Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
December's Newtown, Conn., school shootings hit Arnold Schwarzenegger on a personal level.
The former California governor has four children with his now-estranged wife Maria Shriver, so the deaths of 20 schoolchildren was especially hard to grasp.
"You have kids, so you just immediately imagine what it would be like to have kids in that school," he says. "You cannot even relate to it when something like this happens. How horrific it is for the kids."
Yet Schwarzenegger has no problem with his new movie, the violent, shoot-em-up The Last Stand, coming out Friday in the aftermath because he believes that movies do not promote real gun violence: "It's entertainment, people know the difference."
Adds Last Stand producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, "Sane people know the difference."
"We have to separate the two," Schwarzenegger says of film violence and actual violence. "What's most important it that we as a society do a better job to prevent these sort of things. You cannot totally eliminate them. There will always be some crazy guy out there shooting. There are mentally ill people. The question is, what can we do?"
Schwarzenegger, who favored gun-control measures while governor, believes people who say Hollywood is partially to blame are misguided.
"It's finger-pointing," he says. "I wouldn't just go pointing at the NRA that it's their fault. Or video games. Or gun manufacturers. The reality is, it's a very complex issue."
Schwarzenegger says there is an opportunity now for a larger discussion on solving the problem. In the meantime, he can only question what would cause someone like Newtown shooter Adam Lanza to snap.
"Look, anyone that makes the first shot their mother, you know that does not come from a movie," says Schwarzenegger. "It's mental illness. Insanity. If we don't address that, we don't have much."