A day after Don McLean pulled out of the NRA’s Memorial Day concert in Houston scheduled for this weekend, Larry Gatlin and Larry Stewart of Restless Heart have pulled out as well.
The concert is part of a larger rally organized by the National Rifle Association, featuring speeches from former President Donald Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz; “over 14 acres of guns and gear and 800 exhibitors”; and with a concert featuring Lee Greenwood and others. The event is going forward even though it is taking place just three days after — and less than 300 miles from — Uvalde, Texas, where a school shooting Monday killed at least 19 children and two adults. It was the deadliest and at least the tenth mass shooting and the 27th school shooting in the U.S. this year alone — including one in Houston just two weeks ago, in which two men were killed and three critically wounded.
More from Variety
In a statement that is strikingly at odds with the comments by Republican congresspeople and governors, Gatlin supported background checks for firearms purchases — although he also makes the asinine claim that the killings would not have taken place “if the teachers had been proficient in the use of firearms and had, in fact been armed,” as if a teacher with a pistol could have overpowered a highly motivated murderer with two assault rifles.
Republican leaders such as Cruz and Mitch McConnell and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, all of whom received A+ ratings from the NRA, have said that calls for gun control is “politicizing” the issue.
Gatlin’s statement follows below in full.
“To my fellow sad Americans—
I cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston this weekend. While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde— in my beloved, weeping TEXAS.
It is not a perfect world and the ‘if only crowd’s’ policies will never make it one. I am a ‘what if guy’ and I can’t help but ask the question, ‘What if the teachers had been proficient in the use of firearms and had, in fact been armed this week? My answer is that there would not be 21 freshly dug graves for 21 of GOD’s precious children.
My prayers and thoughts go to all who are suffering, and I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in AMERICA.
I’m a 2nd Amendment guy, but the 2nd amendment should not apply to everyone. It’s that simple.
GOD HELP US PLEASE
“Due to the tragedy in Uvalde with the horrific school shooting and children who died, I want to honor the victims, families, the town and our friends in the great state of Texas the best I know how. So I have made the decision to pull out as a performer for the NRA convention this weekend, especially given the event is just down the road. I’m a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment and I know the NRA is a great organization who teaches strict gun safety with a membership of law-abiding citizens who love our country. I just believe this is best for me at this time. God Bless everyone involved!”
As of Thursday afternoon, the gun-lobbyist organization’s annual meeting was still scheduled to take place at the city’s George R. Brown Convention Center from Friday to Sunday, according to its website.
Along with Greenwood, remaining scheduled performers for the country-leaning concert, which is billed as a “Grand Ole Night of Freedom,” are T. Graham Brown, Jacob Bryant and Danielle Peck. While reps for Gatlin and Stewart confirmed to Variety on Wednesday that they would still be performing, apparently they had a change of heart. “American Pie” singer Don McLean, who was originally scheduled to perform, announced on Wednesday that he was pulling out.
Reps for the NRA did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, although Michael Heckman, CEO of Houston First, the government corporation that oversees the convention center, told Newsweek he was not aware of any plans to cancel the event or change the schedule in the wake of the school shooting. Rep for Trump and Governor Abbott did not immediately confirm whether the former president and the governor will continue with plans to speak at the event.
However, Abbott called for flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in memory of the victims.
Best of Variety