HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The families of 11 people killed in the Newtown school massacre distanced themselves Wednesday from a gun control group, saying they want to clarify that victims' families are not benefiting directly from a Tim McGraw concert planned this summer.
The July 17 concert in Hartford is benefiting Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group that was created in response to the 2012 tragedy and involves several victims' relatives. It has lobbied for tighter restrictions on guns and organized community-based efforts around the country to protect children from gun violence.
In their statement, the 11 families said they wanted to address confusion regarding whom the group speaks for and the purpose of the benefit concert headlined by McGraw. They said the statement is not related to any position on gun control.
"Our decision to publicly address this matter is not related to a position regarding any of the complex issues surrounding our tragedy," 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 organization.
McGraw has defended his decision to participate in 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."
The families who signed the statement are the parents of slain first-graders Charlotte Bacon, Josephine Gay, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Jessica Rekos and Avielle Richman as well as the families of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung and teacher Victoria Soto.