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Former President Barack Obama, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Matthew McConaughey joined together in New York Tuesday to condemn and lift up solutions to the continuing issue of gun violence on the 10th anniversary of the school shooting in Sandy Hook.
Speaking at the Sandy Hook Promise Benefit, a night honoring an organization started by parents of the victims that trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence, Iger said preventing shootings before they happen “should be among our highest priorities.” The recently reappointed Disney CEO was honored for his support of the organization’s Start with Hello initiative, which works to combat social isolation.
“As a grandfather, as a father, as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, I believe there is no greater or more important task than ensuring the safety and well-being of our children,” Iger said.
“Those of us who are in positions to affect change, whether it’s by influencing laws of shaping culture or supporting organizations on the frontlines, I think we have an extra responsibility,” he added.
The evening held special poignance for Obama, who recalled Dec. 14, 2012 as the “single darkest day” of his presidency and spoke of his despair at the lack of congressional action that followed. He later recited the names of every child and adult killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.
“Perhaps the most bitter disappointment of my time in office, the closest I came to being cynical, was the utter failure of Congress to respond in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings,” Obama said. “To see almost the entire GOP, but also a decent number of Democrats equivocate and hem and haw and filibuster and ultimately bend yet again to pressure from the gun lobby.”
He then went on to decry the continuation of gun violence in the country, citing the statistic that there has not been a week in 2022 without a mass shooting in the U.S.
“We are unique among nations in tolerating the proliferation of guns on our streets and allowing civilians to routinely purchase high-powered weapons of war. Nobody else does this,” he continued. “Those who profit from this Congress know how to feed our fear and exploit our divisions and distract us to specious arguments that carnage and mayhem are somehow the price of our freedom. And even though most of us know better, even though not just the majority of Americans, but the majority of responsible gun owners understand that something fundamental needs to change, collectively we still refuse to act on what the data and common sense tell us.”
While saying that he has hope for a cessation in violence, thanks to the work of organizations such as the Sandy Hook Promise, as well as the passage of President Joe Biden’s recent gun violence legislation, Obama said that he still finds himself getting angry. He urged others to use that anger to act.
“I will admit, I still get angry every time I read about the latest senseless shooting, whether it is in a church or a synagogue, in a grocery store or on a college campus or in a home or on a city street,” Obama said.
“The good news is that, as of late, I sense that slowly, steadily, the tide may be turning,” he continued.
While acknowledging the anger and sadness that surrounds the issue, McConaughey, who has been an outspoken advocate for gun reform in the wake of the Ulvade school shooting, marveled at the response of the parents behind the Sandy Hook Promise and called for greater attention to be paid to the methods being taken to combat gun violence.
“I think it’s time that we start selling, evangelizing and celebrating prevention,” McConaughey said.
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