Are there words enough to stop the guns?

11.03.2013
One of the posters in AIGA's call for entries in its "end gun violence" campaign

Can art inform action?

It is almost three months to the day after the massacre of the innocents in Newtown—a before-and-after moment that, like September 11, was supposed to “change things.”

So what’s changed? The usual suspects (the NRA, the president, Second Amendment absolutists, gun opponents, doctors, victims and their families, members of Congress, advocacy organizations) have all said their piece. They have postured for the cameras. They have held their hearings. A few weeks ago, an ad for the Dulles Gun Show (in the Washington Post no less) urged attendees to “buy your guns while you still can.”  (Whatever happened to advertising standards? A subject for another post.)

So the slaughter continues. Slate’s gun-death tracker reports an estimated 2590 people in America have died as a result of gun violence since Newtown. (By contrast, there have been 2181 military casualties in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.)

Of all the millions of dollars spent on the issue of gun violence, “Demand a plan” (a campaign of Mayors Against Illegal Guns”) seems to be the most fair-minded (at least, if you’re on the anti-gun side). The website is designed for action—calling on Congress to act, specifically to require background checks, criminalize gun-trafficking and ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Like Michael Bloomberg, one of the mayors behind the site, it doesn’t mince words.

AIGA is also getting into the act, inviting members to submit a nonpartisan public-awareness poster to the “End Gun Violence” project. Their goal: to harness the profession’s creativity to command the public’s attention and help effect a solution. You can see the collaborative poster conversation here. (The work featured in this post was designed by Jonathan Cumberland.)

Still, Slate’s statistic is haunting. When it comes to arms and the man, it would seem that some things never change.

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