February 6th, 2013
01:07 PM ET
1 year ago

Celebrities pressure Congress to act

(CNN) - A somber Tony Bennett didn't have much to say Wednesday at a press conference on gun violence. But he wanted one message to get through.

"I still haven't gotten over Connecticut," the 86-year-old singer said. "I'd like the assault weapons to go to war, not in our own country. And I'd like assault weapons eliminated. Thank you."

Bennett was one of several celebrities and survivors of shootings who gathered in the nation's capital Wednesday to urge lawmakers to act on firearm legislation–and soon.

Sponsored by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the eclectic group of actors, comedians, advocates and doctors argued for a range of changes, from background checks to all-out bans on assault weapons. The same organization, backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, produced a nearly 90-second ad in late December featuring dozens of A-listers calling for a plan against gun violence.

Some simply came Wednesday to throw their support behind President Barack Obama, who's leading a push of his own to tighten gun laws following the Newtown elementary school shooting that left 26 killed, including 20 children.

"The president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country," comedian and actor Chris Rock said. "And when your dad says something, you listen. And when you don't, it usually bites you in the ass later on. So I'm here to support the president."

Obama took his proposals on the road Monday in a campaign-style event in Minneapolis, reiterating his support for banning semi-automatic rifles modeled after military weapons as part of an updated version of an earlier weapons ban that expired in 2004.

A number of proposals have also been put forward on Capitol Hill that would enact stricter gun regulations to varying degrees. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday on ABC that he supported expanding background checks to private transactions–a measure that has widespread, bipartisan support–but stopped short of endorsing an assault weapons ban, as proposed by his Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein.

Opponents say such a ban would do little to prevent gun violence, citing statistics that show most shootings come from handguns, not assault weapons.

Other initiatives that have support from both sides of the aisle include proposals to boost the nation's mental health services. Of the president's 23 executive actions he signed on gun violence last month, three of them deal with mental health and one encourages the Centers for Disease Control to conduct more research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Actress Amanda Peet, during the press conference, warned that even with improvements to the mental health system, "a troubled few will slip through the cracks."

"But what's the alternative? Doing nothing will fail, doing nothing has failed," she said.

Kerry Kennedy, whose father Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in 1968 during his presidential campaign, stood alongside Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of the civil rights activist, at the event.

"We passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 for my father, my uncle, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X," she said, with a photo of her dad on the podium. "Surely we can pass a Gun Control Act of 2013 for the 20 children who lost their lives in Newtown, the school officials who died defending them and all of the Americans who had to die by a gun before we took action."

Dr. Michael Nance, a pediatric and trauma surgeon with the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, said he frequently operates on children with gunshot wounds.

"Perhaps the most challenging aspect is to look in the eye of a distraught parent and say 'I'm sorry, I've done everything I can do, but it wasn't enough'," he said. "I would urge our legislators to ask the question of themselves regarding gun violence, whether they can look in the face of a parent and say 'I've done everything I can within my power to help'."


Filed under: Congress • Gun control • Gun rights
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Paul

    What do these people now about gun safety? or guns? Tony Bennett says he would like "assault weapons to be eliminated." His statement just shows how ignorant and stupid people are about guns. You cannot "eliminate" a form of technology, if assault weapons exist somewhere in the world, people can get them. No matter what law you enact. You might as well wish to ride a unicorn.

    February 6, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. The Mayor of Medinah

    Congress should pressure the celebrities on how to act… since when did these boozing, drug doing, philandering people become the moral voice of America?

    February 6, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. SpencerRifle

    So, let these so-called celebrities contact their elected representatives in Congress & we will do the same. Who do they think they are that their opinions matter more than anyone else?

    February 6, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. What1

    More people died at Waco then Sandy Hook.

    February 6, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. LibParrots

    I say we have an IQ test to be eligble for freedom of speech...that would quiet the ignorant.

    February 6, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Ryan Bermudez

    These people need to stick to what they do best. Get PAID for acting. Why aren't they so worried about budget? Oh yea thats right they have sheet loads of money! What a crock of sheet!

    February 6, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. John Illinois

    There goes Obama and liberals pimping Hollywood again. Who would have ever thought that the liberals in Hollywood would be backing Obama?!!? What a shock!!!! Stick to entertaining, that is all most of you are knowledgeable about anyway.

    February 6, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. SilentPro21

    @rad666 "Are they the same celebrities that are in violent movies or sing songs with violent lyrics?" Thank you so what they are saying is it's okay if they are in a place to make money off it, it is okay or will they all now refuse million dollar film deals if offered to them? doubt it.....As for Chris Rock and all the others I will believe it when I see all of your guards/entourage turn in their weapons. †™

    February 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Vdrummin

    Assault weapons mean just that they are for assulting people; bacially killing them with 30 round magazine. They are for WAR and should be banned. What don't people understand about this. You can't stop all the crazies out there, but you shouldn't arm them with weapons like assualt guns. Please America think of your children and help ban them

    February 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Bill

    Maybe if we diverted some of the money being used for senior's healthcare and prescription drugs and used it for mental health initiatives, the politicians might have something.

