• U.S.

We Are the Disarmed World

4 minute read
Joel Stein

After Littleton, I didn’t know what to feel. Luckily, it wasn’t long before famous people told me. The moment that made me feel most at ease occurred when Sharon Stone surrendered her four guns to the police. That’s because I had called her last year for a Q&A column, and all I said was “You’re about to marry some journalist guy, right?” and she hung up on me. Imagine if I had got to “So, have you slept with the President?” If it were up to me, Stone would hand over everything but her butter knives and toenail clippers.

While Littleton was a tragedy for America, it was a great moment for show-biz talent. Not only did it finally bring Gloria Estefan to the White House to discuss gun control–which will no doubt encourage Brandy to attend some House Judiciary meetings–but it also forced other celebrities to tell us their political opinions. Rosie O’Donnell, who does ads for the rifle-selling K Mart chain, yelled at Tom Selleck for doing an ad for the N.R.A. The next week O’Donnell allegedly asked guest Bernadette Peters, who was going to sing on Rosie’s show, to change some lyrics to a song from Annie Get Your Gun. O’Donnell denies she made this request, but she also denies her desire to change the musical’s title to Annie Get Your Wit Sharpened for a Rootin,’ Tootin’ Debate.

My own career, however, wasn’t getting any buzz off this Littleton thing. So even though I don’t own any guns, I thought I should buy some and turn them over to the police. Stone, I was surprised to learn, was either too busy script reading or scaring some reporter to go to the station herself, so she got the police to come to her house to pick up the guns. I called the New York police to find out if they would pick up some guns from my apartment. They told me to sell them to a gun dealer. I told them I thought footage of the police gun-retrieval squad at my apartment would be more Access Hollywood-friendly than a tape of me and a gun dealer. They put me on the phone with Detective Walter Burnes, who said I’d probably get a visit if I called 911. “If I’m the desk sergeant, I send the car over for anything,” he explained. “You tell me you scratched your nose, we send a car over.”

Like Stone, I drafted my own press release, which read: “Joel Stein, author of such columns as Why I Should Be Man of the Century, Antichrist Like Me, Why I Hate Dogs and Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, is buying a bunch of guns to turn over to the police. And though it’s going to upset his accountant, he’s not even going to claim them as a charitable gift. That’s what kind of guy he is.”

I faxed it to several magazines, including Newsweek’s Marc Peyser, who writes the Newsmakers page. Peyser didn’t call. The only one to respond was Michele Orecklin, the writer of TIME’s People page, who sits two doors down from me. But she just wanted to know if I wanted to get lunch after she talked to Christie Brinkley’s and Joan Jett’s publicists about their trip to the Balkans.

I realize I’m too late on the antigun movement. So I’m going to spearhead the next big cause: anti-suntanning. I plan to debate George Hamilton, if he still has that talk show. If not, he’s really not worth my time. That’s what my publicist says.

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