The Problem with Guns
The Problem With Guns (and Domestic Abusers)
Domestic violence is a predictor for gun violence, yet we have a problem enforcing laws that strip firearms from domestic abusers. Jon talks with head writer Chelsea Devantez about her experiences with these issues, possible solutions...and also, somehow, puppet TV shows from the '70s. Jon then talks with bounce musician Big Freedia about her documentary, Freedia Got a Gun, and how gun violence has affected her hometown of New Orleans.
The Problem with Jon Stewart Podcast
Episode 8 Transcript
Jon Stewart: I’ve been microdosing the whole f***ing week.
Chelsea Devantez: Oh you microdose?
Jon: I would love to.
Chelsea: Honestly, doesn’t it sound great? I kind of want to do it.
Jon: I really wanna microdose.
Chelsea: Oh, I want to micro –
Jon: I just heard that it’s –
Chelsea: – It’s just like it cures your depression.
Chelsea: A tiny bit of shrooms.
Chelsea: Hey, can we get a sponsor? Can we get a microd–
Chelsea: – ose shrooms sponsor?
Jon: Today’s podcast is brought to you by Psilocybin. Psilocybin. Just don’t have it on an empty stomach.
Jon: Okay, everybody. We are doing the podcast. We’re talking to Chelsea Devantez. She is our head writer.
Jon: And tremendous.
Jon: That’s all.
Chelsea: I thought you were, I thought you were going to – Wow, just one adjective, huh?
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] No, I’ll take the one.
Jon: Hard working!
Chelsea: Tremendous is a good one.
Jon: She thinks she’s taller than I, but I guarantee you it’s the boots.
Chelsea: Should we say our height on three.
Jon: It’s 5’7.
Chelsea: I do wear – [LAUGHS] – I do wear very tall boots.
Jon: Yes. So there’s a there’s an intimidation factor. Chelsea.
Jon: We did an episode on guns and I had let’s face facts. I had this thing nailed when I was telling Chelsea about the idea for the show. Guns was the template that I used, and I laid out this incredibly clever, really smart take on the stagnant gun debate in this country where rather than focusing on the cycle of violence and the helplessness of the violence, we would attack it not through gun control, but in the way we attack illicit drugs. And we would look at guns through lethality. Not assault rifle, nothing but if it’s a higher caliber, if it’s a higher velocity, what are the things that do more damage and we’ll regulate it through them.
Chelsea: Yeah like what’s your marijuana? What’s your meth?
Jon: That’s right. What’s your Advil? What’s your heroin? Although your drugs work too.
Jon: Chelsea was blown away, and she said to me, “Oh, I shall do this show.”
Chelsea: Yes, I said, “This has turned me.” I wept. I wept on the phone.
Jon: She wept on the phone. So we get in to do it, and it turns out I was completely wrong.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] Our researchers were the one who blew the whistle on that because I was like, “Hell, yeah, let’s start regulating.”
Jon: F***ing research.
Chelsea: F***ing research, man. Every time. We love you research, could not do this without you, but wow, f*** you guys.
Jon: But wow, f*** you guys for always knowing.
Chelsea: Always knowing everything –
Chelsea: – Better than the dumb comedian.
Jon: So upsetting.
Chelsea: Yeah, so they came in and said, “That’s actually not a good idea.”
Jon: Yes. Well, they said it was, “Yes, that could have some effect on a tiny, tiny percentage of the violence in this country. But through our research, it looks like a lot of things run through the lens of domestic violence.”
Chelsea: And look, spoiler alert.
Jon: Mm hmm.
Chelsea: You got to go watch the episode, you guys. Also, this is a trigger warning we’re going to be talking about –
Chelsea: Guns and domestic violence. But the stat that really got me is that 60 percent of mass shootings are done by domestic violence offenders. So 60 percent of them could potentially be affected if domestic violence offenders simply weren’t allowed to have guns.
Jon: You know, 40 percent of women who are killed by guns are victims of their partners of domestic violence.
Chelsea: Oh yeah. And I mean, we have even had a stat rollers like one in every 14 hours –
Chelsea: A woman will die.
Chelsea: From domestic violence.
Jon: That’s right.
Chelsea: I mean, every –
Jon: Domestic violence through guns, I think.
Chelsea: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: And even higher number through just domestic violence. But the intersection of gun violence in our culture and domestic violence was shocking and looked like a really good way in that if we just enforced the laws on domestic violence, we could really have an impact on gun violence as well.
