American singer-songwriter John Legend criticises 'death cult' US gun laws after Texas shooting

John Legend told ITV News Reporter Ria Chatterjee of his personal disbelief that the gun threat is so big in America that children, including his own, have to take part in active shooter drills at schools

Singer-songwriter John Legend criticised America's "death cult" gun laws and described how his children practiced active shooter drills in case someone walked into school with a weapon.

Legend, 43, said the US was failing to act after a string of deadly tragedies in a country where the gun lobby has money and power to influence politics.

On Tuesday, a mass shooting at a Texas primary school killed 19 children and two adults, including a teacher. The suspect was 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who police have described as "an evil person" with a "complete disregard for human life".

'It's a death cult'

"In Texas and other states around the country, they're loosening gun laws," John Legend told ITV News.

"They're seeing the rise in gun crime, they're seeing these mass shootings that we see on the news every week or so.

"And they're saying, you know what we should do? We should make guns more easily available, make them less monitored, less regulated. It's extremely backwards and frustrating.

"And these are the same people that claim to be pro-life, but they're not pro-life. It's a death cult, in my opinion," he added.

Salvador Ramos, 18, was identified as the suspected gunman in Texas by police

Legend, who lives in America, said the country should press for change in the face of a hugely influential gun lobby that did not represent the majority of opinion.

"People have to rise up and they have to make politicians pay the price for allowing the status quo to continue," Legend said.

"But what we also have in the United States is a system of campaigns finance where politicians are insulated from the public by their big donors, so these big donors can throw lots of money at them.

"They don't need donations from individuals, they don't need donations from ordinary folks.

"They just have lots of big money insulating them from public opinion and the gun reforms that people are asking for are very popular.

"So if we were a true representative democracy, those gun laws would have been passed by now.

"But these senators feel like they're insulated from the public opinion and public outcry," he explained.

Legend said that fire and tornado drills had been replaced by active shooter drills in schools.

"I have to take my daughter and my son to school knowing that that could happen in our country," he added.

The multi-award winning record producer spoke during a visit to London where he worked with a group of young musicians and poets unable to go to mainstream schools.

John Legend said children's humanity and perspective should be valued

The group wrote a new song together to help draw their lives and experiences together in an event organised and hosted at London's Royal Albert Hall.

He added: "I've never done a workshop quite like this with young students writing a new song together.

"And it's interesting because a lot of them didn't know each other. And we, you know, everyone's coming from different experiences and different specialties and some of them do write songs.

"Some of them haven't really written them before. Some of them write poetry."

John Legend has won twelve Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award, making Legend the first African-American man to earn an EGOT - the achievement of having won all four of the major American entertainment awards.

He has also announced a special one-off show at The Royal Albert Hall, on 5th April 2023 as he prepares to release his eighth studio album later this year.

Fans pre-ordering Legends album can get access to pre-sale tickets. General tickets go on sale on 27th May 27 at 9am.

Unscripted is ITV News' arts and entertainment podcast, brought to you by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar. In each episode, Nina speaks to a leading name from the world of arts and entertainment.