Lee Greenwood addresses pulling out of NRA performance in Houston: ‘It would just be in really bad taste’

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Lee Greenwood is opening up on his decision not to perform at the National Rifle Association (NRA) conference on Friday in Houston, Texas in the wake of the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

"You know, I thought about that long and hard," Greenwood explained to Fox News Digital. "I talked to some of my friends Don McLean and Larry Gatlin. And Larry Gatlin made a very good statement to the NRA."

Added Greenwood: "I am a gun owner. I believe in the Second Amendment. But my performance at the NRA would have been deemed [that] I'm endorsing the gun that killed the children. And I thought that was just in not only bad taste, but out of respect of the families that lost their children and the teachers that were killed, would just be in really bad taste. And so we did notify the NRA that we're not going to play their convention."

On Wednesday, "American Pie" singer Don McClean said that he will no longer be performing at the NRA conference after the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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"In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week," McClean told Fox News Digital 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," he concluded.

The country music singer, 79, said he thought about the days when he would often drop his own children off at school and never thought twice about the idea that they wouldn’t be safe in such an innocent setting.

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"I have two sons and when they were very young, six and three, I really didn't think about the danger when we dropped them off at school. I thought it's just going to be [the school] has them for a while and I get them back. And now the danger is a little bit more present," Greenwood explained of the rate at which mass shootings occur on campuses throughout the nation. "After Columbine and then Sandy Hook and now this shooting, not only does my heart break for the parents that surrendered their children to school that morning and will not see them again, but I think what needs to change is more protection of our students when they're in school."

Greenwood said in his view, "the simple answer would have been in a typical military protocol, you lock all doors, an armed officer at the front door – there's only one way in and one way out. He could have engaged the shooter when he walked in. That's the first thing."

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The "Fool’s Gold" crooner continued in explaining that in his estimation, loose guns laws and lackadaisical background checks carry a burden of the blame in Salvador Ramos, 18, obtaining the weapon he used to carry out the deadliest shooting at an elementary school since Sandy Hook in 2012.

"I don't know who needs to have an automatic weapon, but if someone wants to cause mayhem and wants to kill me, finding a gun is not a problem," Greenwood said. "You can't stop somebody, but you could stop multiple killings – and that is the automatic weapons."

Greenwood pressed: "Of course, background checks – you have to have extended background checks. And in my estimation, if an 18-year-old walked into a gun store, buys a rifle and a gun and 375 rounds of ammunition, I would like to know where he's going with that. I'd question at depth what he's going to do with that gun. Are you a hunter? Do you have a hunting license? You know, how is your family? You know, where are you going next week? I mean – just some casual conversation about that because that's what they do at the border when immigration questions us when we come from another country. Where have you been? Have you been around diseases or – just a simple questioning might have prevented this guy from getting the weapon."

So soon in the wake of such a historical slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, looms one of the nation’s most celebrated holidays memorializing and honoring those in our Armed Forces who paid the ultimate price in protecting the freedoms of their country.

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For Greenwood, Memorial Day is more than just a day of remembrance but a time for many across various life spectrums to come together – if just for a day – in a unified front.

"The memories that we have of past Memorial Days is basically getting some fireworks. In the song the national anthem, 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' it's ‘the bombs bursting in air.’ There's a lyric about that. That was over Fort McHenry, of course, as we were gaining our independence in the Revolutionary War," Greenwood explained in a brief lesson in American history.

"I think that's kind of the magic of fireworks and what they do for us and we have that every year in our cul de sac," continued Greenwood – who will be setting out on a much-needed family vacation following his performance at NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. "It's we always go get some Black Cat fireworks and just, you know, have a great time."

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Greenwood performed Friday during the "Fox & Friends All American Summer Concert Series" in front of many of our nation’s service people. He said the moment was awe-inspiring given the state New York City was in just one year ago and even more so in the months and years following September 11, 2001.

"That's what this attitude is about when we do this live stage outside of FOX Studios," he said. "And it's pretty cool being in New York City where things are now hustling and bustling. And as we look back on 2001 and how this town was almost a ghost town after the attack on America and the rebuilding of our country and its attitude, its unity. There's so much to it. And that's why I'm proud to be in part of that fiber that makes things more unified."

Lee Greenwood with members of the United States Navy during a visit to "FOX &Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on May 27, 2022, in New York City. <span class="copyright">Roy Rochlin</span>
Lee Greenwood with members of the United States Navy during a visit to "FOX &Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on May 27, 2022, in New York City. Roy Rochlin

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Greenwood added: "It is amazing. And it's not the first time we've done this. And it is Memorial Day weekend. It's always an exciting time for us because we get to uplift America. We talk about the memory of those who have served the country and sacrificed for all of the rest of us. There are some fortunate events that have led to this weekend, but we're going to try to focus on the positive and talk about the military, mostly, of course, and remember those who have given us our freedom."

Greenwood is celebrating his 80th birthday in October and he told Fox News Digital that he’ll likely use the time to "possibly wind down my touring schedule for the rest of my life."

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"I think 80 days for 80 years old makes a lot of sense next year," he said, adding that he will also be releasing a new album featuring 21 original songs "all rerecorded while I can still sing as good as I do, and then just pursue the business with a passion like I always have."