Chelsea: Which is a nice way of saying since you haven’t taken domestic violence seriously, maybe you can care about yourself. And if you don’t want to go to the movies and fear a mass shooting, all you have to do is take domestic violence seriously.
Jon: That’s right. Or if you’re on the side that says, “Hey, I back the blue and I want to protect the police.” The most dangerous call they go on is a domestic violence call where there is a firearm.
Chelsea: Yeah, where there is a firearm is the most police death.
Jon: So I guess what we’re saying is you clearly don’t care about women, but –
Jon: – You do care about guns and we could go that –
Chelsea: We could go this route. Well, also, I feel like in every episode, we come up against things like, “Oh, well, it’s going to take government regulation to some degree and oh my God, that it takes so much.” And this is the one issue so far –
Jon: Mm hmm.
Chelsea: – Where the government has already said domestic violence offenders can’t have guns and all we have to do is enforce it. I feel like that was what was special about this episode and that, like the rules are in place.
Chelsea: We just don’t follow them.
Jon: That’s right. We don’t follow the rules because [Jon sings a section of “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL” BY BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE AND SAMUEL A. WARD]
Chelsea: Can’t wait to see what’s the second verse. Nope, keep going. You started this. No, because we have a massive, massive cultural issue –
Chelsea: With domestic violence.
Jon: And then Chelsea said, which is odd when you’re considering that it’s an issue on guns in domestic violence, “This is my dream show. This is my dream show.”
Jon: And I was like, “Really? Because my dream show is like H.R. Pufnstuf. It’s giant people dressed up as puppets.” Do you remember H.R. Pufnstuf?
Chelsea: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Jon: It was the freakiest f****** thing you’ve ever seen in your life, like these dudes were absolutely trippin. I don’t know what we’re talking about right now.
Chelsea: I was gonna say, do you think anyone still listening?
Jon: No, I lost myself.
Chelsea: Oh, okay okay.
Jon: Back on track.
Chelsea: This really was my dream episode,.
Chelsea: But I mean, it’s gross. I hate myself for saying this, but like, I feel like it’s the most important thing I’ve ever been a part of television-wise.
Jon: Oh wow.
Chelsea: By far. I never imagined we would cover this. This is a topic that people don’t like to cover. And look, sad topics are covered a lot, but specific to domestic violence is shame. There’s such intense shame around it. And so it’s a topic that’s like very hard for victims and survivors to talk about and then for other people to talk about. It has this like extra factor that people repel from.
Jon: Why so much shame? Like is it that people believe at some level it’s their fault or they’re weaker for having experienced it or what? What is the shame revolve around?
Chelsea: Yeah. Well, so I mean, the reason it was my dream episode is because domestic violence has affected my life. It’s probably like the main thing that is like, had an effect on my life.
Chelsea: I know I felt like, like, disgusting. Like what type of a person was I that I like brought this into my life and that I couldn’t get out of it? And also, you know, April Ross said this amazing thing on the show, which is that “these relationships start in love,” or at least in like. And so you’re a participant in it. In something that becomes very, very violent. But then you feel a lot of shame about like having participated in that relationship. And I was very young. I was 15.
Jon: Oh boy.
Chelsea: So it was also like, you know I –
Jon: First love and felt like.
Chelsea: – Guy I lost my virginity to.
Jon: Oh boy.
Chelsea: You saw me at the taping.
Jon: No, I know.
Chelsea: I sobbed through the taping, but I have to say, if you’re going to have a breakdown at work –
Chelsea: – Do it with a mask on. Oh my God. The mask, it caught my tears. You couldn’t see the tear streaks. I was like, “Oh, this is wearing a mask at work.” It was great.
Chelsea: Oh my God, I sobbed because I think this is what is so important to me about this episode in this issue, in that like when I was going through it, like I really felt f***ing alone. And for years after it, I kept it to myself. In this episode, there were so many similarities that both those women said about what happened to them, like, this is a pattern. It can happen to anyone and like, you feel like a freak, but the pattern is crazy. So one of the things she said about it starting in love, I think that goes with the shame. It like slowly escalated in my relationship, and also I was very young and a lot of like, really intense things happened. But the kind of final thing that happened is like when I broke it off is he did three drive by shootings. One of where my mom worked and two of our house.
Jon: Oh, Lord.
Chelsea: And it was like, you know, I remember thinking about like what am I going to say at school? And like, do you think I’ll ever go to prom like, you know what I mean because you just.
