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Sep 25, 2013

It's Time to End an Abusive Relationship– with Guns

Last week we witnessed what has become an all-too common American spectacle, yet another mass shooting. This time the setting could not have been more appropriately symbolic, as it happened in our nation's capital.

The standard NRA argument is that the answer to this kind of violent outburst is more guns.  But the fallacy of this thinking is revealed in what one law enforcement officer at the scene apparently said, “It was unclear whether[the shooter] had brought all the guns with him, or if he had taken one or more of them from his victims.”

Can you imagine what this tragedy could have looked like if some of the people on the scene responded with arms of their own? What if 2 or 3 others when they heard shots in the building drew their guns and went looking for the shooter? What if 10 people responded to that crisis by drawing guns of their own? How is every person with a gun in a crisis like this not seen as a killer? Every gun bearer becomes both a killer and a target, exploding the potential for mayhem!
In the short time since the Aurora CO incident, 23 mass killings have taken place in the US, taking 126 lives, and most of those never even made the national news. To put this into perspective, since 1949, in America only 12 shootings have each resulted in 12 or more deaths. Three of those have occurred in the last 2 years. The annual US death toll from firearms is 32,000 deaths and has been for each of the past 24 years, an entire generation. If this were any other nation we'd call that a civil war!


One of the surgeons who treated the wounded in the recent case had become an instant heroine with her comments to the media. Dr. Janice Orlowski, said in part, “I heard a police officer being interviewed. he said Americans are going to have to get used to more mass killings. you know what? i refuse to believe that's our future....There's something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate...Let's get rid of this. This is not America."

I agree with her. We must come to realize that the world has changed since the 2nd amendment. As much as we'd like to think that all one citizen needs to protect themselves in a dangerous world is a gun, that idea is obsolete. Face it, if the government wants to take away your freedoms, your gun is not going to help and not just because– hello?– they have drones.

We have to grow up and take a long look at what freedom means and where it comes from.  It's threats no longer come from kings with armies– like 200 years ago– but from secret sources that convince us to give up our freedoms voluntarily for our own protection. Yes, we must still fight for our precious freedoms, but the world has changed! We must balance individual rights against the equally cherished concept of public safety. Only by having serious, open, public conversations will we as mature adults, as concerned citizens, as compassionate human beings, celebrate a nation with liberty and justice for all.




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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.