A concert at the XFINITY Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut, on July 17 featuring McGraw will benefit Sandy Hook Promise. The nonprofit group in Newtown was organized by families whose children and siblings were among the 20 children and six educators fatally shot at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
Its stated objective is to prevent gun violence and focus on mental health issues.
Gun rights advocates took to Facebook and Twitter, calling McGraw a hypocrite for headlining the event. Others tweeted messages of support to McGraw for lending his name to Sandy Hook Promise.
Opening act Billy Currington withdrew and said on his Facebook page he doesn't want to become involved in a debate between gun rights and gun control.
"I've never been one to take on controversial issues — I'm a singer," he wrote. "I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization."
McGraw said in a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday there is no contradiction between gun ownership and supporting Sandy Hook Promise.
"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," he said. "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.
"The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering," McGraw said.