanted to have a little fun and dared each other to go to a pornographic theater on the shady side of town.

Neither enjoyed their experience and to make matters worse, they couldn’t get a cab. The two had to walk back. During their stroll, they realized several men had mistaken them for prostitutes. The men began to harass the two women.

“At that time, we didn’t know that prostitutes ran in pairs in New York City for protection. All of a sudden, these men started approachin’ us on the street. They thought we were up for sale,” Parton recalled “I would look like a streetwalker if you didn’t know this was an image. I’m sure we looked just like what they thought we were.” 

Dolly Parton Pulled a Gun on One of the Men

But one of the men wouldn’t take no for an answer. He got aggressive toward the country singer and her friend.

“I was so scared,” she said. “[T]he man was “pullin’ at me, he was tryin’ to handle me, just maul me, the whole works … he just thought if he bargained long enough that I’d give in. I was terrified, and I was mad too.” 

Parton pulled the .38 to defend both herself and her friend. She put a little fear of god into her harasser, but she didn’t plan on shooting him.

“I got my gun out of my pocketbook,” she said. She said she told the man, “‘If you put your hands on me one more time, I swear to God that I will shoot you.’ And I would have. I wouldn’t have shot him in the stomach or nothin’, I would have shot his feet off or shot at the ground.” 

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