After a week of controversy, Billy Currington is out as a performer at the July 17th benefit concert for Sandy Hook Promise being held by Tim McGraw at the Infinity Theater in Hartford, Connecticut. Currington confirmed the news to fans late Thursday (4-16) evening.
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.
The controversy over the event began after conservative news outlet Brietbart posted a story portraying non-profit Sandy Hook Promise as a gun control organization. This caused many 2nd Amendment advocates to attack the charity concert’s headliner, Tim McGraw, and well as Billy Currington, who said he had no idea about the concert being turned into a benefit. Currington had previously agreed to be the opening act on McGraw’s Shotgun Rider concert tour set to start in June.
Though Currington is out, Tim McGraw is doubling down on his commitment to the concert, telling The Washington Post earlier on Thursday,
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.
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.
Adding to the angst over the issue is the fact that it remains questionable whether Sandy Hook Promise should be considered a gun control organization. The non-profit said in a statement:
Sandy Hook Promise supports the 2nd Amendment and is not anti-gun. We recognize an individual’s right to bear arms and support millions of law-abiding citizens in the United States who own firearms.
Our primary focus is preventing children from being harmed by gun violence. Our programs encompass things like community-based prevention, supporting social and emotional learning in schools, teaching Mental Health First Aid, teaching kids how to be inclusive at school, and helping people to know the signs of someone who may be in a mental crisis.
We also believe in gun safety, which you can see in our program “Keep It Safe and Secure.”
Currington pulling out of the concert cauterizes his concerns about any blowback by attending the event, but it also may embolden gun rights advocates that have unfairly portrayed the intentions of Sandy Hook Promise and the charity concert. Tim McGraw has personal ties to the Sandy Hook story. His touring fiddle player Dean Brown is a long-time friend of Mark Barden, whose child was killed in the mass shooting, and who is also one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise.
The other named opener Chase Bryant has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue, but has also not faced the same ridicule Billy Currington has. After being attacked on Twitter, Currington responded with vulgarity to one commenter before deleting the tweet.
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