HARTFORD - Country fans filled Hartford’s Xfinity Theater Friday night to hear Tim McGraw sing, but not everyone is a fan of the country star headlining this particular show.
The concert was a benefit for a non-profit organization called Sandy Hook Promise, formed after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
When the show was first announced last spring, McGraw faced a lot of criticism from gun rights groups that called the concert a “gun control fundraiser.”
“Personally I'm a gun holder. I enjoy being able to carry if I wish or not,” said Crystal Davis, a Tim McGraw fan who attended Friday’s concert. “I think it's really respectful for him to come up to Connecticut considering the tragedy and try to give something to them.”
In addition to backlash from groups like the NRA, 11 families affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy released a statement after the concert’s announcement stating they aren’t associated with the Sandy Hook Promise organization and will not personally benefit from the concert.
The mission of Sandy Hook Promise is to protect children from gun violence with targeted prevention programs in the area of mental wellness early-identification and intervention, social and emotional development and firearm safety and security.
“I don't think it has to do with taking guns away. It's just trying to get people to understand more and it's a charity to raise money where it's needed,” said Sherman Wood of New York, who also attended Friday’s concert.
Tim McGraw, a gun owner, responded to the criticism months ago in a statement saying he believes 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's opening act, Billy Currington, did drop out due to the controversy, but Currington stated he supported the Sandy Hook community and would make a donation to “a local organization.”
There were no protesters at Friday night's concert and FOX CT learned many concert goers were not aware of the controversy leading up to the show.
Representatives from Sandy Hook Promise said they had no comment on the concert.