Jenna Fischer Speaks Out Against Gun Violence: "We Need to Erase This Stigma of Asking Questions"
The actress discussed what she describes as "an individual cause."
When Jenna Fischer was living in London last year with her family for six months while shooting the show You, Me and the Apocalypse, news back home in America seemed grim and continued to be dominated by tragic mass shootings. Her colleagues, Fischer remembered, would quiz her on what was really going on over there.
"They would ask me, ‘Is it really true, can you just go into a store and buy a gun? Why? Why do you allow this? Aren’t you scared?’ I explained the Second Amendment and tried to answer their questions, but as the reports increased, I became more unnerved by what felt like an epidemic of violence in our country that didn't seem to affect other countries that have been exposed to the same movies and video games," she explained before attending the Brady Center's annual Bear Awards on May 4 at the Four Seasons Los Angeles. "I started to investigate why that may be."
Fischer's research led her to the Brady Center. "They are a very moderate, responsible and comprehensive organization, and I decided that was the group I wanted to work with," said the actress, dressed in a cap-sleeve dress by Rubin Singer. So she joined a number of actors and industry types at the organization's event, which honored Bill Clinton, Oscar-winning producer Dede Gardner and philanthropist David Bohnett.
Prior to the gala, Fisher opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her perspective on the issue of gun violence in America and what can be done to curb the mass shootings.
You mentioned investigating solutions. What are some that you found to be most feasible?
Here's something I didn’t know when people were asking about gun laws in America. I thought, well, we have that background-check law, why isn’t that solving the problem? We passed a law where you have to have mandatory background checks, and criminals shouldn’t be getting guns, but what I didn’t know was that law didn’t include Internet gun sales or gun sales at gun shows and that those sales make up 40 percent of all gun sales. So 40 percent of all gun sales have no background checks, so if you’re a terrorist, you can just come to America and buy a gun on the Internet. So all the responsible, well-meaning gun owners are going to their gun dealer and doing their background checks, but the criminals are just getting in the other lines and buying their guns the other way. I thought that the single best, most immediate thing we could do would be to finish the job that [the Brady Act] started. Having background checks on all gun sales seems like a totally reasonable thing to me.
It seems as though Hollywood is slow to get behind the issue of gun violence. Is it something you discuss with your peers?
You know, it’s such a weird question for me to answer because I am an actor, but I don’t consider myself a Hollywood insider. I don’t consider myself a part of [that] group. This, for me, is a very individual cause, and when I decide to commit to something, I commit and I follow it through. My peers are the moms in the pickup lines at my son’s school, and I make sure to say things like, before I drop my son off on a playdate, I say, "Do you have a gun in your house? And how do you keep it stored?" It's the same thing if I drop my son off on a playdate and I see a swimming pool, I’ll say, "Do you have a gate for that?" I feel like asking those questions is OK. We need to erase this stigma of asking questions to protect our children.
It seems so common-sense, but I would imagine a lot of people don't do that.
I got drawn into this issue through the mass reporting of mass shootings, but those don’t even comprise the majority of gun deaths in America. There's a lot of crime guns on our street that could be off our street if we shut down these bad-apple gun dealers — licensed gun dealers that sell to criminals. We should shut them down. It’s that phrase "one bad apple ruins the bunch" — well 5 percent of gun dealers are creating a horrible stigma for the 95 percent of business owners who are doing business by the book, and we need to shut down the bad-apple gun dealers who are putting guns in the street and in the hands of criminals by not doing background checks and selling to people who don’t pass the background checks. You don’t need a new law for that, you just need to shut them down.
Let's talk about the election. Hillary Clinton has been supportive of new restrictions on guns in America, while Donald Trump hasn't been as vocal. Does that make you nervous about this election?
If you look at the people that are still in this race, as of this interview: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — if you are a single-issue voter, then Hillary Clinton is the person on this issue that has done the most, in terms of making progress on this area. If this is the single issue that you would be wanting to use for your voting, then that would be it.