“Americans are fed up with gun violence.”
That was the prevailing sentiment at a fundraiser hosted by Karen Elson, Gus Wenner, Rachel Antonoff, and Lee Foster in New York City on June 8 at Electric Lady Studios. The intimate event brought folks from the fashion, entertainment, and art worlds together to discuss the ways in which anyone—from Remi Wolf to Christopher Abbott or Mark Ronson and Grace Gummer, all of whom were in attendance Thursday evening—can contribute to the fight for sensible gun control laws in the United States.
Each of the hosts (and indeed, many of the guests) had been touched by gun violence in some way. In her opening statements, Elson—who had flown to New York from her home in Nashville at 4 AM that day especially for the event—discussed her own personal experience with The Covenant School shooting in Tennessee, which left six dead in March of this year, including three 9-year-old children.
“I received a text from my son’s school that his school was on lockdown,” she told the crowd assembled in the studio, which also included Christian Siriano and the artist Harold Ancart. “I’d heard on the news that there was a school shooting but we didn’t know which school. I texted my son and asked him if he was okay, and the text I got back was: ‘Mom, I’m so fucking scared. I’ve heard there is a shooting at my friend’s school and I’m scared that my friends are dead.’ What do you say to your child? ‘It’s going to be okay…’ But you don’t know if it’s going to be okay.”
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness—with which Americans are far too familiar when it comes to gun violence—were part of the reason that Wenner, chief executive officer of Rolling Stone, spearheaded the event alongside supermodel Elson, her boyfriend Foster, and Antonoff. He also brought in John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, for a conversation on what everyday folks can do to aid gun control efforts.
“We wanted to get a group of interesting and interested, engaged people from different backgrounds with some amount of influence to use their mediums, their platforms, their art forms, to make a difference,” Wenner said.
Feinblatt described Everytown as a “counterweight to the NRA,” the pro-gun organization that holds immense amounts of clout and political pull, but whose influence and contacts in the White House are waning.
“The school shootings in particular have hit parents in the gut,” he explained. “The most damaging thing the NRA has done is convince people that guns make you safer, despite mountains of evidence indicating otherwise. So are we going to rid this country of guns? Probably not. But we need to use our platforms, our influence, our money—because movements aren’t powered without money—to change public perception of guns.”
Feinblatt suggested calling, texting, or writing letters to local legislators pushing for sensible gun legislation, and checking on where candidates in the upcoming presidential season stand on gun control. “The way to do it is for people to keep raising their hands in a way that feels natural for them,” he added.
Everytown is currently working to pass gun control legislation in key states, while also coming up with new ideas on how to make the United States safer. For instance, Feinblatt said, the organization is working on the idea of palm print recognition for guns, which allows only the rightful owner of the firearm to discharge it. “We have facial recognition technology for our phones—why not guns?” The group is also in talks with the Defense Department, urging them to keep tabs on the most common types of firearms. “If a manufacture’s assault weapons keep showing up at crime scenes, the Department of Defense should have that manufacturer cease operations,” he said.
Elson—whose daughter with Jack White, Scarlett Teresa White, also attended the event—spoke on her experience as a Brit living in a red state. “You see people with guns in their pockets all the time,” she said of Tennesse. “As much as I love this country, it’s a part of life. But the one thing I have learned living here is that, sometimes, you have to break bread with people you share very different values with because it’s the only way you get things done.” Still, she added, “I do think the devastation associated with gun violence atrocities might be the one thing that all rational people can agree on.”
For more information on Everytown and to donate to the organization, visit everytown.org.