Washington Secrets

Producer of gun-glorifying rappers demands Dems act alone on gun control

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Legendary hip hop producer Russell Simmons, co-founder of the Def Jam label, some of whose stars glorify gun violence, is demanding that Senate Democrats alone pass sweeping gun control measures.

In email to supporters, Simmons called on Democrats in the Senate to take the lead and pass gun control legislation. "Don't let the NRA drown out your voice. Demand that Democratic senators lead. Yours in the fight to end gun violence," he wrote in the email distributed by the progressive group Courage Campaign.

Simmons in the past has given support to gun control, but his new email was part of a campaign to push the issue in advance of this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's gun control legislation.

"With Democrats in charge, all of these measures should be approved by the committee so that they get a full vote in the Senate," said Simmons.

His label Def Jam is no stranger to violent lyrics.

One star, Ludacris, for example sings in "Stick em up:"

Hollow laid, hollow sprayed, I'm the hollow man

I get to my hollow point wit my hollow plan

Hollow bullets I pull it I'm about to live in vain

And then I drill em refill em make sure they feel the pain

In his email he demands:

-- A ban on assault weapons.

-- A ban on high-capacity magazines.

-- Universal background checks by closing the private sale (gun show) loophole.

-- A federal database that fully utlilizes modern technology to help law enforcement to pursue criminals who buy and sell illegal guns.

Below is his email:

From: Russell Simmons, for Courage Campaign

Date: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Subject: Do they deserve it?

A message from legendary hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, known for his work with Jay-Z, the Beastie Boys, and Run DMC, among many others.

"They deserve a vote." -President Obama

I don't know about you, Molly, but I was profoundly moved by President Obama's State of the Union address. Beginning with Hadiya Pendleton's parents, the president repeatedly declared that every victim of gun violence "deserves a vote" on major gun safety proposals.

I've thought long and hard about guns and their role in American society. I will do all I can to help pass common sense reform and end our epidemic of gun violence.

Join me and demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee follow the president's advice: vote on every major proposal and pass them all onto the full Senate.

Every piece of potential legislation to end gun violence will begin its journey through Congress in the Senate Judiciary Committee. As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has said, "Whatever the Senate Democrats do on this issue will set the bar for Republicans in the House to compromise away from. You're never going to get any better."(1) The Committee has 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans, and passing legislation onto the the full Senate only requires a majority vote.

Tell Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee: Set the bar high and support the most ambitious gun safety legislation possible.

What should they include? Here's a start:

A ban on assault weapons.

A ban on high-capacity magazines.

Universal background checks by closing the private sale (gun show) loophole.

A federal database that fully utlilizes modern technology to help law enforcement to pursue criminals who buy and sell illegal guns.

On Wednesday February 27, Sen. Dianne Feinstein will chair a hearing on the assault weapons ban before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hearings like this will help decide which legislation moves forward and which dies in committee. With Democrats in charge, all of these measures should be approved by the Committee so that they get a full vote in the Senate.

Don't let the NRA drown out your voice. Demand that Democratic Senators lead.

Yours in the fight to end gun violence,

Russell Simmons

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