Cortese Composes For Common Sense Gun Laws


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George Cortese, a music producer now living in Verona, often visits Paterson. Not only did he grow up there, but he was born there as well. One day in 2013, he was walking around the city looking for a friend that he’d lost track of over the years. He went up to a group sitting on a bench in Lou Costello park and asked whether anyone had seen this friend around town.

“Well who is asking?” said one of the members of the group suspiciously.

After mentioning that the friend he was looking for was a rapper that he had worked with, Cortese was about to turn his back and walk off, when a member of the group said, “Hold up hold up! You’re his producer? Let me hit you with a freestyle real quick.” The man who said that was James Murphy Jr., a 39-year-old former resident of Paterson, currently based in Brooklyn.

That was how an unlikely collaboration began. Two men with different upbringings, ages, ethnicities and social positions who nonetheless had two important similarities–the love of music and the love of common sense.

“Common Sense” is the latest creation of these two very different but similar men. The message of the song and its accompanying video is that common sense is needed in regard to today’s gun laws in America. “There’s no need to continue to argue whether or not the Second Amendment is good or bad while innocent American children are being slaughtered in their own schools,” says Cortese. “That purely abstract political debate changes nothing about the practical reality of the fact that the latest 18-year-old school shooter in Florida was able to buy an assault rifle legally, a weapon which should not be so easy to obtain because of its sheer destructiveness.”

Through the song, Cortese and Murphy identify the solution: Common sense, a common sense that puts politics and profits aside when dealing with human life. If America wants to do something about its school shooting problem, it has do something to make these devastating weapons less easy to purchase.

Not only have the two of them created a song, but also a T-shirt to go along with it, that repeats the same message with a design that reads “People over Guns”. All of the money generated by these t-shirts will be donated to the most recent victims of America’s mass shootings.

“To all of you impacted by mass shootings, we will support you and continue the call for action,” says Murphy of the joint effort. “Many times in history things look like they were not about to change yet they did. We need to keep the momentum and push continuously for change.”

Common sense often goes out of fashion. Thomas Paine, who argued for Americans to wake up and fight against injustice in 1776, knew this when he wrote in his famous pamphlet (which he also called Common Sense): “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

Emphasizing their similarities rather than their differences, Cortese and Murphy decided to come together and create something positive. America needs to do the same thing. And the time seems to be coming in America where people will put their political, ethnic, and economic differences aside and finally admit the fact that a disastrous epidemic of gun violence actually exists, and that contemporary gun laws have done nothing to eliminate it and everything to enable it.

Cortese made the t-shirts above to emphasize his mission and all profits from the sale of the shirts will go to Everytown For Gun Safety. You can buy them online here.

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