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Conservative country singers Lee Greenwood and Larry Gatlin withdrew this week from performing at an NRA convention in Texas taking place days after a deadly school shooting that resurged ongoing debates for gun law reform in the U.S.
The artists canceled after a shooting Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead, including 19 children.
The 2022 annual National Rifle Association convention kicked off Friday in Houston, Texas, roughly 250 miles east of where the deadly shooting took place Tuesday.
"American Pie" songwriter Don McLean, Restless Heart frontman Larry Stewart, singer T. Graham Brown and Sirius XM host Danielle Peck also exited the "Grand Ole Night of Freedom" concert, set for Saturday night.
Independent country singer Jacob Bryant remains on the lineup. At publication time, the NRA continued to promote the show via the organization's website.
In a statement provided to The Tennessean, Gatlin said he "cannot in good conscieous" perform this weekend. Gatlin labeled himself as a "2nd Amendment guy," but said he believes the right to bear arms should not apply to all.
"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," Gatlin, a native of Seminole, Texas, said in his statement.
Gatlin continued, "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."
His statement concluded with asking the NRA to reconsider "some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in America."
Greenwood, known for his song "Good Bless The U.S.A.," confirmed his exit from the performance Friday morning on conservative cable morning show "Fox & Friends."
"For me to go and play at the NRA just days after the shooting would be an endorsement and people would deem that as 'I like this weapon,' and obviously that weapon killed kids," Greenwood said on the show. "I couldn't go."
Those planning to attend the convention include Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former U.S. President Donald Trump.
The NRA released a statement Wednesday confirming that the scheduled convention would still take place and the event would "reflect on these events." According to the NRA website, the Secret Service prevents attendees from carrying firearms or firearm accessories during Trump's address.
USA TODAY reporter Elise Brisco contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Larry Gatlin, Lee Greenwood withdraw from NRA convention in Texas