Celebrities love to preach to the unenlightened. They tell you to “vote or die”. If you vote the wrong way, they tell your Electors how to vote. And many of them are big on gun control – for you in the real world where guns are useful, not for them on-screen where everything is make-believe.
Gary Baum and Scott Johnson wrote for the Hollywood Reporter of the massive hypocrisy surrounding the entertainment industry and firearms.
We’re talking about a lot of guns onscreen. Since 9/11, America’s obsession with everything spy, terrorism and war-related has grown — and the content the population consumes increasingly reflects that. A 2015 report published by The Economist concluded that gun violence in PG-13 movies had tripled since 1985. And an analysis undertaken by THR found that the number of gun models pictured in big box-office movies between 2010 and 2015 was 51 percent higher than it had been a decade earlier, suggesting that the public’s appetite to see guns in entertainment is on the rise. (In the real world, research shows that the number of new gun owners is declining, while owners are buying record numbers of guns.)
A 51% increase in guns in the fake world of film but you’re supposed to disarm in the real world of ISIS and the knockout game.
That armory pictured above? It’s not the NRA museum locker in Virginia. It’s a Hollywood prop house in California.
A CLASS OF ARTISANS SIT AT THE CROSSROADS WHERE THE GUN meets Hollywood. They’re called armorers, and they have one foot firmly planted in each world. “Until they stop making films and outlaw weapons altogether, we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” says Gregg Bilson Jr., president of the American Entertainment Armorers Association and head of the Independent Studio Services, one of Hollywood’s biggest prop houses.
ISS is a massive, family-owned business — renting everything from Chinese takeout containers to canoes. With more than 16,000 guns in its arsenal, nearly all real, ISS is the largest armory in Hollywood (about 80 of the guns at the NRA’s Hollywood exhibit are on loan from ISS). Bilson’s crew of armorers and gunsmiths helps finicky directors from Michael Mann to Oliver Stone find and use historically appropriate weapons, train A-list actors (like Bradley Cooper, Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro) in how to wield them safely and shepherd complex projects to completion. “You can’t have a modern movie without a car rolling down the street or someone taking out an iPhone,” says Larry Zanoff, an ISS armorer who has worked on many big Hollywood productions. “Seventy-five percent of the time there’s at least one gun involved.”
Bilson agrees: “We’re just telling a story. Sometimes it’s told with a meal and two actors, sometimes it’s told in a hostage standoff.”
Few visitors get to enter ISS’ weapons department, but THR reporters were buzzed through the caged gate and into the linoleum-lined beating heart of Hollywood’s gun culture. Tucked amid the scraggly foothills of the San Fernando Valley, big rigs queuing out back, it’s a Willy Wonka wonderland for some, a nightmare war zone for others. Housing thousands of firearms of every conceivable type — from black powder pirate muskets to Uzis and flamethrowers, the ISS inventory is organized and displayed with an archivist’s care. All are carefully modified to shoot blanks for the screen.
Need dozens of AK-47s to outfit a band of terrorists? How about a range of Glocks for a police procedural? It’s all available in the weapons department, and if it’s not, they’ll make it for you. An industrial 3D printer can spit out precise custom parts. And the artists in the molds department create frames around existing firearms, or entirely new rubber ones of varying flexibilities, from firm to slack enough to pistol-whip.
Bilson, who took over the business his father founded in 1977 in his Culver City garage, built the weapons department. Today, Zanoff and Karl Weschta oversee a small staff of harried, passionate employees who manage the day-to-day of Hollywood’s gun ecosystem. At any moment, between 5,000 and 7,000 of ISS’ weapons are in circulation. On one day THR visited, carts were packed with guns marked for delivery to such popular shows as Pretty Little Liars, Preacher, Shameless and Scandal.
Unceremoniously tucked away in a black metal closet at ISS are shelves of firearms that were held by A-list protagonists in big movies: Tom Cruise’s HK45 from Collateral, the M1 Garand utilized by Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, the silenced shotgun employed by Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Staffers call it the “hero cabinet.”
How many of you have 16,000 guns? And I thought no-one outside the military or the police needed an assault rifle. ISS loans more than rifles and handguns too. They have everything from flintlocks to Mini-guns to grenade launchers. I imagine they’re a Class III outfit and a special (very special) exception to California’s gun laws.
That would sum it up nicely: Hollywood is very special; you are not.
The very same people who wantonly sling lead and violence on the silver screen often do not want you capable of defending yourself even in your own home. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to shell out $12 a ticket to see their latest low-rent, recycled filth.
There are two types of people in the world – those with a gun, and those who dig. Now dig!
— The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly