Personal story infuses views on guns, First Amendment

“It goes to the First Amendment. Whether you’re pro-gun or anti-gun, everyone has a right to speak.”

Marty Singer, a founding member of law firm Lavely & Singer, has aggressively and successfully repped a long list of major showbiz artists and celebs, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Charlie Sheen. Singer learned first-hand about gun violence two decades ago. He talked to Variety’s Peter Caranicas about guns and his support of victims’ rights org Justice for Homicide Victims.

Can you share your personal story?
The NRA says guns don’t kill, people do; but 21 years ago, my wife’s brother, who was working as my office manager, was killed by a 19-year-old man who knocked on his door, busted through, and accidentally shot him as he was trying to tie him up with one hand while holding a gun in the other. The gun went off. He had a 9-month-old and his wife was in the room. The young man had no intention of killing; my brother-in-law got killed because the guy happened to have a gun. Thousands of innocent people in U.S. are killed every year because guns go off accidentally. The thing that makes news is these mass shootings, but gun violence is around all the time.

Should gun ownership be curtailed?
I’ve always said you can’t take away guns from people. The NRA is just too powerful, too ingrained, but there’s no reason why a semi-automatic weapon or assault weapon should be sold to the public. Why somebody needs to have one in their home makes no sense. Even for hunting, you don’t need to have a magazine. Maybe (outlawing semi-automatics) wouldn’t have prevented what happened to me, but you never know. You certainly wouldn’t have had the type of mass killing you had recently at the school and at the movie theater.

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Do you own a gun?
No, I’ve never owned a gun. I’m aware how guns kill innocent people … and recall situations where a gun went off by accident and a child got killed.

Do you think violence in film, TV and videogames provokes violence in the real world?
I don’t believe (violence in media) causes people to do these crazy things. I believe in First Amendment rights. You can’t chill those rights of free speech. But we need stronger protection with mental-health rules as well as with gun rules. I don’t believe (violence in media) is a factor, though I’m not happy that this kid, Adam Lanza, was home and spending all this time on videogames.

Is there a separate issue with games compared to TV and film?
Maybe. Videogames show how many people you can kill. Should they be curtailed? I don’t know. Maybe you can have criteria as to (age groups) who can play those games, but if they’re in their 20s or older you can’t have curtailment at that age. How do you stop a crazy person?

What do you think motivates those people?
I don’t like the fact that the media exploits them, gives them their 15 minutes of fame. You want to know as much as you can, but I believe that when you have these mass murders, they shouldn’t show their photos. . People want fame, they want to be known throughout history. I see that in regular litigation, where people bring up ridiculous claims, or lawyers get involved in cases that are absurd.

Why does liberal, antigun Hollywood produce so much violent content?
Antigun, antiviolence people are not necessarily the same as those involved in producing and starring in very violent films. But there’s a distinction between doing a movie where people are shot and killed, and believing that people should have semiautomatic weapons in their homes. I have clients — actors and actresses — who are anti-violence and will not do certain types of movies. For example, some will not participate in a movie where a woman is violated. But actors will want to be in a violent film they see as a great film, like, for example, “No Country for Old Men.”

What do you make of the calls to deport Piers Morgan because he strongly opposes gun ownership? Are there grounds for that?
It shows how radical some people are. I’m not an immigration lawyer but I’m pretty sure the answer is there’s no basis for this. It goes to the First Amendment. Whether you’re pro-gun or anti-gun, everyone has a right to speak.

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