(CNN) — Country music star Tim McGraw has found himself in the middle of the nation’s ongoing debate over gun control after agreeing to perform at a benefit concert for the Sandy Hook Promise foundation.
McGraw defended his decision to appear at the concert — scheduled for July 17 in Hartford, Connecticut — in a statement, after gun-rights activists took to McGraw’s Twitter and Facebook page and derided him for what they view as turning his back on support for the Second Amendment.
“As a gun owner, I support gun ownership,” McGraw said, according to a report from the Connecticut Post on Thursday. “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.”
The Sandy Hook Promise foundation — a nonprofit organization run by family members who lost a loved one in the shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 — is focused on improving access to mental health programs in addition to its promotion of firearm safety, according to the group’s website.
According to the Connecticut Post’s report, McGraw’s fiddle player — Dean Brown — is personal friends with a father who lost his 7-year-old son in the shooting.
Despite McGraw’s statement, critics on social media have continued to accuse him of selling out to the gun control lobby.
“You aren’t helping the rights of the individual by signing on to take them away with your concerts!” one post read.
No national gun rights groups have criticized McGraw thus far for his decision, and there is no indication that he will change his plans to appear at the concert.