FX president and general manager John Landgraf told TV critics he’s given the issue of violence in America plenty of recent thought and research and he’s come to a conclusion: High-capacity guns are a problem, not necessarily violent entertainment.
“After being so upset and horrified and sad and angry at Newtown, I looked at statistics on gun violence,” said Landgraf on stage at the network’s press tour presentation in Pasadena on Wednesday. The executive cited figures that point out Great Britain has a substantially lower rate of gun violence. “We consume the same media, the same movies, the same types of shows, the same video games — Call of Duty is very popular in England; [AMC's] The Walking Dead is the No. 1 cable show in England, [FX's] Sons of Anarchy is very popular in England, the last time I checked James Bond kills an awful lot of people with a gun,” Landgraf said.
“So I have to say, while I think that everything and anything that bears responsibility for these types of tragedies up to and including what we do in the media should be fair game and should be looked at, if you look at the major difference between England and United States it’s the access and availability of guns,” Landgraf said. “In particular, it’s a kind of gun … I believe in First and Second Amendment. I believe in free speech in this country and I believe in the right to have guns for protection. But the last time I checked, a shotgun or handgun that has a six-round clip are perfectly adequate weapons for defense in the home.”
Landgraf noted reports that Colorado theater shooter James Holmes got off 30 shots in 27 seconds last summer. “You simply can’t create that kind of mayhem if you have to reload,” Landgraf said. “We should be looking at … access to those kind of 100-round, 30-round assault guns that allow a crazy person to create an untold amount of mayhem.”
The executive emphasized he would like to see more research on gun violence that examines all possible factors, including violent media content. He also said he wasn’t comfortable with one type of entertainment in particular: First-person shooter video games. “I’m more comfortable with third-person entertainment,” he said. “You’re in a first-person context; you’re killing everything in sight.”
Landgraf is well regarded among industry reporters for giving thoughtful and candid responses during interviews. FX is owned by News Corp., whose head Rupert Murdoch recent called for greater U.S. gun control, so he probably isn’t going out on a limb by taking a measured gun-control stance. The comments come on the heels of Fox’s entertainment chairman defending an upcoming violent serial killer thriller The Following on Tuesday.
After Landgraf’s panel, comedian Chris Rock took the press tour stage in support of his FX show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Asked about gun violence, Rock said: “I believe you should have to have a mortgage to buy a gun. Nobody with a mortgage has ever gone on a killing spree. Because a mortgage is a real background check. And you know if you go to jail for 30 years you still have to pay your f–king mortgage.”