Chelsea: And it sounds insane, but when you’re in it, it feels so normal. So this is where it leads to our episode. I’ll do this in the broad strokes.
Chelsea: Look, I’m looking at some tissues between us. I’m like, I’m not looking to use those, so.
Jon: I am.
Chelsea: The broad strokes are that I dropped out of high school. We went to court. I was given a permanent restraining order against them for the rest of my life, which I didn’t even know till way later how rare that is. And even on our episode, our researcher Susan was like, “I don’t even think you can get a permanent one.”
Jon: I hadn’t heard of that.
Chelsea: And the reason I knew you could is because I had one, which is crazy, and I even had to like, go back and look at it. I can see like, yeah, it was permanent because this is what happens. I moved. I did so many things to change my life, to get away from him because a restraining order is still just a notion.
Chelsea: It’s a piece of paper. It’s not like a it’s like a shield wall.
Chelsea: So I moved away. Take that giant wall of pain. Become what? A comedian.
Chelsea: You know what I mean like –
Jon: You’re welcome.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] Exactly. And 10 years after that, I was performing on stage at the Second City and a cop walked into the building with a folder to subpoena me back to court in that town across the country, because my high school boyfriend wanted to lift the permanent restraining order. Because if you have a permanent restraining order on you, you can’t own a firearm. If you can’t own a firearm, you can’t become a cop. And he wanted he wanted a cop.
Jon: He wanted to become a cop?
Chelsea: Mm hmm.
Jon: Holy f***.
Chelsea: So then when I was in my 20s, I like faced the court system again, and that’s when I really learned about a lot of the things that are in our episode. Like that was the only thing stopping him from owning a gun or how rare it was that I had a permanent one or that like standard domestic violence laws say that like if you have been contacted or stalked in two to four years, it’s automatic grounds for a dismissal. And most states, like permanent isn’t like they usually have an end period. They usually –
Chelsea: – Are like, okay, it’s been. However, many years have been what state you’re in. And then it’s up. And then at the same time, I had so much trauma. I mean –
Jon: Oh, god I’m sure.
Chelsea: – And I like, I didn’t tell anyone. I’m so embarrassed. I’m f***ing embarrassed. Like, I don’t want that to be my life story. But like it is.
Jon: Right. Once you changed your life and you moved away, was there a moment where you felt safe again or there wasn’t? There’s never that exhale.
Chelsea: No, and it was a weird thing to like the only thing that made me feel better was comedy. But when you start getting more success and you’re performing live shows as I was doing, it’s like anyone can buy a ticket. You’d like, scan the audience and it’s just like, it’s just constant, you know?
Jon: This is also it’s not in the digital age, like in the way that everybody tracks everybody now. This is like sort of an analog story I would imagine.
Chelsea: It was on the cusp. So when it –
Chelsea: – Facebook later came around and I was like, “Oh my God.”
Jon: Oh boy. You had to factor this into every decision that you made in your life.
Chelsea: I think it held me back for a long time. You’re just like, don’t want to be seen and you’re hiding, but then also like, you’re living your life. But then also it was a long time ago. But then also like, I think it’s just your mental health is like wrecked. So really, until I saw a trauma therapist – highly recommend, got some hot meds. That’s when I like finally –
Jon: Good Yelp reviews. A lot of good Yelp reviews on this.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] – But I mean, that’s what allowed me to, like, become a person again.
Chelsea: Because I was living with CPTSD and had no idea. I just thought I was like a f***ed up person. I just like, wow, I have a really f***ing crazy personality and then sort of realize like, oh no, I’m living with all these things that.
Chelsea: Happened when I was a teenager.
Jon: And unresolved and hadn’t dealt with.
Chelsea: Yeah, and now I’m like having been in therapy for so long, I’m much better and also like, yeah, getting to do this episode felt so –
Jon: I’m so glad.
Chelsea: – Yeah, it’s I just felt like finally like, you can like, do something. That’s how I felt.
Jon: And it’s interesting because it feels like what you’re saying, too, is that the catharsis of it, it doesn’t go away. It’s like a scar. But that you have to you have to deal with it. Like the more you bury it, the worse it gets.
Chelsea: Yeah, I mean, for a long time, I thought my strength was not needing to talk about it. Like I was very proud that like, no one knew that about me and I never needed to speak about it.
Chelsea: Until, like when I got subpoenaed, like back to like, lift the order like I was in a relationship. I had never told him. I hadn’t told my friends. I mean, like, I just wanted, I just wanted a chance at life again. Like, I didn’t want it to come with me. And a lot of that was because I was like, so ashamed of it and thought there was like something wrong with me. And it felt like I would unravel if I did it.
