The Navy Yard Shooting And The Campaign to Save Lives by Bill Day

Several years ago I decided to start a cartoon series to address the problems of infant mortality and child abuse in my city of Memphis, Tennessee. Unknown to many people, Memphis has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation. I put these cartoons on large posters and showed them across Memphis to bring these problems to light. In the process of doing them, I learned that the appalling poverty, which is the reason for such a high infant mortality and child abuse, is also the biggest reason for such a high rate of gun fatalities. Children often get caught in the crossfire of guns. They are the accidental victims drive-by shootings, adult anger and the poor care of firearms. Of course, children are not the only victims. Teenagers and adults who are killed with guns every year fill our cemeteries. The plain truth is that the gun culture which exists in this nation is out of control.

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was a wake up call for me that something must be done. I was so outraged at the loss of all those children and adults that I started a cartoon campaign on gun control and the banning of assault-style rifles. Whenever I have a chance, I’ll do a cartoon addressing this national horror. To date, I’ve done more than a dozen cartoons. I hope to put these on large posters and show them  to churches and civic groups. This effort has put me in direct confrontation with the National Rifle Association. I have been vilified beyond my wildest imagination by this organization and some of its members.  Every cartoon I have done has been targeted by them on editorial pages and blogs. I have been called every dirty name and I have received every foul epithet possible. I’ve even been smeared for my efforts by other cartoonists.

So be it. I do it because it is the right thing to do.

On Monday, the slaughter of innocent people was renewed again in Washington D.C. at the Navy Shipyard. The weapons used or how they were obtained was not the issue for me. The issue for me is how the NRA continues the promotion of the gun culture and the continued loss of life as a result. It is insanity.

I drew my most recent cartoon (seen at top) on the Navy Shipyard murders thinking I would surely be vilified again. However, an amazing thing has happened! Last night I checked my emails, expecting the worst, and discovered that U.S. Congressman Stephen Cohen, who supports gun control, had used my cartoon in a tweet. With Congress in session in Washington, Congressman Cohen was furious at the loss of life and the continued NRA purchase of his colleagues. He decided to tweet the cartoon I drew because it said visually what he felt. That tweet was re-tweeted thousands of times all over the country! His tweet and my cartoon was even used as a news story on a Memphis TV station. The cartoon has also been shared nationwide over Facebook, The Pragmatic Progressive Page, The Big Slice, and syndication use on Caglecartoons. Congressman Cohen sent me his phone number and asked me to call him. We spent an hour talking about the shooting in Washington, about my efforts with cartoons and his efforts with legislation. I am very grateful for his help.

For the first time, I’m beginning to feel like progress is being made. For the first time, I’m beginning to think that all the abuse I’ve received has been worth it. For the first time, I’m beginning to feel like people are paying attention to those of us who work so hard to change the gun culture in America.

As temporary as it will be, it is a darn good feeling.



Author: The Blue Route

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