Pop Culture 2016: UCLA Shooting in midst of Gun Prevention Conference

Tom Arnold was in a press call for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on Wednesday, as word came down of a shooting at UCLA.

Arnold does extensive work at the university to raise money for children’s health, and compared that to what is spent on gun violence. “It is so frustrating, the amount of money and medical attention that we waste on this.  It is so frustrating to me.”

 

UCLA Shooting

Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign, called it “another tragedy.” He said that it reflected the rate of gun violence in the country. “You can rest assured during the length of this call … that there are going to be tragedies.”

Arnold talked about his 24-year-old nephew, Spencer, a military vet, who used a gun to commit suicide a month ago. Arnold talked about how his nephew was able to obtain weapons even though he had previously attempted to take his own life. His nephew got nicked out of the Army, Arnold said, and was “actually deemed unsafe to operate a weapon.”

But in Iowa he “got a concealed weapons permit, which is crazy to me,” Arnold said, adding that his nephew was diagnosed with chronic depression but refused to get treatment.

Spencer, he said, was “obsessed with guns” and joined gun clubs. He had five loaded handguns next to his bed.

“That would be like me sleeping next to a cabinet made of chocolate cake with a drawer full of cocaine,” said Arnold, who is a recovering addict. “I’d do well the first night, but there is going to be a bad day for me sometime. That is just the temptation. That is just too much.”

Last fall, Arnold said that he grew alarmed that his nephew was engaging in social media conversations with “right wing gun guys,” talking about violence against the U.S. government. Arnold made plans to go back to Iowa to take away his nephew’s guns, even if that meant kicking down his door. But some of his family members thought he was overreacting, and tipped his nephew off.

“I don’t want to take away guns,” Arnold said. “I just want mental health and mental illness protection. He blasted GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump as an “idiot” and “conspiracy theorist.” Trump has criticized “gun-free zones” as “like offering up candy to bad people” — an attractant to potential shooters.

Arnold said Trump will “say anything,” and that he was “disappointed with my friends who are going to support him.” “If he is president he would probably close down White House tours because he probably wouldn’t want any of those people in his house,” he said.

“I happen to know how dangerous guns are,” Arnold said, adding that he has experience firing guns at ranges. “I am sure Donald Trump has not.”

Arnold also said that the idea of arming teachers in schools was the “stupidest thing ever.” “Teachers need to be good teachers,” he said.

He said that a problem with the gun debate is that, when talking to gun rights advocates, “as soon as you hear the word ‘slippery slope’ by the other side, then you can’t talk to them. There is no gray area.”

The Brady Campaign has been pushing for expanded background checks and closing loopholes that allow instant gun purchases at venues like gun shows.