Julianne Moore isn’t just an Academy Award-winning actress, children’s book author, and mother of two: She’s also an outspoken advocate for gun violence awareness. (If you ever want to feel that you haven’t accomplished enough, spend two minutes with her.) After the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, Moore knew that she needed to take action.
However, it wasn’t hearing the news of the horrific event that caused Moore to stop in her tracks, it was what she perceived as her flawed response to it.
“My daughter was 11. The day that it happened, she was out of school, and so I took her to work with me and I was working on a set in Queens,” Moore told Yahoo Celebrity at the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in orange to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2 and the Wear Orange campaign. “When I heard the news, I said to everybody, ‘Let’s keep the radio off in the car on the way there, and let’s keep the TV off in hair and makeup,’ and I asked everyone on the crew to please not mention anything to her because I wanted to wait until we got home to talk to her about it when her dad was there and her brother was there and we could talk about it as a family.”
At the lighting of the @empirestatebldg with gun violence #survivors and @johnfeinblatt. Tonight at 8:20pm the bldg will #WearOrange for gun safety. Please wear orange tomorrow June 2nd to commemorate victims of gun violence. #haydiyapendleton
A post shared by Julianne Moore (@juliannemoore) on Jun 1, 2017 at 2:24pm PDT
That plan backfired, though. “Literally, while we were decorating our Christmas tree, she had her brand new iPhone out,” she recalled. “It was very carefully monitored, because she was 11, and it had a very carefully monitored Instagram account. And she looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, did a bunch of little kids get shot today?'”
In that instant, Moore realized the error of her ways. “I was ashamed,” the 56-year-old star admitted. “I was ashamed that she was hearing that news and I had thought that I could somehow protect her.” What Moore realized was that the only way to really protect one’s child was “by changing legislation.” Shielding her daughter from the news wasn’t protecting her from it. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Moore then made it her mission to take on the “best” of legislation herself — no small feat for anyone, let alone a working actress. “What we realized was that, quite frankly, the federal government has been completely inactive on this,” she said with a sigh. “Certainly after Newtown, when they didn’t act even after innocent little children were shot, that’s when the model had to become going state by state by state.”
In Moore’s mind, the states are the only hope for enacting change. “In the states that have closed the background-check loophole, gun violence has been reduced by half. So it’s not eradicated, but it’s significantly less. So what we’re doing is going state by state by state to institute more gun safety legislation, and it seems to be working.”
Her own kids are still relatively young — her son is in college and her daughter is 15 — but they are both politically active in their own ways. Her son votes, Moore proudly reported, and her daughter will spend this coming summer interning at Everytown, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. (Moore happens to be the chair of the Creative Council for that group.)
While Moore is thrilled by seeing her children grow up, she admitted that she misses the younger years now. “You always miss everything,” she smiled. “But you have no choice but to be where you are. It’s great to watch them turn into big people.”
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