WASHINGTON — Comedian Chris Rock endorsed President Barack Obama’s gun control agenda Wednesday, urging Congress to act on the plan because the president, after all, is the “dad of the country.”
“The president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and dad of the country,” Rock said. “And when your dad says something, you listen. And when you don’t it usually bites you in the ass.”
Rock, along with singer Tony Bennett, actor Adma Scott and actresses Amanda Peet and Anna Deavere Smith appeared at a celebrity news conference led by Mayors Against Illegal Guns to urge lawmakers to act quickly on firearms legislation.
The group also included survivors of shootings, health officials, religious figures and members of Congress. It’s associated with Demand a Plan, an organization consisting of 850 mayors and claiming 1.2 million grassroots supporters.
They support criminal background checks for every gun sold in America, a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. The coalition would also make firearms trafficking—purchasing a gun for the express purpose of delivering it to a prohibited person—a federal crime. The proposals are in line with the White House recommended last month.
“I’m a gun owner, I’m a hunter and I believe in the Second Amendment,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said. “But I’m also a father and a grandfather, and I know we have to make our communities safer.”
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The organization produced a nearly 90-second ad in late December featuring dozens of A-listers calling for a plan against gun violence.
Speakers at the emotional event emphasized the widespread approval of certain gun control measures, such as universal background checks. Some speakers were visually shaken while speaking about the recent shootings.
“I still haven’t gotten over Connecticut,” said a somber Tony Bennett in brief remarks. “I’d like the assault weapons to go to war, not in our own country. And I’d like assault weapons eliminated.”
Other speakers couldn’t forget the string of assassinations in 1968.
“Since my father’s assassination, we’ve lost more than a million Americans to gun violence,” said Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. “We’ve endured enough pain. Please, with our members of Congress, stop the violence.”
Martin Luther King III started by quoting his father, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“It’s sad we had to lose 20 precious children in Newtown for us to have to talk about the issue, but we’re glad that it’s going to be addressed,” he said.
Rock has been particularly outspoken about gun control in the past. In his stand-up act, he says, “Gun control? We need bullet control! I think every bullet should cost $5,000. Because if a bullet cost $5,000, we wouldn’t have any innocent bystander.”
He has also suggested to the Television Critics Association last month that only those who have mortgages should be allowed to own guns.
“The gun lobby…says people need to be able to protect their property, but every mass shooting is done by guys who live with their mother,” he said. “So I believe you should need to have a mortgage to buy a gun. A mortgage is a real background check.”
Rock made his big screen debut in “Beverly Hills Cop II” in 1987 and spent three years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. He has recently appeared in the films “Grown-ups” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”