Amy and Sen. Chuck Schumer team up to fight gun violence

Actress/comedian Amy Schumer and New York's senior senator have more in common than their last names. They share a commitment to reforming gun policy.

Seth Wenig/AP
Actress Amy Schumer speaks while her distant cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, watches during a news conference in New York on Monday. The Schumers are teaming up to try and enact gun control regulations.

In her film “Trainwreck,” comedian Amy Schumer stands up for millennials who don’t quite have their lives figured out yet. But when the movie became associated with a shooting that left nine injured and three dead at a theater in Lafayette, La., Ms. Schumer found another cause to take up.

At a press conference Monday, Ms. Schumer and her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York, announced a joint initiative to strengthen the United States’ defenses against gun violence, USA TODAY reported.

The problem they identified was the ease with which those who should not have access to guns are able to acquire them. John “Rusty” Hauser, the man who shot 11 people and himself at a “Trainwreck” screening last month, is reported to have had a history of mental illness that should have barred him from buying a gun.

"I'm not sure why this man chose my movie to end those two lives and injure nine others, but it was very personal for me," Ms. Schumer said at the conference, according to Mashable. "We always find out how the shooter got their gun and it's always something that never should have happened in the first place."

Their plan involves strengthening background-check programs for customers wishing to purchase firearms and addressing the roles mental illness and substance abuse play in gun violence.

Senator Schumer, who has a long history of supporting gun-control policy, announced upcoming legislation that would give states monetary incentive to comply with background-check programs by submitting all necessary records, and would withhold funding from states that fail to do so.

The pair will also ask the Department of Justice to publish mental-health information and make recommendations on how states should handle involuntary commitment to psychiatric institutions, and they will encourage Congress to increase funding for mental health and substance abuse programs.

Ms. Schumer’s decision to join the fight for stricter gun laws, though not necessarily a natural extension of her public persona as a comic voice for millennial women, has been long-awaited by some.

Sarah Clements, who took up gun-control activism after her mother survived the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., wrote an open letter to Ms. Schumer on Medium last week in which she called on the actress to use her influence to take a stand.

“Be a voice for our generation and for women  –  two groups who make up most of the victims of the gun violence in our country,” Ms. Clements said in the letter. She also criticized Ms. Schumer’s initial response to the Lafayette shooting – a single tweet. “I know deep down that the tweet you sent after the shooting was not all that you’ve got.”

Ms. Schumer responded to Clements’ letter with – what else? – a tweet. “Don’t worry I’m on it. You’ll see,” she wrote.

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