Pat Benatar will no longer perform her song Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Singer Pat Benatar said she will stop performing her song Hit Me With Your Best Shot in light of recent mass shootings in the US.

Benatar told USA Today that she has decided to stop playing the song “in deference to the victims [and] the families of these mass shootings”.

“Fans are having a heart attack and I’m like, I’m sorry,” Benatar, who is in the middle of a US summer tour, said. “I tell them, if you want to hear the song, go home and listen to it. [The title] is tongue-in-cheek, but you have to draw the line.”

The song was released in 1980 and was one of the top songs of the year, reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s chorus is a repetition of its title, along with the phrase “fire away”.

“I can’t say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can’t. I’m not going to go on stage and soapbox – I go to my legislators – but that’s my small contribution to protesting,” Benatar said. “I’m not going to sing it. Tough.”

The last year has seen several high-profile mass shootings in the US, including one at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that targeted a Black community, and another in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were murdered.

Analysis has shown that mass shootings are getting deadlier and more common, with the last five years having more mass shootings than any other five-year period going back to 1966.

Celebrities like Benatar have been using their platform to highlight the issue. Earlier this week, college football star Anthony Richardson said that he is dropping his nickname AR-15 in light of recent mass shootings.

After the shooting in Uvalde, actor Matthew McConaughey, a native of the Texas town, delivered an emotional plea at the White House for stronger gun control legislation.

Asked by USA Today about how current events affect the tone of performing her work, Benatar said that she is worried about “fundamental autonomy rights”, referring specifically to the overturning of Roe v Wade, where the US supreme court overturned the landmark 1973 ruling giving the constitutional right to seek an abortion in the US.

“This is a slippery slope. It’s not about abortion for me. I’m concerned that people are not paying attention to what this actually means.”