Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another Day in America

This week's Stepback Saturday is sparked by yet another episode of America's Well-Regulated Militia run amok.

I could start this review of my old cartoons of previous gun murders anywhere, but I'm going to start with this one from March, 1996.
The National Rifle Association and its stooges in all levels of government often respond to any call for gun control with the tiresome and disingenuous trope that if we'd only just enforce the gun control laws that we already have, yadda, yadda, yadda. What action they have taken, however, is to repeal as many of those already existing laws as they can, and to defund enforcement of the laws that remain.

In April, 1999, two well-regulated militia high school students tucked an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons under their trench coats and put Columbine High School on the map.

Mass shootings at the workplace were already old hat by this time. If a sentence includes the word "disgruntled," you can be sure that it also includes a body count.

Numbers of casualties alone should not be the only thing that shocks us. This cartoon from March, 2000 was occasioned by the shooting of a very young girl by a very young boy. I forget whether the lad knew he had a real, loaded gun or not. If this had been the only time such a tragedy had ever happened, I'm sure that you and I would both remember the details.

When I first decided upon the theme of this blog entry, I thought I might only have a few cartoons to choose from, since most of the cartoons I've drawn in the current millennium have been for the Milwaukee Business Journal and the gay press, and gun violence isn't a prominent issue for either of them. Since the Beej no longer wanted my cartoons by the time a neo-Nazi shot up the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in 2012, I drew no cartoons on gun violence for them; but it turns out that I've drawn too many cartoons for Q Syndicate about gun fatalities to include all of them today.

The inspiration behind this cartoon was a widely published photo of a middle school student who was shot at his school; in the photo, he had a caterpillar in his hand.  If a fellow student had not decided that bringing a gun to school and shooting a classmate in the back of the head was the most appropriate response to unwanted advances, Lawrence King would be 22 now.

My intention was not to include the names of the gunmen in these incidents, but I can't avoid it in the case of a drifter who claimed that a lifetime of teasing over his last name was the reason that he sought out a crowded Roanoke, Virginia gay bar and started shooting.
I bring up this particular case in part because of the coincidence that a shooting 15 years later in Roanoke, on live television, seems to have inspired the Umpqua Community College shooter to aspire to the same sort of lasting infamy. Yet, unless you have some close connection to the Roanoke gay community, I'll bet you had totally forgotten all about Mr. Gay.

There was no LGBT connection to the mass shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre... least not for most of us. But some people are determined that guns have nothing to do with gun violence, and will blame anything, anything, ANYTHING else.

And the beat goes on.

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