At an intimate dinner in LA last week, Christina Hendricks, Jameela Jamil, Sutton Foster and others addressed the elephant in the room.

By Yolanda Machado
Updated Aug 28, 2019 @ 8:30 am
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If you googled “Los Angeles shootings” last Friday, you would see two stories back to back: one about a shooting that injured four people, and another about a disgruntled employee who was caught with an arsenal of guns after threatening a mass shooting in a hotel. That was just an exemplary 24-hour period in a city that has some of the strongest gun-control laws in the United States, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this country has a problem with gun violence. Just this past month there were mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; and Gilroy, California, and more and more people — celebrities included — are speaking up to advocate for gun control, and demand stricter laws.

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For some, like Allison Janney, the issue has hit too close for comfort. “I'm from Dayton, Ohio,” Janney told me during the intimate InStyle Badass Women Dinner with Foster Grant on August 13th in West Hollywood, California. “My father had dinner on that exact street that night, and thank God he's 85 and not a late-night bar person, but that was very, very upsetting for me. I spent a lot of my time in my twenties on that street in those bars,” she said, referring to the Dayton neighborhood where one of the recent tragic shootings occurred. She quickly brought the conversation up to present-day.

“Lawmakers and legislatures need to talk about gun control right now. They need to listen to what we've all been telling them for years: stricter gun laws, background checks, everything that we all have been screaming about,” she added. “I look to what's happening in Hong Kong right now. I look at all of those people fighting for what they believe in, and that's what it's gonna take for us.”

Several women at the event expressed some frustration at the lack of response from lawmakers. “I'm not a political person, but I also have a two and a half year old daughter,” said Sutton Foster thoughtfully. “So it makes me really scared and really sad. I hate that we're still even having the conversation. I don't know how many more times something has to happen before there is some type of change. There has to be, there absolutely has to be some type of change soon.”

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Christina Hendricks admits to not knowing what the answer might be, but also thinks the gun violence epidemic has “gotten completely out of control," she said. "It's outrageous. It's astounding to me. It makes my blood boil, honestly! There has to be gun control.”

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For Jameela Jamil, that change has to start with the language we use to discuss gun violence. “Stop dismissing it as a mental health problem,” she said. “It stigmatizes mentally ill people. People all over the world have mental illnesses and they're not shooting people up. This is a gun problem. This is an assault weapon problem. I don't know if we can get rid of everyone's guns, but at least get rid of the assault rifles and assault weapons.”

Sophia Bush, a gun owner herself, agrees that there needs to be stricter gun control and more regulations on who can purchase guns. “I'm very pro gun control, and I say that as a gun owner since the age of 12,” she said as more guests filtered into the event. “I actually just was out in Des Moines, Iowa, where we held a Gun Sense Forum during the state fair. Seventeen of the democratic presidential candidates were there and had really frank conversations about gun control, about the effect of mass shootings, about the effect of daily gun violence in communities that don't get attention on the news; about how gun violence predominantly affects women in communities of color, and how all of that has to change. Those conversations were being frank about what America is right now, and being frank about what we deserve and need.”

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And for those who fear their Second Amendment rights are at risk, Patricia Clarkson weighed in: “We will never take away guns,” she offered. “But why do we have assault weapons? We don't let regular people drive tanks down the street, so why do we have weapons of war in the hands of regular citizens? Nobody's going to take your regular gun from you, but we do not need assault weapons because then you create your own battlefields and we're done. We're done.”

The topic of tragic loss that continues ripping across the United States was certainly top of mind at this one intimate event. And if anything, it seems as if at least this small group of people (but more likely many, many others) will continue speaking up about it at every chance.