Exclusive: Alyssa Milano says 'right-wing propaganda ambushes' don't fuel her passion for gun reform — as her anti-NRA coalition takes on Bank of America

Alyssa Milano, founder of NoRA, reading a list of demands during a protest against the NRA in Dallas on May 5, 2018. (Photo: AP Photo/Rex Curry)
Alyssa Milano, founder of NoRA, reading a list of demands during a protest against the NRA in Dallas on May 5, 2018. (Photo: AP Photo/Rex Curry)

Alyssa Milano and her No Rifle Association coalition aren’t backing down — whether it’s when dealing with pro-NRA types screaming “hypocrite” at her at a NoRA protest, which happened last weekend, or now as the group takes one of the largest banks in the United States, Bank of America, to task for failing to keep its promise to stop financing military-style firearms for civilian use.

Milano and members of the coalition, including Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Morgan Freeman, Mia Farrow, Michael Moore, Olivia Munn, Don Cheadle, Chelsea Handler, and Ashley Judd, along with Stoneman Douglas High School survivor David Hogg, signed a letter sent to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan on Thursday. It criticizes him, saying “you flipped on your promise to the American people” by continuing to “loan more than $43 million to Remington Arms,” which is America’s oldest gunmaker. The letter from NoRA says:

Earlier this week, it was reported that Bank of America is still working with Remington after the company filed for bankruptcy in March and is contributing $43 million to a $193 million loan package for the failing company. This came after B of A Vice Chairman Anne Finucane told Bloomberg in April that the company had implemented a new policy to stop lending to makers of assault-style guns. As noted in the NoRA letter, Remington made the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the 2012 Newtown, Conn., mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which killed 26 people, including 20 children.

CNN reported that B of A’s deal to help bail out Remington was made before the company announced its new policy on guns. A source told the news organization, “This was a commitment that predated the comments in April, and because of the complexities of the bankruptcy, it’s a commitment that we’re keeping.”

So that’s why NoRA sent the letter, Milano tells Yahoo Entertainment. While she says it’s a positive step that the bank won’t be financing these weapons in the future, she adds: “They haven’t done anything to get out of financing Remington’s bankruptcy, and the result is going to be that more people in America are going to die. We need them to lead all the way — to withdraw from the financing, even if it costs them money or draws out the process. We don’t want Remington’s bankruptcy to be fast; we need it to be right.”

A phone call on Thursday that included NoRA representatives, other gun violence prevention advocates, and Bank of America, was productive and led to “a really good discussion,” Milano says. “Bank of America, to their credit, reiterated their commitment to fully and completely divest from the funding of companies who manufacture assault weapons, and we’re excited to work with them in pushing the rest of the financial industry forward. They are saying many of the right things, but we need to see those statements turn into action — starting with Remington.”

Bank of America released a statement on Thursday, which was posted by Igor Volsky from the Center for American Progress and Guns Down America. It states that the bank’s new policy remains unchanged and that it “will dictate our future actions after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude.”

The formation of NoRA was announced after the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Florida, and in addition to calling for gun reform, such as stronger background checks and laws to prevent people with violent histories from buying guns, the celebrities and activists who support the group are spotlighting the NRA’s spending in American politics. They are calling out the stranglehold the gun lobby has on the country’s political system. They previously released an open letter to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Alyssa Milano appears with gun control advocates during a protest outside of the annual NRA convention in Dallas on May 5, 2018. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Alyssa Milano appears with gun control advocates during a protest outside of the annual NRA convention in Dallas on May 5, 2018. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Over the weekend, Milano was at a NoRA event in Dallas, blocks from the NRA’s annual convention, when some NRA supporters ambushed her, calling her a “hypocrite” because they thought a member of NoRA’s event security was armed. Milano made it clear to the men who were filming her in the footage, which appeared on NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch’s show, that she’s not anti-gun. Her husband, David Bugliari of Creative Arts Agency, owns guns, she said, adding that if the security guard at the event was carrying a gun, which she didn’t confirm, he “had training and passed a background check.” Milano said it’s “common-sense gun reform policies” that NoRA is “fighting for for everyone.” And, as she said to the crowd at the rally, “I do not think that it should be as easy to buy an AR-15 as it is to get a caramel macchiato at a Starbucks.”

Asked about the ambush and whether it fuels her passion for the cause, Milano tells us: “Right-wing propaganda ambushes of a desperate fringe don’t fuel my passion — they are insignificant. The 100 or more Americans who are killed by guns every day do. Khary Penebaker, who lost his mom, Joyce, to preventable gun suicide does. The corruption of our government by the nearly unlimited money of the NRA does. The racism of the NRA leadership, who projected DeRay Mckesson and Black Lives Matter activists on their enemies screen in Dallas does. Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver, whose children were killed in Parkland, and Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter was killed in Aurora do. The 100 Americans who will die tomorrow if we don’t fix this do. I don’t need Dana Loesch to fuel my passion; I have the truth of gun violence in America to do it.”

Milano with Khary Penebaker at the NoRA rally in Dallas:

With @kharyp at the #NoRA rally yesterday.

A post shared by Alyssa Milano (@milano_alyssa) on May 6, 2018 at 1:12pm PDT

During the exchange, Milano tried to tell the shouting men that she’d like “to have a conversation” and find a way to “bridge this divide.” She said that except for that two-minute snippet, she felt she had a lot of productive conversations over the weekend.

Those men screaming at me were doing it so they could get on the NRA’s propaganda channel,” she says. “They are not representative of the vast majority of gun owners, who are not NRA members. We did bridge the divide, over and over again in Dallas. We had conversations with gun owners, and most of those conversations found common ground and had friendly resolutions. The NRA doesn’t represent its members; it represents gun companies. We need to break their funding cycle and let government have an honest discussion about gun violence. There’s more common ground than the NRA wants anyone to believe, but I’m confident we’ll win.”

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