How anti-gun is Hollywood and the entertainment industry?

Here is from today’s news:

The sweeping gun control measure signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and hailed by Democratic leaders has a surprising critic: Hollywood.

Officials in the movie and television industry say the new laws could prevent them from using the lifelike assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that they have employed in shows like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and films like “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Twenty-seven pilots, television and feature projects, including programs like “Blue Bloods” and “Person of Interest,” are now in production in New York State using assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Industry workers say that they need to use real weapons for verisimilitude, that it would be impractical to try to manufacture fake weapons that could fire blanks, and that the entertainment industry should not be penalized accidentally by a law intended as a response to mass shootings.

One source added:

“Weapons are part of our history as a culture as humans,” said Ryder Washburn, vice president of the Specialists, a leading supplier of firearms for productions that is based in Manhattan. “To tell stories, you need them.”


“Weapons are part of our history as a culture as humans,” said Ryder Washburn, vice president of the Specialists, a leading supplier of firearms for productions that is based in Manhattan. “To kill people, you need them.”

-anonymous libertarian supportive of 2nd amendment

an anonymous libertarian supportive of the 2nd amendment would say "To defend yourself, you need them" or "To defend your property from a tyrannical government, you need them". Trust me, as my alias implies, I've heard those two repeated ad nauseum.

>'assault weapons' with super deadly barrel shrouds
>'high capacity' bulletglock magazine clips
>is AR15 with 20-30 round standard capacity magazine.

>dangerous hacker protocol that bypasses Internet security, like IRC
>uses 'Distributed Hash Table' that lets hackers communicate with boats, GUIs in Visual Basic
>is BitTorrent


News media, never change.

To those who haven't seen it, this is a decent overview of what is and isn't an assault weapon and why:

If one did want to restrict guns based on capabilities what might be suitable metrics to aim for? Max possible shots that can be fired per minute? Magazine capacity?

This is assuming we think a restriction at some point is valid. I've no argument to offer to those who think even a howitzer or grenades ought to be legal.

This is a great question. My understanding is that Australia, which is often cited as a successful weapons ban, banned semi-automatics (including already ones already purchased, which had to be turned in). That is effectively a firing-rate ban. It is also my understanding that the majority of firearms sold in the US today are semi-automatics, so doing that in the US really would mean taking away guns from a vast swath of gun owners.

Which capabilities? There's almost too many to choose from. Most of the relevant metrics I can think of are already restricted (select fire, explosive weapons, etc.)

One of the oldest modern guns still made (single action revolvers--the side arm in many westerns) can be shot as faster than most machine guns if the operator is skilled enough:
What is the goal of a restriction on capabilities? The majority of gun crime is carried out with very low feature guns (inexpensive pistols with few features and poor durability).

Interesting that it is Republican lawmakers (according to that article) opposing any form of Hollywood exception for props and fakes.

It sounds like Hollywood doesn't consider fakes a good enough substitute. They want props that can fire blanks, which means they are real guns that can fire real bullets, too. Writing a law that says "no one can have this thing, except my party's culturally/economically important clients" doesn't sound so fair.

They have to fire blanks, otherwise there would be no source of energy to cycle the mechanism. Machine guns are powered by either the recoil or the gas pressure generated by firing.

Why isn't the law satisfied if they somehow irreversibly plug the barrel? Or is that not possible?

Machine guns have easily replaceable barrels because they wear out fairly quickly, so that's not a solution.

They have an incentive to make the proposal as unreasonable as possible; that way there will be more opposition and it will be less likely to become law.

From Republicans' overall opposition to the gun control measure, it doesn't follow that they should favor an exception being carved out. There are multiple legitimate reasons they could take such a position:

Best Possible Result - One's preferred option may be no law. But a complete law still might be a better outcome than half a law. Suppose I don't want a road built from point A to point B. If I don't get my way, should I compromise and build half a road?

Fairness - If a law is going to exist, it should apply to everyone. It is unfair to create an exemption for a politically well-connected group.

Strategic - Maybe they want to make the bill/law unworkable, so that it won't pass or won't last. This is usually seen as a cynical move (aiding a worse result in order to achieve political success for themselves), but it is not necessarily so. Strategic decisions can be used to aid a principled position.

Or maybe it's just another skirmish in the culture war against the Godless Heathens in Hollywood?

Of course it could be that the Republicans are doing this for various sinister motives. Since one can't actually read their minds, what one thinks about that tends to depend on one's political leanings.

