Country Fans Turn on Tim McGraw

Sandt HookIn December 2012, a shooter took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in an assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. It was the deadliest shooting ever to take place in an American public school.

Two and a half years later, the Sandy Hook Promise organization has put together a concert to raise funds for promoting “gun safety”. Charity concerts happen all the time, but this one is stirring controversy because the man that has agreed to headline it is one of the biggest stars in a genre of music whose fans have clung to their right to bear arms even in the face of mass shootings.

That man is Tim McGraw.

News of the concert was spread by the conservative media outlet Breitbart in an article titled “Country Singers Tim McGraw, Billy Currington Headlining Gun Control Fundraiser.” (Currington had been scheduled as the opening act.) In the comments, Breitbart‘s readers expressed their dismay, claiming that McGraw had abandoned the principles of the country music fans that bought his records. Some readers even suggested that his participation in the concert might end his career. As the user WyoAndy put it, “So I guess you will be able to see Tim McGraw and Billy Currington opening for the dixie chicks real soon at the Paramus, Nj holiday inn! They are both dead to me!”

Trigger, over at Saving Country Music, argues that Breitbart is being intentionally inflammatory. McGraw agreed to do the show because he has personal ties to one of the victims of the shooting. Moreover, the concert is raising funds for gun safety, not gun control. After the Breitbart article went viral the organization released a statement clarifying its purposes:

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…

We support policy that helps identify, intervene and stop at-risk individuals from hurting themselves or others. And, we support laws that will help to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerously ill people and criminals, as well as out of the reach of children to prevent unintentional shooting deaths and injuries that have become much too frequent.

McGraw, in a statement for The Washington Times, takes a similar stance:

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.

And yet despite these attempts at damage control the concert continues eliciting outrage among fans of country music. Buckling under the pressure, Currington announced on Thursday night that he would not be playing the charity concert though he will open for the other shows on McGraw’s summer tour. Guns rights advocates took Currington’s cancellation as proof that they had been right all along — that the concert had been organized to deprive them of their firearms.

The controversy raises a number of questions that I would love to hear your thoughts about in the comments (or your own posts). Why are guns such a big deal for fans of country music? Do you agree that every “authentic” country performer should support the Second Amendment? Should McGraw have agreed to perform the Sandy Hook Promise concert? Should Currington have pulled out of it?

Most importantly, do you think WyoAndy is right that the controversy signals the end of McGraw’s career? Is he the new Dixie Chicks?


Filed under Charity, Country Pop, News, Politics

4 Responses to Country Fans Turn on Tim McGraw

  1. Jordanne Mickle

    I think that Tim McGraw isn’t going to end his career by doing this concert. People seem to just want to turn anything and everything into a big deal. If anything he could gain an audience, because people will see this concert and could notice “hey this is a country artist that isn’t gun crazy despite owning guns himself”. They could then be more open to listening to him, because their beliefs align in at least one aspect. McGraw shouldn’t have to sing about/support his listeners ideas/beliefs, because he is ultimately an artist with creative power. If you truly support Tim McGraw and his music, you wouldn’t let a gun SAFETY concert get in the way of that support. He’s obviously not anti-gun, so I don’t see what the big deal is. Gun rights just go hand in hand with the stereotypical country lifestyle. People in the country hunt a bit and are more likely to be in shooting (disk) competitions. Guns are a part of “country” hobbies and can provide food through hunting. As for Billy Currington, I think he should have stuck with it. He likely just pulled out, because his agent advised him to after the backlash. Then again, Billy Currington isn’t as popular as Tim McGraw (in my opinion). If he did lose listeners, like some people are suggesting, it would have a bigger impact on him.

  2. Erin McAtee

    Its definitely interesting to me that this is so controversial because of politics. Just based off of the poster for the performance, it seems like a benefit concert for those who suffered from the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary. Regardless of Tim McGraw’s political opinions or belief in the 2nd amendment, I think what he is doing is commendable and will be much appreciated by the Sandy Hook community. I highly doubt this will be the end of his career as a country artist — his consistent popularity and talent to turn out great songs will continue to provide him with chart-topping hits.

  3. Reid Thompson

    Being a gun owner and a country music fan myself, I feel like I can connect with some of the arguments being made on both sides of this ordeal. For many gun owners, many being the millions that are smart, legal, and respectful with their right to use guns, the recent bad press on all gun owners due to indescribable and horrific acts by a select few is frustrating. That being said, I think a lot of pro-gun people feel attacked and as soon as anything even remotely gun related appears, they shoot it down (sorry for the pun) in an effort to keep their lives the same. The fact is, however, that whether they like it or not, this is a changing world that has flaws that need to be addressed. People who disagree with educating the public on gun safety are just as stubborn as those that want to eradicate guns all together. Because a large portion of country music listeners are from areas that are relatively unchanged over the past hundred or so years, they struggle to see this changing world. For them and their communities, guns haven’t been, currently are not, and possibly may never be a problem. However, they must realize that in places unfamiliar to them, this issue is on the rise and needs to be addressed in ways that will not affect their gun ownership at all.

  4. James Pruitt

    I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the artist to always reflect to views of his/her listeners. But to me that’s not even the issue. Both the organization and McGraw clarified their stances as not anti-gun, so why did Currington feel compelled to cancel his show and why is McGraw still catching heat for going ahead with the concert? I guess gun rights are such a sensitive topic right now, especially with country music fans, that any idea that an artist might be anti-gun automatically means they are. I think the whole thing is a big deal over nothing, and I think Sandy Hook Promise is a great organization that is putting on a concert for a great cause.

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