Amy Schumer has come out in favour of tougher gun laws in the wake of a shooting spree at a US cinema where her hit movie Trainwreck was playing.
The comedian joined her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, as he unveiled a set of proposals to beef up background checks on gun buyers.
“No one wants to live in a country where a felon, the mentally ill or other dangerous people can get their hands on a gun with such ease,” she said.
“The time is now for American people to rally for these changes,” she added, her voice filled with emotion.
“These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence – but I can promise you, they will not be my last.”
She spoke 11 days after a 59-year-old man with a reported history of mental illness walked into a Louisiana movie theater, shot dead two women, then took his own life with his own .40 caliber handgun.
The incident prompted relatives of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting in December 2012 – in which 20 young children died – to urge Schumer to speak out louder against gun violence.
Senator Schumer’s proposals call for the use of financial incentives to ensure that states submit a full set of records to a federal database used by the FBI to screen gun buyers.
They would also see the Justice Department make recommendations on how states can stop the mentally ill from acquiring weapons, as well as halt cutbacks to federal spending on mental health programs.
“Today we are demanding that Congress take this issue very seriously,” the senator, a Democrat, said. Guns are blamed for around 32,000 deaths a year in the United States, a majority of them acts of suicide, and by some estimates there is almost one gun for every man, woman and child in the country.
While the Constitution guarantees the right of every American “to keep and bear arms,” legislative attempts at stricter gun control have often stumbled in the face of an influential gun lobby.
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, President Barack Obama pushed for more extensive background checks for gun buyers — only to see his effort fail to muster support in the Senate.