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Amy Schumer Takes on Gun Violence

After a fatal shooting at a showing of her new film, the comedienne teamed up with her cousin, Chuck Schumer, to push for better practices: ‘Enough is enough’

Rachel Shukert
August 05, 2015
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Amy Schumer at a press conference with her cousin U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in New York City, August 3, 2015. Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Amy Schumer at a press conference with her cousin U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in New York City, August 3, 2015. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Some comedians are born great. Some become great while others have greatness thrust about them. In the case of Amy Schumer—currently the world’s most beloved woman (unless she’s overtaken by Elizabeth Warren who gave a barn-burning speech to Republicans in Congress this week amid yet another attempt to defund Planned Parenthood)—the first two are arguable, but the third is becoming clearly apparent. The spotlight of greatness is now on Schumer.

Last month, after a devastating shooting at a Louisiana theater showing Schumer’s new hit film Trainwreck left two young women dead at the hands of a suicidal gunman (he later turned the gun on himself) who had “an issue with feminine rights,” a “heartbroken” Schumer came out swinging, determined to allay the insane scourge of gun violence and shooting deaths in our country. Of course, plenty of entertainers with sizable media platforms use their fame to bring attention to their favorite causes (not to mention regular people who are, a) not bought and paid for by the extreme fringes of the NRA, and b) not completely out of their minds with rage and paranoia).

But as a celebrity, one who’s recently reached an apex in her career, taking on the issue of gun violence, something that Schumer is uniquely placed to do: Her cousin, New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, is about to become the Senate majority leader, and he has long been an advocate for stricter (read: saner) gun laws.

At a joint press conference on Monday, the cousins Schumer announced their intention to team up on this contentious issue. And they were passionate, focused, and determined in a way that might give many advocates of gun control hope for the first time.

“We’re here today to say enough is enough to mass shootings in our schools, our college campuses, our military bases, and even in our movie theaters,” said Amy Schumer. “These shootings have got to stop.” Chuck Schumer, reported Slate

is pushing for a system that financially rewards states that submit all necessary records for the federal background check system—and penalizes those that don’t. He is also pushing for the Department of Justice to examine states’ standards for involuntary commitment to mental health facilities, and come up with recommended best practices.

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that there’s almost nothing Amy Schumer can’t do, and it’s exhilarating to watch the way this comedian has used her outspokenness as a means to illuminate the truths you’re not supposed to say out loud, e.g. the treatment of women in the media and the attitudes many still hold towards women who refuse to fit the traditional molds society has built for them. (Schumer seems to stand in chorus with Jill Soloway.) At every turn, Schumer has managed to highlight the absurdity of conventional wisdom (that 10 Angry Men parody, anyone? Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s last f—able day?), forcing the audience to find ridiculous the attitudes they didn’t even quite realize they held. If she can similarly demystify the ludicrous power of the gun lobby, we might all be vastly better for it. Something might actually get done.

But I found Schumer & Schumer’s double act moving for a reason beyond this faint glimmer of hope on gun legislation. It wasn’t so long ago that Amy Schumer, fame, critical acclaim and all, would be exactly the kind of relative a sitting senator might try to distance himself from; she’d have been too frankly sexual, too controversial, too “feminist.” That we’ve reached a time in American political life that Amy can be seen clearly as the tremendous asset she is, says something about how far we’ve come from the days when a woman merely admitting she’d given a blow job was grounds for criminal shaming. (We all know what I’m talking about.) Maybe the Schumer collaboration is a sign that as a country, we’re finally growing up. Let’s just hope that carries through to the NRA.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.