Stop Gun Violence: What Artists Can Do To Make the Point for Sensible Gun Laws

My life has been about helping children and adults find healing, from either abuse or other difficult experiences, so speaking out against unneeded gun violence is something I must do. As a Jungian Psychologist and Artist, I had an idea I shared with Jim Eason at KGO Radio in 1972. But news about the Watergate break-in prevented him from airing our interview. I’ve never let go of this idea: to communicate, through art, that our militaristic culture, now through our gun laws, is killing Americans. With renewed student activism, now is the time to bring this idea back to the public by exploring deeper thought through artistic expression instead of superficial thinking.

Artistic expression has taught us about racial conflict, economic divides, the reasons for revolutions and even great optimism. Artists with a political purpose have created both figurative and realistic images, finding that in their expression, they can motivate and inspire action. Since Valentines Day, 2018, we have reached a tipping point in the fight against the gun lobby. Most Americans are against the NRA’s viewpoint; their hearts are aching for change. We need the power of artistic expression to fuel social activism.

Long before the Renaissance, art reflected and impacted human kind in depth above and below consciousness. Notice the cathedrals, the murals, sculptures which still move the souls of people at a depth below ego consciousness. Even before writing, cave art told us something about our existence.

By then I was in college studying art. Conceptual art and political art was a big thing back then. My husband had his masters in art history. Both of us knew how art impacted the world, for at least as long as the reformation.

Right now, here in the United States, we are beyond the crisis point. Education is harder to find, let alone achieve. The dumbing down of America has reached unbelievable heights. Many communities have teachers who must pay for school supplies. Book shortages are rampant. Politicians keep cutting budgets and ill prepared elected officials (check out your state) are reluctant, even unwilling to help. Now these same officials support arming teachers, locking doors to schools, without a thoughtful strategy limiting guns in the arms of dangerous individuals. Sadly, what is happening has more to do with power than ever before…that is power for a few.

Few gain from our irresponsible access to weapons. We know the few: Investors and, of course, representatives to both the House and Senate are financed by gun lobbyists and billionaires who want to keep what they have and get still more.

Too many representatives are willing to sacrifice the public for self gain. Meanwhile, they actually work very little. They are provided the very best health care and retirement benefits. My dear Americans, it all adds up to millions of people going hungry or dying from illness, many of whom work hard. The founders of our country did not intend for this to happen.

But a few very gifted students in Florida are making waves, bringing the issue of profit versus safety to the front of our minds. But we need to go deeper. We need to activate the depths of our bodies and minds, reach for creativity–we need to go to a level that is not subordinate to the lure of power and profit.

Action Based on Fact

We need people to FEEL so deeply it becomes impossible not to act. We need everyone to care and then VOTE!! We need every man, woman and child to know the facts about gun violence. There is already so much data that shows the harm that comes from our current gun laws:

Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. (CBS NEWS)

Although it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, the U.S. had 82 percent of all gun deaths, 90 percent of all women killed with guns, 91 percent of children under 14 and 92 percent of young people between ages 15 and 24 killed with guns. (CBS NEWS)

In 2010, gun violence cost U.S. taxpayers more than half billion dollars ($516 million) indirect hospital costs. (URBAN INSTITUTE)

A study undertaken in 2011 indicated that in states where local background checks for gun purchases are completed, the suicide as well as the homicide rate are much lower than those without (HEALTH POLICY JOURNAL).

Using Art To Make A Point

Do you remember the Oklahoma murders? Were you moved by the display of those empty chairs? Do you remember the AIDS Quilts? These works of art moved our culture into action. I call on the artistic community to create works of art that will speak to these despicable crimes—and—to the necessity for sensible gun laws. We have had too many deaths from guns. Our so-called congress and senate will not act in our favor. The gun lobby, among others, pay them too well. Can we call these bribes?

When the small children at Sandy Hook were murdered, mental illness was blamed. My dear Americans, these acts are not caused by mental illness—they are caused by the political financial gains politicians have received.

Artists, I call on you to make a plaster of each person murdered because sensible gun laws are not in place. Your art should reflect the many years of neglect. Then we should come together to display them on the Congressional Mall. If we could place chairs there—the many thousands of chairs, for both the children and grown ups who have died due to inefficient gun laws we could communicate a powerful message. Let us share our ideas so that the victims are represented and continue to share their voice. We need to experience the impact of so many human beings now mourned by their families.

Given the urgency of this problem, I hope Artists nationwide will act now.


Linda Dean has been a licensed family and child counselor for nearly 40 years, and received her training and education in both the U.S. and Switzerland. Her study of art, and her training at the C.G. Jung Institute has impacted her viewpoint.

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