Julianne Moore, Karen Elson on How Their Kids Moved Them To Act On Gun Safety

Gun Rights

In 2016, the National Rifle Association was the single biggest outside donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, dropping $30 million dollars to help ensure his election. But a lot has changed since then. In 2020, amid dwindling revenue and revelations the group was misusing funds, the NRA committed roughly half that amount behind Trump’s effort to remain in the White House. 

The nation’s largest gun-advocacy organization has continued to struggle since. In January, its longtime leader Wayne LaPierre resigned from the organization ahead of his corruption trial. In February, he was found liable for misspending more than $5 million of the group’s funds and ordered to pay restitution; two other NRA executives were also found liable. 

Warren Haynes at The Soho Sessions.

Sacha Lecca

This election, gun safety groups see an opening. “Their cupboard is bare,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told supporters on Wednesday night. So far this election cycle, according to FEC data, the NRA has spent just $11,407.43 in support of Trump. “The truth is their grassroots is feeling beleaguered and betrayed — and that is going to make a huge difference in 2024,” Feinblatt added.

Feinblatt made the remarks at a benefit for Everytown hosted by Gus Wenner, the CEO of Rolling Stone, at the Soho Sessions. Actress Julianne Moore and the model and singer-songwriter Karen Elson co-hosted. Warren Haynes, of the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule, performed, as did the rock band The Struts

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The Struts at The Soho Sessions.

Sacha Lecca

Both Moore and Elson spoke about coming to the cause through their children. 

In December 2012, on the day 20 first graders and six adults were massacred in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Moore was on set with her 10-year-old daughter. 

“I was so concerned about her hearing the news that I told everyone to keep the radio off at work and the television, please don’t talk about it, she’s just a little girl,” Moore said. But, despite her best efforts, her daughter learned what had happened anyway when they got home that night. “She said, ‘Mommy, did a bunch of little kids get shot today?’ And it was a moment of real shame for me as a parent because I realized that I was so intent on keeping her safe — and I couldn’t.” 

Gus Wenner, Julianne Moore, and Karen Elson at The Soho Sessions.

Elson, who splits her time between New York and Nashville, spoke about her own terror upon receiving a text in March of last year informing her that her son’s school had been put in lock-down because of an active shooter. 

“My first instinct, which is probably the wrong instinct, was to call the school. The school is busy, busy, and, of course, you go to the worst case scenario. I text my son, and he essentially says that there’s a school shooting. It’s not at my school, but it’s at my friend’s school, ‘and I’m really fucking scared,’” Elson recalled. That was the day that three adults and three children were murdered at Covenant School in Nashville. “It’s that moment, which really hit home for me … We’re all so few degrees away from this.” 


Greg Williamson, John Feinblatt, Nicole Rechter, Gus Wenner, Julianne Moore, Drew Spiegel, Karen Elson.

Sacha Lecca

Feinblatt, for his part, spoke optimistically about the possibility of affecting meaningful change in the coming years, as the NRA’s influence continues to decline. He noted that Everytown, along with the group Moms Demand Action, now have a network of supporters that is two and a half times the size of the NRA. And more than 15,000 candidates for office, he said, have sought Everytown’s endorsement. 

He is also bullish on the group’s lawsuits against gun manufacturers, of which there are currently 20 in various stages of litigation. For years, Feinblatt said, the NRA — and the politicians who cash their checks — “have been the project protective armor of the gun industry … With that armor stripped away, it is now time to really go after the industry and drive home the point that they are making a ton of money off of death, plain and simple.”

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