NEW YORK — Comedian Amy Schumer spoke tearfully of two women who were shot to death during a screening of her movie, "Trainwreck," and asked lawmakers Monday to support a gun control bill sponsored by her second cousin, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
"I've thought about these victims each day since the tragedy," she said at a news conference at the senator's office in New York.
"People say, 'Well, you're never going to be able to stop crazy people from doing crazy things,' but they're wrong. There is a way to stop them," she said.
The legislation would try to improve a flawed background check system by creating monetary incentives for states that submit a robust amount of information to the federal database used to block sales to people with criminal records or a history of serious mental illness.
Movie theater gunman John Russell Houser shot 11 people during a screening of the film last month in Lafayette, Louisiana, before then killing himself.
He bought the gun in Alabama last year following a background check that failed to reveal that he had a history of psychiatric problems and had been the subject of domestic violence complaints. A Georgia judge ordered Houser detained for a mental evaluation in 2008 after relatives claimed he was dangerous.
Sen. Schumer emphasized that his bill, which would also create penalties for states that fail to submit records to the database, is about improving the background check system, not putting new restrictions on buyers.
Known best for her humor on women's sexuality and gender inequality, Amy Schumer was asked by reporters Monday whether she thought Houser purposely picked her film because of his negative views about feminism and liberals.
"I got about a million emails from friends telling me, 'It could have been any movie,' and I'm trying to believe that. But I'm not sure," she said. "I think the idea of women's equality making anyone upset is not anything I'll ever understand."
She said that she's always been in favor of smarter gun laws but that the shootings had made the issue "extremely personal."
Schumer also said she expected backlash for speaking out about guns, but she didn't care.
"I'll handle it the way I've handled it the last 10 years," she said. "I've had death threats and a lot of hate directed toward me. But I want to be proud of the way I'm living and what I stand for."