I just wanted to point out that it is possible to take such a position on principle.

Possible, yes. Plausible, no.

"But Republicans, in particular, are not eager to revisit the issue. The Republican leader in the State Senate, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, said recently that he would oppose an exemption for movie productions. “I don’t believe they should be treated any differently,” Mr. Skelos said in an interview with The Buffalo News. "

What's sinister about that?

If republicans were smart, they would pass a hollywood exemption that states authors of youtube videos are exempt from the law.

+1. That's media democracy!

Let me change the quote by replacing a single word (with accompanying grammatical changes) -

'“Torture is part of our history as a culture as humans,” said Ryder Washburn, vice president of the Specialists, a leading supplier of firearms for productions that is based in Manhattan. “To tell stories, you need it.”

And lo and behold, in contemporary American entertainment, the torturers are heroes, whose torturing is approvingly remarked upon by a Supreme Court justice.

The fact that torture is actually forbidden by the Constitution seems to be a piffling matter, especially compared to the need for American citizens to outfit themselves with 100 round magazines for self defense (available here for under 200 dollars - - though shipment to several states requires additional paperwork).

What is this supposed to prove? Torture and guns are not analogous. Washburn is not advocating that harm be inflicted on people.

It is impressive that you can create a total non sequitur by changing only one word.

'Torture and guns are not analogous.'

Of course they are, in the framework of the quote, as both torture and guns 'are part of our history as a culture as humans.' Both involve violence and death, and someone defending the use of torture in storytelling sounds barbaric - as does someone defending weapons in entertainment. It just brings out how societies shift. And how that shifting is not exactly due to chance. Or has anyone noticed a reduction in lethal weaponry in recent Hollywood offerings?

America has jumped onto the torture bandwagon in a big way, ignoring both its own history and laws, not to mention international treaties. And yet, the depiction of torture is generally considered a good or necessary thing these days, much like the depiction of weapons is considered good or necessary, as part of our culture - at least when it is the good guys using it. Often, the torturer and the person holding the gun are one and the same in these Hollywood fantasies ('24' more or less comes to mind in this connection, but only due to the ground breaking feat of turning its hero into a torturing hero lauded by a Supreme Court justice).

There are lots and lots of things that involve violence and death. Hell, the state involves violence and death. Can we tie increased preference for government regulation to increased preference for government torture and seeing guns in movies?


Torture is bad. I agree. That is not the point.

The problem is that by changing the quote you change it from defending a depiction of violence to defending actual violence.

Washburn is not defending the freedom of TV productions to actually shoot people, only to tell realistic stories about shootings. But in your modified version, he is defending actual torture.

What is this supposed to prove? That p_a is a troll?

I live in the Entertainment Industry belt in Southern California. My impression is that my neighbors are armed to the teeth. Back in February, I reviewed nine possible reasons why Beverly Hills-area liberals love guns:

Nice list. I'll add a point:

Perhaps celebrities have more to steal from hence attractive targets?

Especially music stars, who wear a lot of jewelry. Rappers get arrested a lot for carrying guns, but it's not unreasonable for somebody whose image requires him to sport a lot of gold and stay out late at night to carry a means of defending himself from muggers. I presume Jay-Z employs bodyguards, but less wealthy hip hop artists might prefer self-defense.

I included a sample of celebrities who had New York City concealed carry permits in this article:

Plaxico Burress would like to apply...

That's good, if he'd gotten a permit, he'd have likely had to learn that holsters are the safety on many carry pistols and modern firearms need to be severely damaged to fire when dropped but are quite easy to negligently fire when attempting to catch them.

“Weapons are part of our history as a culture as humans”......sponsorship and product placement too. Movie productions go for sweet deals with firearms manufacturers.

From the article:

The Glock story offers an apt case study for how gun manufacturers use shoot-em-up flicks to flog their brands. In Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, reporter Paul Barrett argues that the ubiquity of the Austrian pistol was in part a consequence of the business boom Smith & Wesson experienced after its .44 Magnum was treated to its extended Clint Eastwood soliloquy. Glock, Barrett explained, wanted "its Dirty Harry moment."

So it began offering firearms on the CHEAP, if not FREE, to Hollywood prop houses, the specially licensed firms that provide weaponry and training for movie sets.

"Just follow the money"

"Industry workers say that [people with legitimate uses for guns] should not be penalized accidentally by a law intended as a response to mass shootings."

Have NRA "extremists" infiltrated the ranks of the entertainment industry?

