Billy Joel, John Mellencamp and nearly 200 other musicians and industry executives joined music publisher Billboard in signing an open letter to Congress this week calling for increased gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack in early June.
In a statement on its website, Billboard‘s editors explained its decision to feature the artists and the letter on the cover of this month’s issue.
The publication’s editors wrote:
Like the rest of the country and the world, Billboard editors were horrified by the mass killing at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on June 12, and by the murder of singer Christina Grimmie the night before. Both tragedies occurred where musicians and music fans gathered. And so faced with another gun-related tragedy, the staff organized this special “Open Letter to Congress” cover of Billboard.
The letter calls for “a background check on every gun sale.” Missing from this call, however, is any acknowledgement that the Pulse nightclub gunman, Omar Mateen, passed a background check for his rifle and handgun. Kevin Loibl — the man suspected of killing The Voice star Christina Grimmie just one day before the Orlando attack — passed a background check for both of his guns.
The signatures on the letter include those of music industry heavyweights Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Beck, Bonnie Raitt, Calvin Harris, Carole King, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop and Jackson Browne, among many others.
Industry executives like Madison Square Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff and AEG Live CEO Jay Marciano also contributed signatures, as did talk show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O’Brien.
“Music always has been celebrated communally, on dance floors and at concert halls,” the open letter to Congress reads. “But this life-affirming ritual, like so many other daily experiences — going to school or church or work — now is threatened, because of gun violence in this country.”
In addition to requiring every would-be gun owner to pass the same background check that Omar Mateen and Kevin Loibl passed, Billboard‘s editors and the letter’s celebrity endorsers ask Congress to “block suspected terrorists from buying guns.”
Democrats have attempted to do this by including the “no-fly list” and other related lists in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s list of prohibited buyers. But the Boston Globe countered this push with a simple, rhetorical question: “If people on the no-fly list and the even more comprehensive terrorist-screening watchlist pose such an urgent threat to national security, why haven’t they been arrested?”
If there are people among us who are considered so dangerous that we can’t trust them to be near a gun, then why are we allowing them to walk freely in society? What weapons — other than a gun — might they use? Perhaps a car, an airplane, or a bomb will work if they get the chance.
This is the problem with legislating based on the behavior of criminals and terrorists. Law-abiding citizens lose freedom when laws punish everyone for the behavior of a few. If musicians really want to accomplish some good, they should implore Congress and Democrat mayors and governors to work harder to keep dangerous people off our streets.