I am a visual artist. My work has always been grounded in issues from living the day to day. I see the visual world as a mirror of human priorities. My work is meant to initiate an examination of the inherent responsibility that goes with living.
On May 24, 2022, an 18-year-old fatally shot nineteen children and two teachers and wounded seventeen others at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The children were in the fourth grade. The children were watching a movie when the killer came into their classroom with an assault rifle, and killed them.
How do the people who oppose banning the sale/ownership of assault weapons stay in power? They stay in power because they are elected to represent the people of their state. They are not hiding their position on gun control. These representatives state very bluntly that they support the sale/ownership of weapons of war. We, as Americans, are letting this happen over and over again.
If your state has a government official who is pro assault weapons, who is against gun control on any level, then you, as a citizen of that state, must make your voice heard.
Hear in your head the children in that forth grade classroom screaming and crying. See in your mind’s eye the carnage that the assault rifle caused to those small bodies.
The shooting at the Robb Elementary School does not only belong to Texas. That shooting and all the shootings, belong to every American. We as citizens of America, must make the change happen.
On Valentine’s Day 2022, the Alvarez family were on their way to a special family dinner in Huston, Texas. Armando Alvarez made a stop at a drive-thru ATM. As he waited in line a robbery took place. There was gun fire and Armando told his family to duck down in the car. Nine-year-old Arlene Alvarez was sitting in the backseat of her parents’ car wearing headphones and she did not hear the warning. Arlene was shot in the head and killed.
This tragedy happened because Tony Earls was robbed $20 dollars at the ATM. He was carrying a gun so he pulled out his gun and randomly started shooting. His gun fire struck Arlene and killed her.
If Tony Earls had not been carrying a gun on that Valentine’s Day, Arlene Alvarez would be alive.
Seventy two million people report as owning guns in the USA.
On November 30, 2021, students left home to go to Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, thinking it was going to be a normal school day. But it was not a normal school day. At about 12:51 p.m.,15-year-old Ethan Crumbley left a boy’s bathroom with the gun his father bought four days earlier. He fired at students in the hallway and he killed four schoolmates and wounded six other students and one teacher. The four students who did not come home to their families because they were shot dead at school by a peer, are 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
There have been at least 29 school shootings in 2021. Eight children have been killed in shootings in schools this year and 48 have been injured. America holds the world record for school shootings.
The gun culture is alive and well in America, while Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling are dead.
“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is stated in the United States Declaration of Independence. A gun’s only purpose is to kill and take away “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Guns take away these rights that America is founded on.
Trinity Ottoson-Smith was shot in the head on May 15 in north Minneapolis during a birthday party. She was jumping on a trampoline when she was struck by a bullet. She was hit by a stray bullet fired at another residence. Trinity was nine years old. Let me say this again-Trinity was nine years old. For twelve days she fought for her life, but on May 27, 2021 she died.
Trinity wanted to be a teacher. She was shot in the head jumping on a trampoline. The gun culture in America is killing our children. The phrase “only in America” has new meaning.
As we celebrated the gift of love that a mother bestows on her children, shots were fired at people from Colorado Springs to Phoenix to a Baltimore suburb to California to Newark to Milwaukee to St Louis. People were shot dead or hit with a bullet tearing into one’s flesh. For too many this Mother’s Day weekend was not a celebration of love, but a time for grieving.
It seems that as the corona virus retreats gun violence increases. Does our America need a new warning: Be careful where you go, be careful because there are too many guns, too many short tempers, too little respect for life?
On April 15, 2021 at 11 pm at the Indianapolis FedEx facility, it was a normal evening. Some workers were ending their shift and others were taking a break, heading to their cars to eat and relax before returning to work, and others were working in the facility. It was a normal evening until it was a tragic evening. A man with a gun came to this FedEx facility in Indianapolis on that normal evening and opened fire in the parking lot and inside the building. Eight people were killed – shot down instantly – ending their lives in pools of blood. It was a normal evening until it wasn’t.
On April 30, 2019 at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Riley Howell, 21, was shot dead point blank while protecting his classmates from a school shooter.
On May 7, 2019 at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver , Kendrick Castillo, 18, was shot dead point blank while protecting his classmates from a school shooter.
These two young men are heroes. Riley and Kendrick both rushed a shooter so that their classmates had a chance to escape being shot.
Wrap your mind around this-children and young adults are being faced with the choice of being shot as part of a mass shooting or being shot as a hero who sacrifices one’s life to protect one’s classmates.
Children and young adults are being taught Run, Hide, Fight. Fight with nothing but an unprotected body. Fight with no training. A fight which can only result in a sacrifice when the fight is against a loaded gun.
We must understand what we are asking our students to do. We must take responsibility for every school shooting death and injury. It is our collective guilt because, as a country, we have not seriously addressed the school shooting crisis.
On September 5, 2018, Delmonte Johnson was 19 years old. As a young man who lived in Chicago on the South Side, he knew the tragedy that gun violence brings to families and to community. Delmonte wanted to make a difference. He was an active anti gun violence advocate. He was a volunteer with GoodKids MadCity. He spearheaded fundraising to give children a chance to go to camp. He was an activist and he was shot and killed on the sidewalk of a South Side street in Chicago. The deadly bullets came from a car. The car sped away leaving Delmonte a new statistic in the toll gun violence takes on our young people across America. But he is not a hash mark, he was a brother and a son. He was a bright light. We, as part of the American community, must keep his light shinning and continue his work to stop gun violence.
5/18/18 is the day of another school shooting. Eight students and two teachers did not return home from Santa Fe High School because they were shot dead while at school. I ask America what are we going to do about the killing of our youth. Youth are gunned down in schools and on our city streets. The youth of America is the future of America. We adults are failing our youth by not making strict laws, by not rethinking the #2A. When will we start to stop the blood shed? No child should fear being shot- this is America. And shame on us – this is the America where children fear being shot.