How US Politicians And Hollywood Can Unite For Gun Control
Recently, I was at the Hollywood Bowl, a Los Angeles venue where you can enjoy music under the stars. It was a celebration of Tchaikovsky.
I was seated next to a gentleman, and it was our first meeting. His eyes told a story, not Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," but more like "Sleeping Beauty" or the awakening of a giant.
The music filled that space, and the entire sky, with its soft tones and jarring beats. It was a flurry of fireworks evolving into sounds and visions of gunshots, bloodied hands and lost lives.
With a preference for being defined as a compassionate human being, a father and a husband, the gentle giant was Gerald Levin, the former Chairman of Time Warner.
Levin's life is no fairytale. His son, Jonathan Levin, an unassuming teacher in the Bronx, was gunned down and murdered by a single shot to the head, from a former student on June 2, 1997.
“Every day, it feels like it was yesterday,” Levin said.
Time, ironically and absurdly, stands still for Levin.
“I live in a state of loss, thinking about my son, his last moments, his thoughts and his final breath. Every bullet is personal for me,” he explained.
Jonathan Levin's dreams ended instantly, shamefully and unnecessarily.
Last week, movie ticket holders in Lafayette, LA, who were preparing to enjoy the witty and hilarious humor of Amy Schumer in "Trainwreck," were struck with a series of gunshots that rifled through the audience.
Three people were murdered, and nine others were injured.
There was no punch line. There was only blood, death and tragedy at the hand of a gunman.
We now know, or think we know, that the shooting was not random, but the target of a misogynist seeking to intentionally support his anti-feminist and anti-Semitic agenda through massacre.
Amy Schumer tweeted in response:
"My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana."
As I sat there with Levin, I realized that hearts, truly broken, do not heal.
"Trainwreck" will always be associated with tragic loss for those who were there, and for the family and friends who were affected by this horrific event.
Three years ago, at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, CO, we endured "one of the deadliest shootings in US history." Twelve were murdered, and 58 were wounded that night. The lives lost there will not rise again.
Each year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence.
The cost of gun violence is estimated at $229 billion per year, with "$8.6 billion in direct expenses such as for emergency and medical care."
Most shooting deaths occur without media attention, and the interest in mass shootings is short-lived.
When will it stop? When will we decide we've had enough? Will we each have to lose a son, daughter, sister, mother, friend or lover before we comprehend and absorb the agony of loss?
Will we wait for the next congregation to be gunned down during prayer in South Carolina? Must we lose more children in Sandy Hook?
The music played on, and a harpist momentarily soothed our thoughts.
We were in seats provided by Walter Beran, a businessman who, among other things, sat on the board of trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
Beran was known to quote Percy Bysshe Shelley as part of his life mission, believing that:
“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own.”
Astonishingly, he passed away in an LA hospital of natural causes that same evening.
Levin and I left that concert inspired and ready for revolution.
We ask that you, in the memory of Jonathan M. Levin (age 31), Grace McDonnell (age 6), Gordon Cowden (age 51), Clementa Pinckney (age 41), Jillian Johnson (age 33) and so many others, join with us to condemn and put a stop to gun violence.
After the "Trainwreck" shooting, Judd Apatow said, “We, as a country, need to find a way to do better.”
To do better, we have to be better. To be better, we have to take action.
Levin says, “We have an absolute obligation to protect ourselves and our loved ones from bullets.” I agree.
We are forming a bipartisan, private sector commission to develop recommendations, and to ensure that the sound of gunshots doesn't fade with the headlines.
To Generation-Y, we need your skill and motivation to capture attention, to use social media as a tool for motivation and change and to force recognition and be heard. Please come forward.
We applaud Schumer for joining with her cousin, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to call for stricter gun control.
To Hollywood, we need your creativity and imagination to develop innovative solutions.
Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers, we feel your pain, and we are calling on you.
Disney, News Corp., Paramount, Sony, Time Warner and Viacom, we are calling on you. Jennifer Hudson, Michael Jordon, Nicki Minaj, Charlize Theron, Sofia Vergara, Venus and Serena Williams, we feel your pain, and we're calling on you.
To American corporations, we need your leadership, support and leverage to make a difference.
Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Hulu, Netflix and Twitter, we are calling on you.
With every bullet, time stands still. Let us now move forward together.