Chelsea: And I feel like what you’re looking at is like just f***** years of work. Like, I just like and I’m very proud of it now, but it’s like, yeah, because we don’t talk about it. I thought I was alone, and so do many other women. I think it’s very important that we made it funny, because oftentimes these topics are like relegated to like, you know, the sad lady show.
Chelsea: Which you don’t turn on like it has to reach people. Like I wish as a kid, I could have like known that it wasn’t like it wasn’t just me.
Jon: The crazy thing about it is more than likely wherever you lived. Not only was it not you, but you could probably go around your block –
Chelsea: Oh yeah.
Jon: – And find numerous examples.
Chelsea: I mean, it was my mom. It was my godmother. It was in my own house.
Jon: In terms of support and being able to talk about it. Seeing it as an example away from you is one thing, but like even in your own family, they didn’t talk about it or they didn’t.
Chelsea: It’s so nuanced.
Chelsea: My mom had divorced her husbands because of this, like we had, like gone through horrible things already. And yet the first thing I did was get into a relationship I did myself, which also statistically is what happens.
Chelsea: If you are raised around domestic violence, you are way more likely to participate in a relationship like it doesn’t. You’re not like, “Oh, I know, I don’t want that.”
Chelsea: In fact, you’re just sort of like, “That’s normal.”
Jon: And I wonder if those predatory individuals –
Chelsea: Yeah, they know.
Jon: – Right it.
Chelsea: Oh, yeah, I’m a mark. I have so much mace on me, Jon. I feel like I’m not a mark anymore, but like even in like, you know, the f***ed up improv world where there was like, you know, it’s a very predatory world –
Jon: You also went into, by the way, like the world she entered into –
Chelsea: – Worst! Worst choice.
Jon: – I mean, stand up, improv, pathological, patriarchal uh –
Chelsea: Oh yeah.
Jon: – Sexual harassment aplenty like it’s about as dysfunctional a world in that –
Chelsea: Oh yeah.
Jon: – Way that you can find.
Chelsea: If there was a predatory improv teacher, I got him.
Jon: Oh, boy.
Chelsea: You know what I mean? Because it’s like you had a thing above your head being like daddy issues, relationship issues –
Chelsea: – Like f*** with me uhm. But I also think it’s like I was the sounds woo woo. But it’s not. I mean, the same typically wasn’t in my body. Like, I was dissociating like all the f***ing time.
Chelsea: You can. How to tell when someone’s like checked out, is this sad? This is sad. [LAUGHS]
Jon: No, it’s not. Here’s the other thing too, like the other thing is as as your friend, as someone who loves you, like, I felt like completely shame that that I didn’t know that and that and that –
Chelsea: I would never want you to know I wouldn’t. You know what I mean? I would hate to be walking around and like, even as I speak about it and I’m like, people are going to know.
Chelsea: This thing about, I’m no longer just a comedian, or hopefully your funny friend, or I’m going to be like that girl who went through this.
Jon: Everybody goes through their traumas and it’s all individual. I know you to be incredibly empathetic so you don’t judge people on that basis and other people’s trauma you totally understand and you are completely there and supportive and all those things. So why don’t you think that’s going to be reciprocated?
Chelsea: That’s a great question. I think –
Jon: I’m a trauma therapist. DA da da da.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] You’re doing it great?
Jon: I’m prescribing you.
Chelsea: Yeah, actually, I would love more drugs.
Chelsea: No, I think that it’s definitely like that is where you get into the science of trauma that changed my life because there’s just no –
Jon: I bet it changes your brain chemistry. I mean, I bet it absolutely, especially at a time when your brain is developing –
Jon: – When you’re a kid.
Chelsea: Yeah. And there’s things with me that’s just like, they’re just it’s just me now, you know? But like, I would be told that the very unique personality and then I’m literally every box you check in a trauma textbook.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] Like, I was like –
Chelsea: Oh, like literally down to like not liking yoga.
Chelsea: Because like, closing your eyes and getting calm is the last thing that feels from safety. It’s like the opposite of safety, like safety is like vigilance and looking around and like, you don’t want to close your eyes and get calm. You want to like be aware and turning in a 360 emotional time.
Jon: Holy s***, I never even would have thought that –
Chelsea: Oh yeah, yeah. But I was like, Yeah, I hate yoga.
Jon: – Right.
Chelsea: And they’re like, “Yeah, we all do.”
