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Saturday, December 10, 2016

In the aftermath of the Newtown mass shooting, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre predictably blamed everything but America’s lax gun safety regulations, instead pointing the trigger finger at the easiest of targets — Hollywood.

But Left Coast liberals are fighting back against the gun manufacturers lobbying group’s accusations that entertainment industry violence contributes to real gun violence. In a war of words, the  community is exposing the corruption and hypocrisy of the NRA.

At a widely panned post-Sandy Hook press conference in Washington, D.C., LaPierre said (after a protestor shouted “the NRA is killing our children” and right before another shouted “the NRA has blood on its hands”) that “in a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes. Every minute, every day, every hour of every single year.”

Never mind that other countries around the world have access to the same violent television shows, movies and videogames that Americans do, but have much lower rates of gun violence because of much stricter gun control laws.

The response to LaPierre’s remarks from many in the entertainment community was swift and scathing.

Deadline Hollywood film editor Michael Fleming wrote a rebuttal to LaPierre’s comments, saying that while he personally has concerns about “gratuitously violent films,” that “for a gun lobby to point the finger at Hollywood for semi-automatic killing sprees is preposterous and it’s too bad that we are only just waking up to that.” He compared the public outrage aimed at the gun lobby following Newtown to the momentum that brought down Big Tobacco.

Comedy screenwriter and Huffington Post columnist Robert J. Elisberg sarcastically wrote that he admires the NRA’s massive hypocrisy that claims “by blaming Mickey Mouse and the cyber-ozone for society’s ills, we won’t be burdened down feeling we have to deal with such minor details as people who actually have guns and assault weapons and 30-round ammo clips — and use them to kill little children, and instead can spend more time focusing on the real problems, like how to get in to see Pitch Perfect without any of your friends seeing you.”

Some celebrities took to Twitter immediately after LaPierre’s remarks to express their outrage. Denis Leary tweeted that “apparently there is no background check on electing an NRA Executive Vice President.” Adrian Grenier posted, “you have got to be kidding me. NRA is looking to put MORE guns in schools! These people are insensitive and unethical.” Seth Myers addressed his tweet to the NRA, writing that “if we banned schools there would never be another school shooting.” Bette Midler wrote that “NRA says we need armed guards at every school. Well, since NRA IS SHILLING FOR THE FIREARMS INDUSTRY, this makes good sense for them.”

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chairman-CEO and former Democratic U.S. senator from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd, offered a measured response to the Newtown tragedy, saying “I have reached out to the Administration to express our support for the President’s efforts in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Those of us in the motion picture and television industry want to do our part to help America heal. We stand ready to be part of the national conversation.” Dodd took a firm stance for gun control while in Congress, earning an F grade from the NRA. After the Aurora massacre, he came out for an assault weapons ban, adding that “the right to bear arms ought not to be an unlimited right. We ought to have some limitations on who can have access to weapons and this quantity of ammunition.”

In reality, it is the NRA itself that is influenced by Hollywood fantasy. Your average moviegoer knows that the “good guy with a gun” defending innocent bystanders from the “bad guy with a gun,” is an imaginary rendering on the screen with actors shooting fake guns and bullets, and that when they exit the movie theatre, the suspension of disbelief will have ended and real life will have resumed. Most recognize that, except for dangerous, paranoid gun merchants like LaPierre and the NRA, who will hypocritically criticize the entertainment industry while at the same time promoting simplistic, cinematic solutions to the very real problem of gun violence in America.

Photo credit: Have Fun SVO via Flickr

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