    February 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. The REAL Truth...

    @LibParrots – I say we have an IQ test to be eligble for freedom of speech...that would quiet the ignorant.
    ---------------------------–
    Let's have one for procreation approval too! With that in place, we'd CUT the RW voters rolls by a good 80% !!
    What a load of mularkey.....

    February 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. bounce88

    @Ancient Texan – Tony Bennett is a World War II combat veteran. Combat. Not some paper pusher who never went overseas. I believe he even fought in the Battle of the Buldge. He described his combat experience as having "a front row seat in hell." I think he knows the difference. And I think given his service to our county in combat, his opinion, while you may not agree with it, deserves your respect.

    February 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Murphy

    Nobody cares what these people think. Go and entertain something...then shut up.

    February 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    jestanle

    Why should we care what empty headed celebrities think?
    ------

    so when Ted (oops I soiled myself) Nugent, Kelsey Grammar, Bruce Willis, Gov Arnold, or some other rightie comes out on an issue, will you spew the same nonsense??

    February 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. liberal disease

    idiot liberal actors, who blow away people in their movies suddenly have a conscience? go away and make a movie in Canada

    February 6, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Rocket J Squirrel

    First of all lets look at enforcing the laws we have on the books today. Making new laws without any discussion on how to enforce them is ludicrous and a waste of taxpayers money. The media should be addressing this issue as well.

    February 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What do these people now about gun safety? or guns?"

    One assumes they do at the very least know guns kill. The NRA ... not so much.

    February 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. S

    This is breaking news. In Canada, we have violent movies and video games, and yes even criminals – who by definition break the law.

    We also don't teach evolution as an alternate theory and recognize that the planet is older than 6000 years.

    When facts, reason, evidence become so easily dismissed; its no wonder you will not be able to make improvements on this issue.

    February 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Jim

    Chris rock-for-brains can take his delusional gay communist democrat crap along with his mammy and daddy straight to the devil. We don't need any of you.

    February 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    So did Chris Rock treat George W. Bush like he was his father? Just another left wing hypocrite.
    ----------------------------------------------–George was an irresponsible parent who allowed an attack on the homeland and watched a major American flood while he flied overheard on AF1. If he was our daddy, he should be locked up for child neglect.

    February 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Dadoo Gozaway

    There are 2 issues, protecting people from gun violence, committed with handguns and assault weapons with large magazine capacity, and the second issue is that gun manufacturers and sellers don't want to be stuck with unsaleable assault weapons and magazines, and their business profits mean more to them than school children's lives. The NRA , representing the manufacturers , ralies all sort of phony, paranoid, conspiracy theorists with fake constitutional issues.
    THE REAL QUESTION, with clips, assault weapons, background checks is : LIVES OR PROFITS.

    February 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. NCMichael

    I love the foolproof response of all the anti-gun people on the board: "But what about the children?" I remember after 9/11, when the right used the response "Don't you want to support the troops?"... its pathetic. You didn't care about the children before Newtown. Ever hear of places like Chicago? Compton? Detroit? Oakland? New York? Right, you've heard of it but you didn't care then. You even know why. So tell me, are you a hypocrite? Let me help you out, yes, yes you are.

    February 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Keel Hauler

    I could care less what anyone with private security and no responsibility for their own safety has to say about the firearms that the rest of us can have. Bite me!

    February 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. noteasilyswayed

    Extreme right wingers will not support any kind of gun control or background checks. They have bought the NRA and gun manufacturers' positions and nothing will make them deviate from that because they are anti-government; until they themselves need government help, then they are all for it and start demanding it.

    February 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Some simply came Wednesday to throw their support behind President Barack Obama, who's leading a push of his own to tighten gun laws following the Newtown elementary school shooting that left 26 killed, including 20 children
    -------------------------------------------------
    Godspeed to you Mr. President. You are one of the few that can address this iissue head on as you're not beholden to the NRA and the gun manufacturers they truly represent.
    Pull out all the stops: celebrity support, press conferences to educate citizens as to your common sense proposals, polls showing that the overwhelming majority of Americans including gun-owners support your stance.
    Those blocking you are banking on scaring people into thinking that you're trying to repeal the 2nd Ammendment. Infringe on their personal rights. Nothing could be further from the truth,and the more you speak, and others speak supporting you the clearer and more far-fetched that fabrication becomes.

    February 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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