Amy Schumer said that she’s always been in favor of smarter gun laws but that the shootings that killed two people at a Louisiana theater showing her latest film last month had made the issue “extremely personal.”
NEW YORK — Comedian Amy Schumer spoke tearfully of two women who were shot to death during a screening of her movie, “Trainwreck,” and asked lawmakers Monday to support a gun-control bill sponsored by her second cousin, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
“I’ve thought about these victims each day since the tragedy,” she said at a news conference at the senator’s office in New York.
“People say, ‘Well, you’re never going to be able to stop crazy people from doing crazy things,’ but they’re wrong. There is a way to stop them,” she said.
Toy guns: Retailers including Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon have agreed to halt the sales of lifelike toy guns in New York. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday the retailers also have agreed to pay more than $300,000 in penalties. Schneiderman’s office found that more than 6,400 toy guns sold from 2012 to 2014 violated New York laws. Most of the toys were sold online. The deal requires those retailers to apply New York City’s strict standards to sales statewide. The push to regulate toy guns has increased since a Cleveland police officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November as the boy was holding a realistic airsoft gun.
Father wounds child: A Florida father accidentally shot and wounded his 12-year-old daughter while teaching her about gun safety Sunday, police said. The child was admitted to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. The gunshot wound to her left forearm was not life-threatening.
Guns at Sept. 11 memorial: A tourist from Texas was arrested over the weekend on charges she was packing two loaded handguns at the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City, authorities said Monday. Elizabeth Enderli, 31, told police she had the weapons in her backpack Saturday and was charged with criminal possession of a weapon before being released Sunday. Friends and family told the New York Post the military veteran has a permit to carry weapons in her home state.
School shooting: The families of 16 victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting will receive about $94,000 each to settle a pair of lawsuits against the estate of the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza. Documents filed Monday in Probate Court show the families have agreed to equally divide a $1.5 million homeowner’s insurance policy Lanza had on the Newtown, Conn., home she shared with her son Adam Lanza, who gunned down 26 people, including 20 first-graders, using a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon his mother had purchased legally. He killed his mother before going to the school.
Seattle Times news services
Specifically, the senator is introducing legislation that would allow the Justice Department “to create rewards and penalties for states that submit or don’t submit all records into the background-check system,” with a particular focus on the records of people with a history of mental illness and drug problems.
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Gunman John Russell Houser shot 11 people during a screening of the film last month in Lafayette, La., before killing himself.
He bought the gun in Alabama last year after a background check that failed to reveal he had a history of psychiatric problems and had been the subject of domestic-violence complaints.
A Georgia judge had ordered Houser detained for a mental evaluation in 2008 after relatives claimed he was dangerous.
Charles Schumer emphasized that his bill, which would also create penalties for states that fail to submit records to the database, is about improving the background-check system, not putting new restrictions on buyers.
Known best for her humor on women’s sexuality and gender inequality, Amy Schumer was asked by reporters Monday whether she thought Houser purposely picked her film because of his negative views about feminism and liberals.
“I got about a million emails from friends telling me, ‘It could have been any movie,’ and I’m trying to believe that. But I’m not sure,” she said.
“I think the idea of women’s equality making anyone upset is not anything I’ll ever understand,” Schumer said.
She said she’s always been in favor of smarter gun laws but that the shootings had made the issue “extremely personal.”
Schumer also said she expected backlash for speaking out about guns, but she didn’t care.
“I’ll handle it the way I’ve handled it the last 10 years,” she said. “I’ve had death threats and a lot of hate directed toward me. But I want to be proud of the way I’m living and what I stand for.”
The powerful Democrat who has long pressed for stricter gun laws, and the comedian are cousins — second cousins once removed, specifically — a connection they only recently explored.
The pair recalled meeting last summer at a Shakespeare in the Park performance in New York.
Charles Schumer reminisced about playing stickball with Amy Schumer’s father on Long Island in the 1950s and noted his nephew’s college friends now ask if there is a family connection to the comedian, not the senator.
“So I’ve made it,” Amy Schumer said dryly.
“We’ll never know why people choose to do these painful things,” she said Monday, her voice quavering at times, “but sadly, we always find out how.”
Amy Schumer said the package of plans “seeks to address the how,” vowing that these initial public comments on gun violence “will not be my last.”
The Schumers also called on Congress to fully fund the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which the Senate has proposed cutting by $159 million, according to Charles Schumer.
The event Monday came about after a phone call from the senator to the comedian, who immediately expressed an interest in working together, they said. Amy Schumer said she “had a lot of say” on the content of the proposals, adding, “I’m pretty stubborn.”
Her cousin said she was persistent about wanting “to do something that was effective but that could actually pass.”
“And that was sort of speaking my language,” he continued.
He acknowledged the steep climb for any gun legislation but expressed optimism about the reach of its newest visible proponent.
“To have voices like Amy begin to speak out,” he said, “reaches people that frankly I could never reach — people who, you know, follow her on Twitter or whatever and wouldn’t follow me.”