Jon: Yes, I just don’t like yoga, but it’s not because of that –
Chelsea: Yeah I also don’t like to workout!
Jon: – Yeah, I just don’t want anybody saying to me, I feel the ground.
Chelsea: Oh yeah, you’re like, “F*** off.”
Chelsea: I mean, I’m sure there’s and there’s many other reasons to not like yoga, but it was, you know, things that I just thought were like, “Oh, that’s me.”
Jon: Do you still feel like that hyper vigilance will always be with you?
Chelsea: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jon: So it is –
Chelsea: But I’ve come so far there was a time in my life I couldn’t even say this like out loud. And it wasn’t that long ago. And I even now I’m like, I’m sad. I’m like trying to not cry on a podcast with Jon Stewart.
Jon: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Chelsea: But I’m just saying like, I’m trying to, like, keep it together. But like I, there was a time I didn’t think I could ever even say it out loud.
Chelsea: And –
Jon: I so desperately don’t want you to judge yourself.
Jon: Like, really, that’s my whole thing was like, I keep wanting to say, like, you don’t understand, like, we love you, like we like you. I don’t care what you could say to me like, “I was raised by aliens and killed people.”
Jon: Like it doesn’t. You know you’re so the person you are is so wonderful. Like whatever it was that got you there. And I know it was probably a struggle and I know it was hard, but I so desperately don’t want you to judge yourself.
Chelsea: You really are my therapist now.
Chelsea: I know, but I think it’s cultural, though like I it really felt like it’s like good women are like cute and sweet. They have worth.
Chelsea: And I really felt like like it happened to me because like, I was like a f***ing freak. And that’s also not true.
Jon: You took that you yourself.
Chelsea: Yeah. And you can be any woman like it can happen to anybody.
Jon: But in the spread of it, it was sort of like when we were talking to people about this, it was stunning. The depth of it, the breadth of it cut across every community, every demographic, every age group like it was stunning.
Chelsea: It’s crazy when you say like this affects one in four women because you’re like, wow, that’s crazy, but you still kind of think it’s like other women, whereas like, it really is the people like in the room with you, it’s just hard to share it. And also, if you’re not out of it, if you can’t share it and like in a way, this is like very f***ed up to say like in a way, I’m like, so grateful it happened to me so young because I just went so far the other way and like so protective of myself, you know? And also, like, I became like a raging feminist, but not because I like even knew who Gloria Steinem was. I just like, went to court and saw how things were so heavily imbalanced –
Chelsea: – Towards women and how you can’t be protected from this and how people treated you in the town.
Jon: Did you feel like you were in a system that accepted that just, “hey that’s what men are like?” Like that it that it dismissed the terror? I would imagine it’s like if a terrorist attack happened and everyone was just like, “Hey, man, that’s just how people are like that – “
Chelsea: Oh –
Jon: – Just, “Hey, man, people do, they do bombings like.”
Chelsea: – Oh yeah.
Jon: It is what it is.
Chelsea: Or they be like, oh, he didn’t mean it, or he was just –
Jon: Oh, God.
Chelsea: – Scaring you.
Jon: Is that the stuff they would say to you? Like, “oh, he’s he’s just going through it. And don’t worry.”
Chelsea: Right before it happened, I had a teacher say, like, don’t f*** with our player. Like –
Chelsea: – Yeah, you’re f***ing with his head.
Chelsea: Mm hmm. And like part of the whole reason why I dropped out of high school is because it was like, even if you now the court order could make him leave. But like, I would still have to like, go and be around all these people, and I would have been the person that, like, took their star player off the team.
Jon: Do you think at any level that teacher would ever have a moment of like, “oh, I’m a terrible person and the opposite of a teacher?”
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] I don’t, I don’t think so.
Chelsea: I think like, I don’t know, it’s like what gets you to change? Like, I left like my whole life was destroyed. Like, I didn’t know if I was going to be a person again, you know? And like, that’s not enough. And he still wanted to, like, lift the order years later. Like, I think like if it doesn’t culturally shift, it’s really that thing where it’s like it has to happen to your mother, your daughter or your wife –
Chelsea: – And you can’t be the one doing it and maybe you’ll –
Jon: Well, that’s always the people you know, I have a daughter and you know, so I. But you shouldn’t have to. You should just be like, you know –
Chelsea: Be human.
Jon: – I’m part of being human.
