NY Hardcore Musician, Community Advocate Justin Brannan Speaks Out for Gun Control (INTERVIEW)
"I think that in a free society it's impossible to prevent all bad things from happening, but we can certainly try. I think we have to do everything in our power to ensure what happened in Sandy Hook, and similar instances in the past, never happens again or else all those people will have died in vain," Justin Brannan, guitarist for New York hardcore groups Indecision and Most Precious Blood, tells Noisecreep.
Brannan is passionate about gun control and believes governmental action must be taken to stop future mass killings.
In addition to his music cred, Brannan is also President of the Bay Ridge Democrats, a Democratic political club in Brooklyn. He also serves as City Councilman Vincent Gentile's Communications Director. Gentile represents District 43, which includes southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and sections of Bensonhurst.
"Whether it's a conversation about gun control, mental health or security in our schools – there might not be any one panacea - but the time for national action is definitely right now," continues Brannan. "I think we all want our children to be safe in school. We all want to go to a movie or the mall without fear that some lunatic will open fire on us. Let's do whatever we can to make it as hard as possible for people to commit mass murder. If semi-automatic weapons make it easy for people to commit mass murder, then something needs done there. There's no useful purpose for semi-automatic rifles other than mass killing. These are weapons similar to the ones used by troops in Afghanistan."
While Brannan acknowledges the struggle gun control advocates face, he remains optimistic, even with a Congress seemingly in constant gridlock. For Brannan, average Americans are the key to better gun safety – not just elected officials in Washington, D.C.
"I like to think that the members of the 'reasonable people's brigade' have growing numbers. I'd like to think that people realize our responsibility that our children grow up in a carefree environment. The death of children is not part of the price of liberty. I understand the Second Amendment and all that. This is something that was written back in the day of muskets, not when we had semi-automatic rifles. Far be it from me to evoke - as most people do - the wisdom of the founding fathers. I don't want to be one of those people that does that, but I really don't think they had semi-automatic weapons in mind. I think there's definitely been a perversion of what the Second Amendment truly means. I think the Second Amendment was meant to ensure a state's right to defend itself from an invasion of a nearby state. That's what the Second Amendment is about. It's not about a guy having 30 guns in his closet."
Watch Most Precious Blood's 'Shark Ethic' Video
Brannan has enjoyed considerable press as a result of making the jump from hardcore to politics. What may seem like a strange career move for some, for Brannan, it's nothing more than a "natural progression."
"I got my start as an animal welfare activist and being in bands in the early '90s," explains Brannan. "Then [I moved on to] touring bands and it was just the nature of the music. It wasn't this hollow sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll sort of thing. It was hardcore and it had a message. We'd stay up after the show, talking in a parking lot about things that really mattered. Later, we were in the hotel room watching CNN. We had music that was pregnant with purpose and passion. For me, it was a natural progression to get into policy work and to get into effecting change within myself and the world around me. From an early age, I was drawn to the idea of helping people. Politics was the next best thing for me. I grew up listening to the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and Napalm Death. These are bands that – they might have sounded very abrasive to the untrained ear – but if you read the lyrics, they weren't singing about dungeons and dragons. They were singing about real life stuff."
For Most Precious Blood, there's an open-ended future. Brannan says the band is spread out all over the world, making getting together for live shows and recording difficult. But the band considers all offers and there has been talk of a new album. The members of Indecision still live in New York City, making live gigs easier logistically. And don't count Brannan out of a political run of his own. Like with his music, he leaves that door wide open.
Follow Brannan on Twitter: @JustinBrannan