The hip-hop community responds to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy

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(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for AKOO Clothing)

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for AKOO Clothing)

Hip-hop artist T.I. has weighed in on the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In a candid discussion about the tragedy on Hot 97 FM, the Atlanta-based rapper said he did not agree with a ban on assault weapons.

“This is my problem with stepping in right now in the ban of anything,” T.I. said. “That means it is only the criminals who are going to be allowed to have this particular item.”

The rapper went on to say from personal experience he understands the need to own firearms, especially in areas in America where violence is rife. In the past, “I had a necessity for a gun” for protection, he said.

“If the illegals have them, I think the legals must have them,” he added.

The self-proclaimed King of the South’s multifaceted career is, with the release of his new album Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, going from strength to strength. Though, the rap star has famously served two stints in prison, including time in jail for weapons charges.

In immediate aftermath of Friday’s mass shooting, several hip-hop and R&B artists took to Twitter to express their condolences.

Celebrities, such as Lil Wayne, Big Boi Diddy, Alicia Keyz, Big Boi, Game, Bun B, The-Dream, and Curren$y, all posted messages expressing their shock.

Lil Wayne tweeted, “Prayers for those in Connecticut…senseless.”

While Solange Knowles voiced her concerns about the current gun laws, “New gun laws MUST happen. This is devastating.”

However, hip-hop artists have oftentimes been criticized for glamorizing gun violence, with some rappers even brandishing guns in music videos or posing with weapons in ad campaigns.

For instance, in 2006 a Get Rich or Die Tryin’ poster showing rapper 50 Cent with a gun and baby was banned for glamorizing gun crime by the UK Advertising Standards Authority.

Artists, especially rap stars, have a responsibility because of their followers, said Ogbonna Hagins, CEO/Founder of Philadelphia-based hip-hop magazine, Philly Word. Nonetheless, he adds that, “hip-hop music is no more to blame for gun crime than films or video games.”