Country singer Larry Gatlin has dropped off the bill for the National Rifle Association’s Memorial Day weekend concert in Houston. The Gatlin Brothers singer joins “American Pie” singer Don McLean and Larry Stewart in bailing on the the “Grand Ole Night of Freedom” show slated to take place on Saturday (May 28) in the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas in which a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
In a statement, Gatlin explained, “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.”
He continued, “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 last 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 My prayers and thoughts go to all who are suffering, and I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in AMERICA.”
Gatlin affirmed that he is still a “2nd Amendment guy,” but said, “the 2nd amendment should not apply to everyone. It’s that simple. GOD HELP US PLEASE.”
In a separate statement, Restless Heart’s Stewart also cited the Uvalde shooting as the reason he did an about-face about appearing at the concert that, at press time, was still slated to feature appearances from Lee Greenwood, Danielle Peck, T. Graham Brown and Jacob Bryant.
“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,” said Stewart of the celebration from the gun rights group taking place just 300 miles from the site of the 27th school shooting of 2022.
“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,” he said. “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!”
McLean was the first act to drop off the bill Wednesday in light of the 212th mass shooting event this year, also citing the attack at Robb Elementary as his reason. “I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week,” McLean said in a statement. “I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans. I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.”
At press time, the annual meeting of the gun lobbying organization that has donated tens of millions to politicians to bolster Second Amendment legislation was scheduled to host Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as former president Donald Trump. The gathering — which was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, and is also scheduled to feature speeches from several other Republican politicians, including Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
In a statement, the NRA called the massacre at the Texas grade school — the deadliest such incident since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead — a “horrific and evil crime,” which it said was the work of a “lone, deranged criminal.” It added, “As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
Republican Abbott, who last year signed a law that did away with the requirement for Texans to be licensed to carry handguns, said on Wednesday that the slain 18-year-old suspect had no known criminal history or mental health issues.