Chelsea: At the time, I felt like so like the gross girl who wasn’t going to get to graduate, you know? And now I’m sort of like, I can’t f***ing believe that happened. But also it took me so long to even say it that I didn’t even realize how f***ed up it was for like many, many years.
Jon: When you said it were. Did you find other people around you? Kind of because you were saying you didn’t say it out, like you said it to like a therapist.
Chelsea: Um, yeah. So when the when I like had to go back to court, I said it out loud to like relationship and friends. And no, they were like, I mean, it sounds f***ing crazy.
Jon: What do you mean?
Chelsea: Like three drive by shootings is crazy.
Chelsea: That’s very intense.
Jon: Oh yeah.
Chelsea: I had sort of been like –
Jon: I think actually, I’m going to go with one.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] Yes, one’s enough.
Jon: My limit on drive by shootings, generally one.
Chelsea: Generally one. Yeah, I mean um, part of surviving it is playing it down and disappearing it. And it’s and it’s like, not that bad. It’s not that bad. It’s not the bad. It’s not the bad. It like it was f***ed up, but it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. And so I think a big part of it was like being like, oh, that wasn’t fine. I was actually like, whoa. Or like, even now I’m like, I got a permanent restraining order, like. And that’s really rare and like there were many other things apart of that court case besides the shooting. All I can say is that like trauma brain is like very real –
Chelsea: – And it feels like it takes your brain and it just shatters it. And then you spend the rest of your life trying to, like somewhat puzzle some pieces back together, and it makes you a terrible person to try and fix these thing. Help these things stand up for yourself because you’re now working with like a brain that doesn’t function like a normal brain.
Jon: I wonder if that’s like, you know, if you think about fight or flight, you know what I mean? Like, if you feel like you’re in that kind of trauma, like, I imagine there’s a certain like reptilian aspect to it where you’re just in this survival mode. And I would think that’s really hard to come out of. It’s very hard. Thank you.
Jon: That was welcome to obvious man. The obvious therapy man.
Chelsea: [LAUGHS] No, it is so f****** hard to go through this –
Jon: Because it’s primitive.
Chelsea: – It’s annoying. I almost wish I didn’t talk about it at all. I did this long time ago. I chose to talk about it.
Chelsea: But sometimes I’m like, Jesus, this is like way easier when I wasn’t f***ing opening up and sharing it and dealing with other people’s emotions about it, or worrying that like it would get out and people would know I was talking about it.
Chelsea: And then I would feel repercussions from that.
Jon: So it’s not like talking about it was a huge weight off your shoulders. Like, it’s still it was just one part of a process that takes years.
Chelsea: Yeah, I think it was killing me from the inside, and now I’m like free of that part of it. And also, I just logically am like, if more people talk about this than like that girl who was 15 right now.
Chelsea: Can have more help. And so then I’m like got to be loud.
Jon: What did it feel like when April was talking about it? When you saw her doing it on the show and when Janet was doing it on the show, like, did that, did you at least feel like, you did that? Like, did you at least feel that sense of pride, like you set that up to have that message? Do you know what I mean? Like that?
Jon: That that’s real. That’s –
Chelsea: I was going to make it through the whole podcast without crying.
Jon: Aw, you’re crying now?
Chelsea: No, but it’s like it’s so hard to. It’s so hard to come back from it. And like, you like doing that episode, I truly felt like at least I’ve done this. And like, maybe I can, like, have peace because like this has happened. That’s how I feel about our episode of TV.
Jon: Right. I’m crying. Oh I wish I’d done it in front of a paywall. Jesus –
Jon: Oh my god, what have I done.
Chelsea: So subscribe to the Patreon –
Chelsea: We’ll be selling Jon’s tears and little tiny teacups. And thank you for doing that. And also like, it’s a real solution. It’s like it’s a real solution.
Jon: Oh –
Chelsea: All we have to do is enforce these laws against.
Jon: – Right.
Chelsea: Domestic violence offenders. And like there’s solutions for gun violence on the table.
Jon: Your thought process on it was so clear and so smart, and it got us to that place. So I just wanted to thank you because you made that episode.
Chelsea: Thank you, truly. From, I mean, I thought I used to think I’d be thanking you for giving me a dream job. Now I’m thanking you for giving me my dream episode of television.
Jon: There you go. Your dream job dream episode. We got to figure out what’s next.
Chelsea: Yeah. What’s for Christmas, Jesus?
Jon: Dream narrative.
Chelsea: Oh boy.
Jon: Mini series.
Chelsea: You didn’t even get into–
Jon: On Showtime.
Chelsea: Oh boy.
