HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The families of 11 of the people killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are making it known that they have no association with a gun control group behind a Tim McGraw concert in Hartford this summer.
The July 17 concert is benefiting Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group that involves several victims' families and is at times wrongly assumed to speak for all 26 victims' families. The group's stated objective is to prevent gun violence and focus on mental health issues.
In the statement issued Wednesday to The Associated Press, the 11 families said they wanted to clarify the issue for donors to the group who may believe they are directly supporting the victims' families.
"Our decision to publicly address this matter is not related to a position regarding any of the complex issues surrounding our tragedy, as recent news reports have suggested (i.e. the gun debate, mental health, etc.)," the families said. "We wish only to provide clarification for the many generous donors that believe they are directly supporting the families at the center of this tragedy by contributing to the Sandy Hook Promise origination."
McGraw has defended his decision to headline the concert at the XFINITY Theatre against criticism from gun rights advocates, saying there is no contradiction between gun ownership and supporting Sandy Hook Promise.
The opening act, Billy Currington, withdrew and said on his Facebook page that 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."
Gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook elementary Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza shot and killed his mother in their Newtown home before carrying out the massacre and committing suicide.