Celebrities, shooting victims and civil rights leaders gather on gun control

Comedian Chris Rock sounds off on gun control with other celebrities on Feb. 6. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Singer Tony Bennett and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, stand listening to a speaker at the gun control event. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Kerry Kennedy delivers a speech about her father, as Martin Luther King III looks on at the event on Feb. 6. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
The group of celebrities, shooting victims and civil leaders spoke out against the use of military-style weapons. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Celebrities from the entertainment world, survivors of gun violence and family members of victims gathered on Capitol Hill to rally support for a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks on gun buyers.

“I’m just here to support the president of the United States,” comedian Chris Rock declared.

There’s opposition in Congress, even among Democrats, to the president’s call for a ban on military-style assault weapons.

Describing the president as the country’s dad, Rock insisted, “When your dad says something you listen, and when you don’t, it usually bites you in the ass later on.”

Legendary singer, 86-year-old Tony Bennett, with a heartbroken spirit in his voice, said “I still haven’t gotten over Connecticut,” referring to the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Assault weapons, they were invented for war, they shouldn’t be on our streets, here,” Bennett said.

The president is asking Congress to restore the ban on assault weapons and limit ammunition clips to ten rounds. But opponents argue, a 10-year ban between 1994 and 2004 failed to reduce gun violence.

The gun measure drawing broader support in Congress would require universal background checks on gun buyers.

Actress Anna Deveare Smith, who made her mark on TV’s “West Wing,” called on lawmakers to approve the ban.

“Congress must now act on a sensible plan to keep assault weapons out of our neighborhoods, out of our schools,” Deveare Smith said.

Joining the list of celebrities in the call for greater gun control was Stephen Barton, a survivor of last July’s shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

“I didn’t come to this issue of my own choosing,” said Barton, who was shot in the face, neck, chest and arms in the movie theater attack that killed 12.

Kerry Kennedy invoked the memory of her assassinated father Sen. Robert Kennedy, urging Congress to tighten the gun laws.

And Martin Luther King III, son of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The majority of Americans want to see action taken.”

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