Misleading Breitbart.com Campaign Baselessly Links Country Star Tim McGraw With Gun Confiscation

Breitbart.com is engaging in a campaign to attack musician Tim McGraw over his planned performance at a gun safety fundraiser by repeatedly connecting him to baseless fearmongering over “legalized firearm confiscation.”

On April 13, McGraw and gun safety group Sandy Hook Promise announced a July 17 concert in Hartford, Connecticut, to benefit Sandy Hook Promise's “mission of protecting children from gun violence.” According to a statement on McGraw's website, “This cause is close to Tim's heart, as it is to the fiddle player in his touring band, Dean Brown, a longtime friend to Mark Barden, a musician and father of a child, who was killed in the 2012 tragedy” at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded by family members of victims of the December 2012 mass shooting that claimed 26 lives in Newtown, Connecticut, describes itself as “a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence.”

Following the announcement, conservative media moved to attack McGraw. In the ensuing controversy, opening act Billy Currington canceled his appearance at the fundraiser. McGraw released a statement defending his involvement in the event that noted that as a gun owner he “believe[s] that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety -- most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can't imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”

Breitbart.com author AWR Hawkins has led efforts to attack McGraw for his scheduled appearance and has published at least three articles that falsely connect McGraw with gun confiscation.

Sandy Hook Promise supports proposed legislation in Oregon that would expand background checks on gun sales. The legislation also has a provision that would allow judges to prohibit firearm ownership for a person with a mental health problem in assisted outpatient treatment who is a danger to themselves or others while treatment is ongoing.

This provision is similar to the longstanding practice of numerous state and federal laws to prohibit gun ownership for individuals at a time when they pose a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health issue.

In an April 17 article, Hawkins failed to explain that the provision would apply to people who are a danger to themselves or others and wrote, “But think about this -- Sandy Hook Promise, the beneficiary of McGraw's gun control concert, supports Oregon Senate Bill 941, a bill which expands background checks to every gun sale in the state -- both retail and private -- and which opens the door to legalized firearm confiscation in the state by requiring judges 'to determine' whether an individual ordered to receive outpatient mental care is unfit for gun possession.”

He later added, “even though the concert is in Connecticut, we have to wonder how much of the money raised by McGraw will go to efforts legalizing gun confiscation in Oregon?”

Hawkins made similar charges in another April 17 article and an April 18 article that misrepresented the Oregon proposal into order to connect McGraw with gun confiscation. In the April 18 article, Hawkins failed to mention mental health at all in claiming that McGraw was supporting a group that backs “legislation in Oregon that opens the door for legalized firearm confiscation.”

According to proposed language, under the Oregon legislation (emphasis added), “the court may prohibit [a] person from purchasing or possessing a firearm during the period of assisted outpatient treatment if, in the opinion of the court, there is a reasonable likelihood the person would constitute a danger to self or others or to the community at large as a result of the person's mental or psychological state, as demonstrated by past behavior or participation in incidents involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence, or by reason of a single incident of extreme, violent, unlawful conduct.