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.
I am screaming this to you: Tuesday, January 23, 2018, two Marshall County High School students went to school and were shot dead by a fellow student with a hand gun. The students who died were Bailey Nicole Holt, 15 years old and Preston Ryan Cope, also 15 years old. Twelve other students were hit with gun fire and five of these students are in critical condition. The shooter was 15 years old.
Did you hear me. Kids were shot and killed today at school. AGAIN. AGAIN.
And the news of a high school shooting was reduced to a chyron on the TV screen.
On Thursday, December 7, 2017, Casey Marquez and Francisco Fernandez went to school. They were students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. Casey was 17 years old. Francisco was 18 years old. They never came home from school. They were shot dead at school.
On December 6, 2017, the House passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This will permit concealed carry license holders to conceal a handgun in other states.
No single legislation will prevent gun violence and no single legislation causes gun violence, but the national attitude prevents a change in the gun culture that is part of the American fabric.
The gun culture kills. Our youth are being killed at school. Our youth are being killed at concerts. Our youth are being killed at malls. Our youth are being shot and killed.
Casey and Francisco are dead. They were shot at school.
In 1987 the term road rage was coined in response to a rash of Los Angeles freeway shootings. The term shifts blame from human behavior to the road. There are about 1,200 incidents of road rage reported each year in the United States. There are about 1,200 incidents of humans inflicting harm in some way to fellow drivers reported each year in the United States. The road does not rage-a person rages-a driver rages.
On Saturday December 17, 2016, Acen King was a victim of driver rage. Acen’s grandmother, Kim King-Macon, was behind the wheel and at a stop sign when the driver of a black 2003 Chevy Impala honked the horn at her. Kim King-Macon honked back, and the driver, apparently angry that the grandmother was not moving fast enough, exited his car and opened fire on her car striking Acen who was in the back seat.
Acen was 3 years old. Acen was not killed by a road raging he was killed by a bad person who got out of his car and pointed a gun at another car and shot a bullet into that car with the intent to kill. A gun in the hands of a person kills-a road does not kill. When we, as a people, start taking direct responsibility for harm done by humans, then maybe children like Acen will not have to die.
Jacob Hall went to school on September 28, 2016 ready to learn and ready to have a fun day. He was in first grade. Jacob was shot while playing in the playground. Jacob tragically died from the gunshot wound on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Jacob’s mom said that “He showed us how to love, laugh and smile even on days we did not want to,” Jacob lost his young life because a 14-year-old boy had a gun.
The family of Jacob Hall describe him as an example of “pure love.”
The second weekend in June 2016 was horrible. It was horrible because on June 10, 2016, Christina Grimmie was shot to death. It was horrible because on June 11, 2016, 49 people at the Pulse Club were shot to death. Now the number of victims from gun violence will include these deaths. The new total will include the death of these 50 people. These people who died will become hash marks in the never ending death count from gun violence. But these people are not hash marks they were sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Some were short, some were tall, some were serious some were carefree, some were men some were women. We the people of America must see each death from gun violence as individuals, as our brothers and our sisters. Only then can we see that we the people of America must make changes in our gun laws. We the people must have the courage to do the right thing. Change is slow but change only happens when there is a start. The start must happen. These victims are not hash marks, they were members of our community.