Tim McGraw Facing Backlash Over Sandy Hook Benefit Concert

Nino Munoz/Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw’s facing some online backlash for his scheduled performance in Hartford, CT this July — a performance that benefits Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, whose stated purpose is to help protect children from gun violence.

McGraw on Monday announced the show, dubbed the Concert for Sandy Hook Promise, part of his ongoing Shotgun Rider tour with supporting acts Billy Currington and Chase Bryant.  But because the show’s proceeds go to what some are calling a pro-gun control cause, the criticism from some parties has been harsh —  particularly from gun rights supporters, including the National Rifle Association, which tweeted, “Country musicians @TheTimMcGraw and @billycurrington to promote and play at gun control fundraiser.”

That NRA tweet, reported by the Washington Post, has since been deleted, but others from critical parties haven’t been.  Many critical comments were posted to McGraw’s Facebook page, with some noting the alleged hypocrisy of McGraw’s Shotgun Rider tour name, given the Sandy Hook benefit, though the “shotgun” in that context refers to a vehicle’s front passenger seat.

McGraw responded in a statement to the Washington Post, declaring, “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.  Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering.”

The “personal connection” to which McGraw refers is his fiddle player, Dean Brown, a longtime friend of Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Even so, the fallout was apparently enough to cause Billy Currington to back out of the concert altogether.  He posted a note on his own Facebook page, declaring in part, “I’ve never been one to take on controversial issues — I’m a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization.”

TIME magazine on Thursday named McGraw one of its 100 most influential people.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.