Kids and Guns Michael Faris “We've had enough of thoughts and prayers. . . To every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. No longer can you fly under the radar doing whatever it is that you want to do. . . We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action.” Delaney Tarr, survivor of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida
There were 3,143 children between the ages of one and nineteen killed by firearms in the United States in 2016. That was 15% of the total deaths among children, and the second leading cause of death, behind only motor vehicle incidents, is firearm-related incidents. Homicides accounted for 1,865 of children and adolescent deaths by firearm, suicide for 1,102 deaths, and accidents or undetermined reasons for 126 deaths. The circumstances surrounding the remaining 50 deaths were too unclear to be categorized in this way. Although mass school shootings are breathtaking in their callous and terrible nature, they account for less than two percent of the firearm deaths of children in this country, which is still way too many.
Through my artwork, I have documented the ways that children are affected by firearm incidents in this country. The works include scenes of deadly incidents involving children, the tragic effects and results of gun violence, the enculturation of children into gun culture, the reckless way adults handle firearms in the proximity of children, and the insensitive way that adults have reacted to the deaths of thousands of children in recent years.
These works include drawings, oil paintings, monoprints, sculptures, digital works, and conceptual works. For some of the works, I used traditional media that children use, such as crayons or potato prints. I produced twenty-one works for this show. This group of works will be titled Kids and Guns, which was the title of one of my first works in this series. I will exhibit these works in universities, colleges, community arts centers, and any other venues that will show the work.
I intend for this exhibit to work as a tool of enlightenment, to demonstrate the dreadful nature of gun violence and its effects on children. Many people in the United States feel that the deaths of these children are just the price we pay for our Second Amendment interpretations. Others of us feel that we are paying too high a price for a strict, exaggerated interpretation of the Amendment. Although I have no fantasies about saving the world or even initiating more sensible gun control in this country, if even one parent goes home and locks up his or her pistol, or one person decides to change his or her vote, or one child lives because of someone seeing one of these heartbreaking works, the exhibit will have been worth the effort.