I confess, I skipped the Oscars this year. As a parent, 90 percent of the movies I watch are kid-oriented, so it’s not like I was rooting for anyone in particular, and I knew I could always catch the highlights on YouTube later. Besides, Hollywood doesn’t seem to like gun owners and NRA members like me these days, so I’m not particularly inclined to give up a Sunday evening to pay tribute to these celebrities when I could be doing something more entertaining—like hanging out with my youngest kids and our two baby goats (way better than watching a Leonardo DiCaprio acceptance speech).
I did see stories indicating a host of celebrities like Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston did their part to make it a night of celebrity activism by wearing bracelets provided by the Brady Campaign emblazoned with the hashtag #ENOUGH. Apparently this stands for “Entertainers Need Our Uniformed Gun Holders,” because as the actors and actresses wearing the bracelets paraded down a red carpet and into a hall, all were protected by an army of uniformed police and private security guards that was described by one insider as resembling a military state. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have the slightest problem with their security setup. I’d never want to deny anyone the security they deserve. It’s just that it’s such a shame so few of those celebrities feel the same way about you and me, because that makes them enormous hypocrites.
It’s not just guns, of course. The Oscars were full of celebrities who jet off to Cannes every year lecturing us about our carbon footprints, for instance. Whatever their cause may have been, there were activist actors ready to use their time at the Oscar podium to tell us what we’re doing wrong with our lives. The only thing the Academy Awards didn’t offer was equal time for moviegoers to respond and help these entertainers check their privilege.
I have several friends who live in Los Angeles who would be happy to explain that they have the same right as those celebrities to be protected by good guys with guns. It just so happens that for my friends, it’s a do-it-yourself job—not one that can be outsourced to a phalanx of expensive armed security personnel. Unfortunately for those living in Los Angeles (and most of coastal California), their local county sheriff doesn’t recognize “self-defense” as a valid reason for someone to obtain a concealed handgun license. Meanwhile, in non-coastal California, where county sheriffs usually view self-defense as a perfectly fine reason to want to carry a firearm, applicants are dealing with backlogs of 10 to 18 months due to the high demand. I’m pretty sure demand would be just as high in Los Angeles as it is in Fresno and San Bernardino if residents knew they could receive “approval” to exercise their right to bear arms.
Many of these anti-gun celebrities swear they’re not anti-gun at all. They’ll claim they’re simply “gun safety” advocates who love the Second Amendment. Yet they never seem to actually advocate for the Second Amendment, self-defense or even real gun safety. They’re not calling for the opening of more ranges in California, or volunteering to cough up some of their millions in order for county sheriffs to hire more staff so they can cut down on the months-long backlog of concealed-carry applicants. They’re certainly not out in front of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office protesting in support of issuing concealed-carry licenses to law-abiding Californians who want to carry for self-defense purposes. No, their version of gun safety looks a lot like “Nobody should own a gun” … except for their private security guards, of course.
I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. There are those within the entertainment industry who absolutely do embrace our right to keep and bear arms. Maybe at next year’s Oscars we’ll see some rebellious celebrities buck the trend and dare to actually promote the idea that #SelfDefenseIsAHumanRight, but I’m not holding my breath. Instead, protected by armed security, celebrating their violent artistic endeavors while bemoaning violence in society, we’ll likely hear more privileged pop culture icons call for more restrictions against legal gun ownership.
I also suspect fewer and fewer of us will actually hear those lectures, and viewership for the Academy Awards will once again decline precipitously like it did in 2016. More and more Americans, it seems, would rather be entertained by “entertainers” than scolded by them.