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Music industry voices support, criticism for gun control

March for our Lives

This past weekend hundreds of thousands came together in protest of gun violence in America, demanding that lawmakers support legislation for stricter gun control in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting.

People took to the streets in Washington D.C. with signs and slogans, unified in opposition of gun violence in our culture. The event also included performances by Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Common, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Vic Mensa, Andra Day, Jennifer Hudson, and Ben Platt. Some other noteworthy celebrities in attendance included Kayne West, Kim Kardashian-West, George Clooney, Amy Schumer, and Sir Paul McCartney, who spoke about his longtime friend John Lennon, who was shot and killed outside of the nearby Dakota hotel in 1980.

“One of my best friends was killed by gun violence,” McCartney said in an interview with CNN. “It’s important to me not just to march today but to take action tomorrow.”

However, the march also drew criticism through the guise of rock and rollers such as Jesse Hughes, the frontman of the Eagles of Death Metal, who referred to students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as “disgusting vile abusers of the dead.”

Hughes, having himself survived a mass shooting back in 2015, offered a differing opinion about gun control. In a post via Instagram, he said, “look how well civil rights abuses as it concerns firearms helped to protect me and my friends in Paris,” referring to when terrorists attacked the stage during an EODM performance at Le Bataclan in Paris, taking the lives of 89 people including the band’s merchandising manager.

“As the survivor of a mass shooting, I can tell you from first-hand experience that all of you protesting and taking days off from school insult the memory of those who were killed and abuse and insult me and every other lover of liberty by your every action.”

According to The Guardian, three of the Instagram posts have since been deleted from his account. Instead of apologizing for the comments, Hughes followed-up acknowledging that he shouldn’t mix music and politics.

“I’ve made a rule and my musical life that everyone should check their politics at the door,” Hughes said via Instagram. “I’ve always believed in the motto I may not agree with what you’re saying but I’ll die for your right to say it. Saddens me to see so many not have this motto for the same… but this is my Instagram for Rock’n’Roll and I think I’m going to keep it that way… I’m going to start a second Instagram for where I shall put my political beliefs.”

Atlanta rapper Killer Mike was also the center of internet controversy over an interview with the National Rifle Association in which he advocates gun ownership as a means of self-defense. In response to the NRA’s use of the video, which he claims was “used as a weapon” against the March for our Lives protests across the country, the 42-year-old rapper went on to Twitter to issue a two-part apology and express his support for the campaign.

Killer Mike has been an outspoken advocate for gun control and reform for a very long time, which prompted his brother-in-arms El-P, the other half of the rap duo Run the Jewels, to share his thoughts on the issue of gun control and how those in opposition of common-sense reform are not on the “same side.”

Several within the entertainment industry itself also expressed support for the youth-led movement. According to Viacom’s company blog, its support for the student-led movement began on March 14th, when all Viacom networks went dark for 17 minutes during the National School Walkout, a mass coordinated effort to denounce the inaction and indifference that have accompanied the stubborn persistence of gun violence.

Viacom is a media conglomerate which operates the production and distribution of Paramount Pictures, and networks such as BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, TV Land, VH1, as well as record labels and streaming music services. 

“Once again young people are at the forefront of driving change,” said MTV President Chris McCarthy.

According to the blog, MTV in cooperation with the NAACP and local youth organizations sent approximately 17 buses of young people from Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and other communities suffering from intractable gun violence during this weekend’s rally in Washington D.C.

To get involved in the fight for gun control or to learn more information check out this website for 30 different ways in which you can take action.

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