Music

Larry Gatlin Pulls Out of Texas NRA Country Concert, Calls for Background Checks

A country music concert slated for this weekend’s NRA Convention in Houston just lost another performer. Larry Gatlin, a member of the country trio the Gatlin Brothers, has dropped out of the lineup. The 74-year-old vocalist and songwriter behind Gatlin Brothers hits like “All the Gold in California” and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” says in a statement that he “cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston” following Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

“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,” Gatlin said. It’s a remarkable statement for a conservative country star who’s performed at past NRA conventions, as well as at Trump rallies.

“I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in America,” he said. “I’m a 2nd Amendment guy, but the 2nd Amendment should not apply to everyone. It’s that simple.”

But Gatlin didn’t do a full-about face as it relates to gun control. He went on to recycle the gun-advocate trope that a good guy with a gun can neutralize an attacker. “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.”

Gatlin’s departure from the concert, billed as “NRA Grand Ole Night of Freedom,” follows that of Don McLean. The “American Pie” singer said performing at the event following the events in Uvalde would be “disrespectful and hurtful.”

Shortly after Gatlin withdrew, singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood, Larry Stewart of the band Restless Heart and solo artist Danielle Peck did likewise.

“After much thought, as a both a mother and out of respect for all of the families in Uvalde, TX during the heartbreaking time, I have made the decision to not host or perform at the NRA Event in Houston this weekend,” Peck said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Instead, my thoughts and prayers will be with the families going through this tragic and unimaginable time right now.”

“As a father, I join in the rest of America in being absolutely heartbroken by the horrific event that transpired this week in Texas,” Greenwood wrote in a statement. “During this Memorial Day weekend, we should also remember the servicemen and women, and first responders, who’ve given their lives to protect our great country. Please join me to pay our respects as we unite together as would be the most appropriate measure at this time.”

Larry Gatlin’s full statement:

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
-Larry Gatlin

Additional reporting by Jonathan Bernstein

This story was updated 5/26/2022 at 10:00 p.m. EST to report Lee Greenwood had also withdrawn from the event.

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