An emotional Amy Schumer appeared with her second cousin once removed — Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer — at a joint press conference on Monday to promote new legislation on gun control, in the wake of a deadly shooting at a screening of her film "Trainwreck" in a Louisiana movie theater last month.
The July 23 shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, which killed two and injured nine others, brought national attention back onto the issue of guns and safety in our nation's multiplexes. Authorities confirmed that the shooter, who killed himself before police could apprehend him, obtained his weapon legally. After initially tweeting her grief for the victims, Amy Schumer pledged to take a more active role in the gun control fight on Saturday in a response to an open letter from a parent of a Sandy Hook shooting victim. "Don’t worry I’m on it. You’ll see,” wrote the actress.
"We're here today to say enough is enough, to mass shootings in our schools, our college campuses, our military bases and even in our movie theaters," Schumer said in her prepared remarks. After tearfully paying tribute to the two women killed in the Lafayette theater, the comedian threw the weight of her celebrity behind new legislation being promoted by Sen. Schumer, which she said deserves "unanimous support."
The lawmaker's proposal seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of people with a violent criminal history and/or mental illness by providing financial incentives for states that submit data to the federal government for more fully-rounded checks while penalizing states that don't. "We provide both carrots and sticks," the senator said. "That should put some teeth in the law."
Although recent attempts to expand background checks have failed in Congress, and the likelihood of the legislation gaining steam in the shadow of an upcoming election year is slim, he insisted, "We’ve gotta keep trying. We cannot give up."
The "Trainwreck" actress spoke candidly about concerns that her film may have in some way motivated the shooter, who was alleged to have anti-feminist views. "I'm not sure why this man chose my movie to end these two beautiful lives and injure nine others but it was very personal for me," she said on Monday.
"I got about a million emails from friends saying it could have been any movie," the actress said. "I'm trying to believe that but I am not sure." Schumer has satirized the easy access Americans have to guns in the past on her hit Comedy Central show "Inside Amy Schumer." In a sketch that aired in May, she portrayed a child being able to buy a firearm faster than a woman can legally purchase birth control.
She told reporters that she anticipated a backlash to her pro-gun control stance and that she planned to handle it in much the same way she has reacted to the death threats and hatred she has received during the last decade — with resolve and strength. "This may be my first public comments on the issue of gun violence but I can promise you they will not be my last," Schumer declared.
The senator initially reached out to his cousin in the aftermath of the Lafayette tragedy because he believed she could motivate her substantial fan base to rally in support of "common sense" gun restrictions. He said he was "so grateful" for his cousin, who immediately said she wanted to do something about gun violence when he contacted her.
Ironically, Sen. Schumer was largely unfamiliar with his famous relative until fairly recently. During an interview with msnbc's Steve Kornacki last month, the New York lawmaker said that, although he "probably had met her when she was a little girl," he didn't get to know the comedian until she later introduced herself to him at a performance of Shakespeare in the Park.
"She came over, she was not as famous as she is now, but she was still pretty famous," said the senator. "She said 'I'm Amy Schumer.' I said, 'Are you my cousin?' Because ... in those days she was saying she was related to me — that helped her, I guess. Now I can say I'm related to her."