By Jenny Wilson
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D- NY) and his cousin, actress-comedian Amy Schumer, teamed up Monday to revive a gun control movement that faltered in Congress after the Dec. 2012 Newtown massacre.
The Schumers held a press conference in New York after a movie theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana last month, during a showing of Amy Schumer's lastest romantic comedy, Trainwreck.
"These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence -- I can promise you this: they will not be my last," Amy Schumer said, according to a statement from the Senator's office.
Schumer's remarks followed an open letter she received from Sarah Clements, a college student and the daughter of a Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who survived the mass shooting.
"All of this may seem like it's playing out on your computer--a safe world away from where you live and work in Hollywood. But as a woman, a daughter and sister, a national figure, and a role model, you have a real stake in gun violence happening all around you," Clements wrote in the letter, posted on Medium.com. "Your movie--which was so well-received, so brilliant, so you--will now forever have this shooting attached to it."
Schumer replied to Clements in a tweet Saturday. "Don't worry, I'm on it. You'll see."
At the press conference Monday, the Schumers called for an expanded background check system for gun purchases -- a policy fix that, immediately after Newtown, was viewed by gun control advocates as low-hanging fruit. Months later, it was defeated in the U.S. Senate.
"We need a background check system without holes and fatal flaws. We need one with accurate information that protecs us like a firewall should," Amy Schumer said. "The critics scoff and say, 'there is no way to stop crazy people from doing crazy things.' They're wrong."
The background check proposal that failed after Newtown would have closed loopholes in federal law that do not require background checks on private sales -- for example, those that occur at gun shows or over the Internet.
The Schumers also introduced a three-pronged proposal at the press conference Monday that focuses on reducing gun violence by fixing problems in the mental health system. The proposal:
1. Allows the Department of Justice to reward or penalize states based on how well they submit records into the background check system. This was a direct response to the Charleston, S.C. mass shooting in June. A mistake in the background check system allowed gunman Dylan Roof to purchase a firearm.
2. Urges Congress to fully-fund the federal Department of Human Services's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
3. Asks the Justice Department to issue a report comparing states' standards for involuntary commitment and to recommend best practies. According to Schumer, the gunman in last month's movie theater shooting in Lafayette could purchase a gun legally due to Georgia's laws regarding involuntary commitment, and whether it precludes someone from purchasing a gun.
(c)2015 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)