Long Island raised actress Amy Schumer became emotional Monday at a news conference with her cousin Sen. Charles Schumer, who is tapping into her star power to rally public support for stricter gun control.
"This is extremely personal," said the stand up comedian, 34, whose movie "Trainwreck" was being screened in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater two weeks ago when a gunman stood up and killed two women and wounded nine.
The shooter, John Russell Houser, 59, had a history of violent behavior. He killed himself after fatally shooting Jillian E. Johnson, 33, a toy store owner and musician, and Mayci Breaux, 21, an honor student at Louisiana State University in Eunice.
"I'm not even going to say his name,'' said Amy Schumer of the gunman. "This should not have happened. It's a tragic, senseless and horrifying action from this man who should not have been able to put his hands on a gun in the first place.''
Both Schumers spoke at a news conference at the senator's Manhattan office. Amy Schumer, who grew up in Rockville Centre and graduated from South Side High School, vowed to push for stricter enforcement of background checks.
"We can not allow dangerous people to continue to get their hands on guns . . . We can make sure that the mentally ill and felons do not get their hands on guns with enforced background checks. The time is now,'' she said. "This is the first time I have made public comments on this matter and I can promise you it won't be the last.''
The senator, a Democrat from New York and second cousin to the comedian and actress, helped sponsor the "Brady Act'' 20 years ago that requires background checks for gun buyers. But with increased sales of guns on the Internet and at gun shows "we should do everything possible to tighten up loop holes,'' he said. "We can't sit back and let mass shooting become commonplace.''
The senator said he will introduce legislation that will provide funding to states to give them incentives to report background checks to a federal database. The legislation would also impose penalties to states that do not comply.
But Tom King, president of the New York State Pistol and Rifle Association, said the proposals appear "redundant." He added: "As usual, it will do nothing to do anything to make the people of the United States safer."
However, longtime gun control advocate and former Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman during the 1993 Long Island Railroad massacre, said she was hopeful the proposal will get through.
"I personally feel that the country is ready for this," said McCarthy. "Maybe the timing is right."