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Tim McGraw defends Sandy Hook concert after drawing criticism from gun rights advocates

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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Earlier this week, Tim McGraw announced plans to make the Hartford, Conn. stop on his Shotgun Rider tour a Sandy Hook benefit concert. The event, called the Concert for Sandy Hook Promise, plans to donate all procedes to Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit which was founded after the December 2012 shooting of 20 first-grade children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. The group’s mission statement is to “protect children from gun violence.”

McGraw revealed the partnership on his website Monday: “Out of this tragedy, a group was formed that made a promise to honor the lives lost and turn it into a moment of transformation.” He continued, “Sandy Hook Promise teaches that we can do something to protect our children from gun violence. I want to be a part of that promise–as a father and as a friend.” 

Almost immediately, McGraw’s announcement drew backlash and accusations of hypocrisy from gun rights advocates—namely, the conservative blog Breitbart.com, which branded the concert a “gun control fundraiser.”

Chase Bryant and Billy Currington are the billed openers throughout McGraw’s 35-date tour—but on Thursday afternoon, Currington dropped out of the July 17 performance due to the media maelstrom. One day after tweeting “i didn’t sign up for shit, just hearing about it like you are,” according to Rolling Stone Country—the message has since been deleted—the “Hey Girl” singer posted a message on his Facebook page explaining that he wants to keep his career out of the line of political fire. Rather than performing, Currington plans to make a donation to a local organization, then rejoin the tour following the Hartford stop. 

I’ve never been one to take on controversial issues – I’m a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the…

Posted by Billy Currington on Thursday, April 16, 2015

But McGraw—a gun-owner and vocal supporter of the 2nd Ammendment—and Bryant haven’t wavered. Bryant has said nothing publically about the concert, aside from retweeting McGraw’s initial announcement of it.

McGraw, however, released a statement yesterday to The Washington Post: “Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far. As a gun owner, I support gun ownership. I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety—most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that,” he said.

He added, “Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain.” McGraw’s fiddle player is family friends with one of the children killed that day. “The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering,” the singer concluded.

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