Hollywood Activists Decry Senate’s Failure to Pass Gun Control Measures

Hollywood Activists Decry Senate's Failure Pass
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Entertainment industry activists, some of them motivated into action after the Newtown shootings, on Wednesday slammed the Senate’s inability to pass gun background check measures, as progressive groups vowed to target Democrats who voted against the latest effort at gun control.

An amendment offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand background checks failed when it received 54 votes, six short of the number needed to survive a filibuster. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been leading a push for stricter gun laws, called the vote “a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington.” He said that next year, a midterm election year, “our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget.”

It is unclear what will happen with an amendment offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) that calls for a comprehensive study of violence in videogames and other media, to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. The Manchin-Toomey amendment also would have set up a national commission to study mass shootings, including a probe of the media culture of violence. Rockefeller supported the Manchin-Toomey proposal, but the fate of his own amendment depends on what happens to the overall gun legislation in the next few days, according to a spokesman for Rockefeller.

Meanwhile, the activists who push hard for the background checks — and advocate even stricter measures — expressed disappointment.

Tony Bennett, who helped launch an org, Voices Against Violence, pushing for gun control, urged his Twitter followers to call Senators who voted against the background checks. Bennett has appeared on HuffPostLive and in Washington media pushing for legislation, and, with his son, Danny, enlisted Paul McCartney, Gloria Estefan. Josh Groban and other figures in a text-to-call campaign to contact members of Congress.”We will not stop until our voices are heard,” Bennett said on Twitter.

Another activist pushing for gun control legislation, John Legend, wrote, “Shame on our Senate. Wow. Vote those cowards out next year.” Michael Moore tweeted an expletive.

A number of celebrities appeared in ads in December for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, while Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and others appeared in a Demand a Plan PSA calling for new legislation. Those spots, sponsored by Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Gun Violence, drew counter-cries of hypocrisy from run rights advocates, who produced a YouTube video showing some of the celebrities appearing in violent movie scenes.

Courage Campaign, the Los Angeles progressive org led by Rick Jacobs, launched an effort shortly after the vote to encourage donors to withhold money from Democrats who voted no. They include Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also voted no, but it was a procedural vote to ensure that the legislation could be reintroduced.

Begich, Pryor and Baucus face reelection next year. Begich and Baucus have collected significant amounts from TV, movie and music sources in their careers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with Begich collecting $165,000 and Baucus raising $447,000.

Lara Bergthold, a principal with Griffin Schein public affairs firm, whose clients include Rob Reiner and Norman Lear, said that donors generally understand that moderate Democratic senators in Republican-leaning states have to make votes “that reflect the views of their constituents.” But the votes against the gun control measures were essentially votes to prevent them from getting to the floor, where they stand a better chance of passing by simply majority.

“I think where [donors] draw the line is a Democrat voting for a filibuster and not even allowing a vote on it,” she said. “…We are a large tent, but Democrats who can’t support bringing a vote to the floor ought not to be in the Senate.”

She predicted that it will be “much harder” for the “no” voting Democrats to raise money from industry sources in their races next year.

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  1. Blaine Holzer says:

    If a large percentage of the U.S. backs the so called “Universal Background Check” bill, it is because they don’t realise how easily it might lead to registration and, thence, to CONFISCATION! Once your weapons are gone, they’re gone FOR GOOD! Ask those poor folks in the U.K. .

    Molon Labe!

    • Michael says:

      So true it cannot be said enough Registration leads to Confiscation! Americans stand up for your right to keep and bear arms!!!!!!!!

  2. Richard Jennings says:

    Good on the Senate! It’s about time the Senate stood up for the Constitution, instead of being stampeded by the likes of Hollywood commies, Feinstein and Obama. We gun owners are sick and tired of being scapegoated for the things we don’t do, and we’re not giving another inch.

    Shame on Obama for his Danse Macabre, using the parents of Sandy Hook in his campaign! Disgusting!

  3. John Dalco says:

    This is a great day for our civil rights. Rights listed in our Constitution should NEVER be subject to popular vote. Just like the right for all to marry whomever they love should not be up for a vote the right to self defense should not be up to a vote. This is a huge win for our country and our rights! It is sad that so many Senators forgot their oaths to the Constitution and voted to support this crazy law that would do NOTHING to stop another shooting while imposing more restrictions on law abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong.

  4. Michael says:

    Here is a novel idea. Make parents parent their children. Teach them that it is not ok to shoot kill or mame others. Teach them that video games, tv, and movies are not real. So lets pass a law that makes parents responsible for their kids actions because lets face it making gun ownership illegal, which is what they are after, will not stop the problem. Come on, it is not a gun issue. Even the FBI stats on murders say that more people are killed every year by hammers than guns, so lets get rid of the hammers before the guns. Then we will concentrate on the next heinous murder weapon on the list. I am not a gun owner or a gun nut. I am an intelligent understanding person that realizes that if more responsible people actually own and carry weapons then that will do more to stop tragedies like the school shooting that have happened in this and other countries. England banned gun ownership and their gun crimes statistics are on the same scale as the United States so why is that if outlawing guns solves all the problems of gun violence?

  5. George Valentin says:

    Shame on the Senate! I applaud the Hollywood celebrities who took a stand against gun violence.

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