Jon: It’s a Western. Okay, so as we mentioned earlier, we did an entire show on this looking further into gun violence and domestic violence and how it all sort of works together. Talked to some folks who are dealing with that right now. I hope you do check it out. But right now, a pivot, a segue. A segue? A pivot. Gun violence obviously goes beyond domestic violence and I saw this documentary, “Freedia Got A Gun,” and it looks at rampant gun violence in New Orleans, made by New Orleans native, Big Freedia. She is a bounce performer. Really talented singer and musician in New Orleans who lost her baby brother to gun violence. And so we got a chance to talk to her for a little bit. The documentary is “Freedia Got a Gun” and it’s a really interesting look at New Orleans. So, take a listen.
Interview with Big Freedia
[Audio Clip] [FREEDIA GOT A GUN] No one is responding to the gun violence issue like it’s an epidemic. Nobody.
[Audio Clip] [FREEDIA GOT A GUN] One time I had to sit down and really ask myself, how many people do you know killed by gun violence? It was between 60 and 70 people. It is such a repetitive thing though here in New Orleans.
[Audio Clip] [FREEDIA GOT A GUN] There’s a story of gun violence in America that people are not talking about but we’re living it.
Jon: We’re talking to Big Freedia from New Orleans, who has, first of all, an incredible career in creating the bounce sound and an incredibly talented performer, but also doing some really impressive work on the violence issue in New Orleans. And Freedia, thank you so much for being with us. Welcome to the program.
Big Freedia: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jon: I saw the documentary that that you made about the violence and the personal connection that you have to it and the things that were going on. Your brother was killed in gun violence in New Orleans and is that what spurred you to look deeper at the issue in your community?
Big Freedia: You know, being that my baby brother was taken from, you know, me and my family and in 18, I definitely want to do something that will dig deeper. So, you know, to help my family, as well as families around New Orleans and Louisiana, that, you know, we deal with gun violence on it every day. So I wanted to do something to help my community.
Jon: I was stunned by the connections. It was interesting. There’s a part in the documentary where you talk about it as an epidemic, and as you are dealing with some of the different cases of violence. Not only is your baby brother taken, but you yourself had been shot. You know your life has been touched by this in so many different ways.
Big Freedia: Most definitely, I’ve been dealing with it since I was a kid growing up here in New Orleans, since I was a young adult and happened to see this, you know, on a everyday scale, just maybe coming out my front door, not knowing if I’m going to see somebody laying on the ground shot or not.
Jon: You also talk in the documentary a lot about the the trauma of it, just the PTSD of living in those communities. Now, I don’t want to also forget about, but there’s a lot of parts of the documentary that are really joyful. You know that that show what you love about New Orleans and how the community there really embraces each other and lives joyfully and even in difficult conditions and times finds a way to celebrate.
Big Freedia: Yeah, we are tough city, you know, but we do find ways to celebrate, even in death. We don’t take their lives for granted, and we definitely want to celebrate our people even in that, you know, in times where we lose people. It has been really rough. New Orleanians, we have to suck up the tears and really just go ahead and move forward. A lot of times I tell people here in New Orleans, most of the time we just have to keep praying and pushing. And I think that’s with us pulling together as a whole and supporting each other.
Jon: You talked a little bit about, you know, New Orleans being really territorial. I think our knowledge of New Orleans is generally from, you know, tourists. We’re interlopers. We come in and we take advantage of all the richness of the culture there, but we don’t think so much about, you know, and you talked about how in certain projects, you know, Josephine doesn’t get along with Magnolia, and Ninth Ward doesn’t get along with Third Ward. And and this is all passed down to these kids. It really focused on interpersonal beef, as they called it.
Big Freedia: Yeah, it stems down from, you know, different generations of young men that has been been whole in beef with other territories and different wards. And so as they teach in their younger cousins and their younger brothers.
Jon: Mm hmm.
Big Freedia: And that same mentality. But like I tell them, the neighborhood’s going to be here when you’re dead and gone.
Jon: Mm hmm.
Big Freedia: It’s a big problem here in New Orleans.
Jon: Was music the way that you were able to put your energy not into that kind of territorial fighting, but into something else that you felt filled you up?
Big Freedia: Church was my outlet. That was my safe haven. It was, you know, the people at the church and the community around the church. They love me. They helped protect me. You know, a lot of times when people say they come to a Freedia show they feel like they’ve been to a revival, you know?
