How Cartoonists Tackle Gun Culture After Highland Park Filming

Sandy Hook Elementary School. San Bernardino. Stoneman Douglas High School. Uvalde. AR-15 type weapons are so common in American mass shootings that graphic journalist Mike Thompson read about rifles and asked himself a question:

How difficult would it be to get a gun “that can fire the standard bullet used by NATO troops at 3,000 feet per second”, as he put it?

The Detroit-area entertainer and entertainer went to two gun shows to find out. He then turned the project into an illustrated feature he had already planned to publish on Tuesday, the day after the July 4 parade mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, that killed seven people.

“The answer, unfortunately, is that it’s mind-bogglingly simple to get such a weapon,” says Thompson, a former Detroit Free Press and USA Today cartoonist. He spent about two weeks producing an illustration and an animated video released by Counterpoint.

Thompson says he has “no problem” with people possessing guns for self-defense – but not just any gun.

“My concern with the AR-15 is the speed of the weapon – which is incredibly high – the type of ammunition it can fire and the fact that it can easily be modified to be fully automatic,” says Thompson, who noted, “There is no need for civilians to possess such incredibly powerful weapons and there is no need for anyone outside of the military to possess such ammunition.

In creating the project, the artist, who didn’t have much prior experience with gun culture, says he was struck by “how polite and kind everyone was at both shows. weapons that I have visited. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the courtesy of sellers and potential buyers, versus the fact that AR-15 type rifles were offered for sale.

Ultimately, his cartoon shows how quick the background check was – and how quickly he was able to walk off a show with a “battlefield-ready” weapon.

Here’s what some artists told The Washington Post about the work they’ve created since the Highland Park shootings:

“The tragic events in Highland Park served as a very somber reminder of the frantic pace of mass shootings in the United States this year. So when I returned to the newsroom on Tuesday, I wasn’t just thinking madness that had happened the day before – I was thinking of the madness that, on average, has plagued this country every day of 2022. Living in a shooting range seemed to capture the insecurity of life in America. The fact that this gallery is exploited by the NRA seemed to correctly credit those most responsible for this insecurity.

—Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

“In coming up with the idea, I thought about how we as Americans celebrate our freedom and independence each year while feeling increasingly fearful for our family, friends and fellow citizens – while maniacs continue to have access to military-grade weapons. Americans need to wake up and vote for those who don’t want to counter the NRA.”

—Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Mass shootings are like a Mobius strip, and I get tired of trying to comment on something that American society isn’t moving fast enough to prevent. It’s like ‘The NRA presents ‘Groundhog Day.’ I thought about the appalling damage these monsters and their federal enablers are inflicting on the social order, and how commenting on that is practically pointless and emotionally horrifying.

—Jack Ohman The Sacramento Bee

“The cartoon was obviously created because of the Highland Park shootings, but I think it applies to many mass shootings. When these tragedies first occur and there is little or no information, I see people on social media immediately speculating about the race and political affiliations of the shooter. I think people are searching and trying to make sense of these senseless acts. With no answers, we guess.

—Tim Campbell, Counterpoint

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