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Tim McGraw Defends His Decision to Play Sandy Hook Benefit Concert

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Tim McGraw is defending his decision to play a concert in Connecticut this summer benefiting the Sandy Hook community after gun-rights advocates labeled him a hypocrite on social media and called the show a “gun control fundraiser.”

“Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far,” McGraw said in a statement to the Washington Post. “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.”

McGraw added: “Through a personal connection, I saw firsthand 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.”

McGraw was inspired to play a fundraiser for Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that seeks to protect children from gun violence, by his fiddle player, Dean Brown. A close friend of Brown’s, Mark Barden, lost his 7-year-old son Daniel on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 first-graders and six educators before turning the gun on himself.

At the time he announced the concert on April 13, McGraw said in a statement: “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.”

Despite McGraw’s plans to move ahead with the fundraiser, his opening act Billy Currington has dropped out of the show, writing the following message on Facebook:

“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. I appreciate people’s freedom and passion for whatever cause they want to support, however, I am choosing to step aside from this fundraiser and will focus instead on the rest of the tour dates as I look forward to being on the road with Tim and Chase and having a blast with all of the fans.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

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