Big Freedia: Honestly, well, you know, back then I was acquired directly as well. And when I will open my hands, you know, people will open their voices and really, you know, use some power behind. And I say, right now I’m just directing the assets to go different ways.
Jon: Yes, but it’s really wonderful. And it’s so I think in some ways when you watch it, I think what’s so heartbreaking, it feels like we have let you down. It almost feels like we’ve allowed this city that’s given us so much to suffer so greatly.
Big Freedia: I think the government has let us down.
Jon: Mm hmm.
Big Freedia: It’s not the people letting us down, it’s the government who controls these laws that can put some of these things at ease and to put in stricter gun laws and gun reforms for us to be able to be, you know, safer in our own communities it. It’s just heartbreaking to see that people who has the power to make change happen, it’s not happening.
Jon: But have you had any legislative progress from the people down there?
Big Freedia: None.
Big Freedia: People are tired. I know a lot of people are tired.
Jon: The documentary is incredibly powerful. It’s really a journey from a personal tragedy, obviously, that affected you and your – you obviously lost your brother. And then. You know, working through your own trauma. But in a really positive way to speak about.
Big Freedia: I just want people to, you know, check out “Freedia Got A Gun,” and in whatever they can do to help the situation.
Jon: Mm hmm.
Big Freedia: And let’s start having these conversations and let’s start, you know, trying to save young kids all around the world because this is not only a thing that’s happening in Louisiana, it’s happening all around the world. And how can we fix these situations? How can we fix some of these problems in the community? And I think it’s up to our government and it’s up to us as a community to help provide resources to give better opportunities to our next generation.
Jon: Well, the documentary “Freedia Got A Gun,” it’s really powerful. Your spirit is infused throughout it. It’s really moving, really warm. And I can’t thank you enough for coming on and talking about it and also for making the film and just for being Big Freedia.
Big Freedia: Thank you, Jon. I appreciate it so much.
[MUSIC FADES IN]
Now That’s What I Call Petty
Jon: Alright. Next up, Tocarra Mallard. One of our fine, fine writers with some sartorial thoughts on gun ownership in a new segment called, Now That’s What I Call Petty.
[MUSIC FADES IN]
Tocarra: It’s time for another edition of, Now That’s What I Call Petty. Mm hmm. Hi, my name is Tocarra and I’m a writer on the show. Enough pleasantries. I have something very important to say and very little time to say it. There should be a dress code for gun ownership. If you’re going to exercise your right to carry a gun, can you please also exercise your rights not look like you frequently get kicked out of Toby Keith concerts. Keep in mind that your outfit will be the last thing your potential victim will see. So color coordinate and stop dressing like you expect your personality to do all the work. Are you seriously going to brandish a deadly weapon while wearing jorts? Enough. Are you a patriot or a dad looking for lighter fluid for another long day on the grill? The right to pin a love song to a Glock is somewhere in the Constitution. So dress for the occasion. If having a gun is so special, buy some jeans that were made after Netflix stopped sending out DVDs. Oh, you need to take your gun to the grocery store. Then I need Black church lady on Easter Sunday energy in your outfit. Two words: power pastels. I need you to be giving me full Steve Harvey fashion renaissance, leather pants and bald head, okay? I’m talking 10s across the board. I would more enthusiastically defend your right to have a gun in your holster if I liked your outfit. Petty, I know.
[MUSIC FADES OUT]
Jon: That is the end of our podcast for the day.
Chelsea: I have already popped a Xanax.
Jon: You have popped a Xanax, but you’re here, man.
Chelsea: I’m still yeah, I still have to work. I still have to run your show. But like, are you okay that I popped a Xanax?
Jon: I prefer you to run the show on at least a Xanax.
Jon: Thank you.
Chelsea: Ok, bye!
Jon: If you are looking for more information on gun control or domestic violence resources, head to our website. Sign up for the newsletter. Or you can also check out the good work of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms. As always, if you haven’t seen the Apple TV+ show, please check that out. And there is a link to that in the show notes, which I know you read diligently because I read them diligently. By the way, we will be taking a break next week for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, but we are going to be back the following Thursday. Very excited for, I guess, that week talking to Steve Kerr, and he’s going to talk about how this year he is going to throw the NBA championship to the New York Knicks. That’s right, Steve Kerr is going to talk about how the Golden State Warriors are going to do everything in their power to make sure that the New York Knickerbockers are victorious. Bing Bong. Tune in for that. See you then.
Jon: The Problem with Jon Stewart podcast is an Apple TV+ podcast and a joint Busboy production.