The lesson here is more about hysterical arm waving masquerading as legislation, and the potential hangover effect on the NY economy resulting from Sfachim Jr.'s ramming a poorly drafted, undebated piece of soupy dreck through the legislature. I mean, they didn't even think to put a basic police carve out into the original law. Pathetic.

Even if you believe that most, if not all, gun regulation is much more costly than it's worth (and I certainly do), wouldn't the use of realistic model guns and special effects solve most of this problem?

Someone who knows more about the Japanese film industry than I do might be able to speak to how this is dealt with in (live action) Japanese cinema.

Spielberg could use CGI to replace walkie talkies with guns?

The one thing school killers have in common is not firearms or the type of firearm but rather an obsession with violent media. So, these Holllywood-types are arguing for a repeal of the only effective measure in the law, i.e., the banning of the aggrandizement of firearms in violent media.

It is interesting to see shows set in NYC, even when strictly about the police like Blue Bloods, ignore the gun laws, often showing "good guys" not law enforcement using firearms with no comment by the TV police commissioner. Not to mention the frequent misuse of firearms by the TV police to settle personal grievances. Oddly, the gun laws they use in their stories are very much like laws where gun control isn't so strong. I guess you gotta tell a story...

The one thing school killers have in common is not firearms or the type of firearm but rather an obsession with violent media.

Can you put some more meat into this?

About the one thing in common is that they are depressed. But depressed teenagers are a dime-a-dozen.

With the exception of anti-government types and what appear to be child molesters, media (both fictional and news coverage of other mass killings) are a frequent link (a selection from ones I could remember):

Frontier Middle School:
Loukaitis has also stated that he tried to model his life after the novel Rage's protagonist Charlie Decker, who kills two teachers and takes his algebra class hostage. He quoted a line from "The Basketball Diaries" after shooting his Algebra teacher.

Harris and Klebold were both avid fans of KMFDM, an industrial band led by German multi-instrumentalist Sascha Konietzko. It was revealed that lyrics to KMFDM songs ("Son of a Gun", "Stray Bullet", "Waste") were posted on Harris' website, and that the date of the massacre, April 20, coincided with both the release date of the album Adios and the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Harris noted the coincidence of the album's title and release date in his journal.

Sandy Hook:
Police believe that Lanza extensively researched earlier mass shootings, including the 2011 Norway attacks and the 2006 Amish school shooting at a one-room school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

Port Arthur Massacre:
The lawyer later released a book outlining that Bryant was motivated largely by the media surrounding the then recent Dunblane school massacre. From the moment he was captured he continually wanted to know how many people he had killed and seemed impressed by the number.

Oh, so it's "from my own memory, it sure seems like the killers did X a lot!"

More that I don't have an encyclopedic memory of mass murder events, so only recent or ones that impacted people I know stick (and those mentioned in the quick research I did of the primary group). Feel free to list others and I'll see what's out there.

The Secret Service has already done this.

Page 19 gets into attackers. Besides being boys, there's not much else in common. Their race and family make-up matches those of America. Grades didn't have a pattern, nor did their social groups.

Page 22 gets into their interest in violence. 27% were interested in violent movies, 24% in violent books, 12% in violent video games. The biggest category was violence in their own writings, at 37%.

Looking into enjoyment of violent media is a very poor data set. The ROC curve for that would look abominable.

Interesting, thanks! I'm not too surprised to see that interest in violent media was the same percentage as prior gun use, and less surprised that political talk focuses on only one of the two.


I'd caution you not to make broad statements about "school killers". For instance, David Cullen has written a book on Columbine that states that most of what we "know" about Columbine is myth. Read the FAQ on his website. It's amazing what we "know" to be true about these events.

The Australian film industry uses professional, licenced armourers, who strictly control access to and use of weapons on set. Provisions were made to gradfather in existing weapons used in the film industry with tight controls on their use and storage requirements. New weapons can be brought into the country by the film industry, but they have to be completely inactivated (no firing pin and filled with concrete) and so can't fire blanks. It is expected that in the future blank firing weapons will be replaced with digital effects. This is currently expensive, but firing blank weapons on set is also quite expensive, so the change over will probably happen sooner than many would expect.

Ronald Reagan was deaf in one ear from a blank being fired in a prop gun on a set.

Brandon Lee was killed by a mixup with a real shell and a blank, and Jon-Erik Hexum was killed by a blank with no projectile.
You could do worse than have a firearms expert on the set.

How anti-gun is Hollywood and the entertainment industry?

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