Hollywood Liberals Can't Stop the NRA: We Need Taylor Swift, Country Stars, Action Heroes

UPDATED | A new gun control PSA from the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund uses celebrities Bill Hader, Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy, Sheryl Crow, Julianne Moore and more to urge viewers to call their congressional representatives: Connect with your representative's office by texting "REJECT" to 644-33. From there, the celebrities instruct the viewer, you’ll be routed to a voicemail box where you can demand your congressperson vote against the Hearing Protection Act, which would change federal regulation of gun “silencers” (also known as “suppressors” or “moderators”).

There’s nothing wrong with any of these people speaking their minds, but here’s the problem: All are left-leaning Hollywood insiders with a slim chance of changing the minds of people who support gun ownership. For example, consider that Hader and McCarthy are the actors who have mocked two former members of President Trump’s team (Anthony Scaramucci and Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live), both now embarrassments for the current administration and Republicans. It’s like sticking a finger in the shame wound.

If Everytown wants to force difficult conversations among those who oppose gun laws, they need to recruit the celebrities those people love: Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Sam Hunt, for example, or the stars of shows that conservatives favor, like The Walking Dead, The Voice and NCIS.

The Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting at a Jason Aldean concert, in which Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded 489 more, rocked the country music industry, which has historically aligned itself with conservative values. After witnessing the violence, Caleb Skeeter, of the Josh Abbott band—part of the Mandalay Bay line-up—told his fans, “We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.” Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash and a country star in her own right, wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times urging country fans to ally themselves against the NRA.

Now imagine if the cast of the Fast and Furious franchise or actor Jon Bernthal, of Marvel’s The Punisher, came out in support of laws limiting silencers and suppressors? Or gun-owning celebrities, like Johnny Depp or Eva Longoria?

fast_and_furious_mtv_awards The cast of "The Fast and the Furious" films, including Vin Diesel, accept an MTV Movie Award in 2017. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Keanu Reeves, star of the John Wick films, was quoted as saying citizens who want to own a weapon should be able to do that. A pretty middle of the road statement. How does Reeves, whose Wick training videos NRA-supporting communities found impressive, feel about Stephen Paddock’s ability to own automatic weapons? Where are the stars of action blockbusters filled with mass violence? Even those who vehemently oppose additional gun control measures, who identify as diehard supporters of the Second Amendment, could feasibly support bipartisan “common sense” legislation.

When it comes to grassroots efforts to enforce gun control, the numbers are against liberals. Half of the guns in the United States are owned by civilians belong to 3% of the population; 78% of Americans don’t own guns at all. But in February, the House voted 235 to180 to roll back an Obama-era law that made it mandatory for people who receive disability benefits and have a mental health condition to be routed into a system the FBI uses to administer background checks and determine eligibility for a firearm. That means NRA-supporting radicals have the nation by the throat, and what they really support is the big business of selling firearms, not the average American citizen’s rights.

Everytown will likely never get the cast of Duck Dynasty to appear in a PSA, but imagine the power of the message if they did (feel free to steal it, Duck dudes): “We sure do love our guns, and we honor the tradition of owning and training to use firearms as hunters and collectors, but we don’t think the average citizen needs legal, easy access to a suppressor.”

To check where your representative stands on gun control, go to ProPublica’s coverage.

An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Stephen Paddock as having used a silencer during the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting. 

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