Slaves and Guns


 Street art seen on the streets of NYC

Lincoln, the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin portrays a sobering perspective on the political challenges to end slavery.

In 1619 a Dutch ship pulled into port in Jamestown, Virginia and brought slavery to America. Slavery began with 20 shackled individuals who were dragged off that ship and in 200 years there were nearly 4 million oppressed humans in slavery in America. In 1863 The Emancipation Proclamation freed approximately 3 million, yet it took two more years for the Senate to pass the 13thAmendment to end legalized slavery. Today, we look back at that time and it seems horrifically unbelievable, unethical, and immoral that not so long ago in our country, the USA, that celebrates freedom and justice for all greed and ignorance justified slavery.

I believe, and hope, that the embattled controversy we are having today over the ‘right to bear arms’ will soon be like slavery, in the past and something we view as horrifically unbelievable, unethical, and immoral. Many who fight to carry deadly weapons hide behind the 2ndAmendment as sanctimony for supporting their reasoning and argument. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, an American Historian and author posits the historical context of the 2ndAmendment in her book Loaded. She presents essential arguments that unify the conversation between liberal gun control advocates and open-carry aficionados. She explains why and how guns in American law and society are and were never intended for how they are used today.

The 2ndAmendment ratified in 1791, and at this time in American history, the Anglo-American settlers were declaring independence from the British while also taking claim to Native American territories. Settler-militia were dependent on individual armed men to defend their newly established territories against the Native people and the State. The militaristic-capitalist powerhouse, the firearm industry was derived to protect one’s conquered real estate by overpowering slave rebellions and Indigenous resistance. We were able to abolish slavery yet the gun issue is still being fought.

www.civilwartalk.comSlave ad 1854, image courtesy of

I envision a time in the future when Loaded will be made into a dramatized movie, just like Lincoln, depicting how the 2ndAmendment ‘right to bear arms’ has evolved into an era of gun culture where people arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons and result in mass-shootings. Hands of angry, armed people rampage college campuses, high schools, and even elementary schools—as well as music concerts, night clubs, churches, and synagogues massacring innocent people. These killers toting guns are not protecting their properties from a State militia, their liberties are not in danger, yet, they create danger and fear for all of us. I foresee people walking out of the theater, from viewing such a film depicting our rampant, out-of-control gun violence wondering why this issue of the ‘right to bear arms’ was ever a controversial debate.

I imagine in the future, and I hope a near future, it will become evident how horrifically inhumane our present-day gun laws are.


The above optically disorienting image is an artwork by Robert Buck, made in 2014 to commemorate the victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It is titled, At the end of the day…(Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newton, CT, December 14, 2012)

karl fredrik reutersward, nonviolence

 Karl Fredrik Reutersward’s Non-Violence in front of the United Nations Building, image courtesy of

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz dispels the confusion of the 2ndAmendment. She sheds light that the 2ndAmendment is not protecting the freedoms of citizens, it is threatening our freedom. It takes away the personal freedom of feeling safe by allowing for hysterical fear. I want there to be an end to random acts of violence and blaming it on mental health, and innocent people being shot dead by police officers in the line of duty in the name of keeping our peace. It is time for a revision of our gun laws, if not a rescission of the Amendment. What is happening today, the evolution of our country and our society is not what was considered when our country’s forefathers voted for the 2ndAmendment. I cannot imagine they would support today’s gun culture.

Farrow_Skull_of_Santo_Guerro_III_-_2011_005_web2Al Farrow’s Skull of Santo Guerro (III), 2011. image courtesy of

What at first glance appears a stunningly beautiful sculpture of a cathedral upon closer inspection reveals it is crafted with guns and bullets. Al Farrow’s elaborately made sculptures of cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues from arsenal directly confront the viewer to consider the historical and continuing relationship between religion, war, and peace.


And another edition made by Al Farrow

Beck Untitled (Daily over:under @close range w:.12)Robert Beck’s Untitled (Daily Over/Under@close range w/.12) 2002.

Obscurely and rather cryptically, Robert Beck/Buck’s art questions the meaning of guns in our society. Guns, a symbol of manhood and sport, passed along through traditions and societal patterns–a rite to passage, one could say, leaving scars and wounds.

The artist JR created an interactive media piece for Time magazine that shares the voice of the liberal gun control advocates, survivors of gun violence, and supporters of the ‘right to bear arms’. Here is a link to Time magazine’s Guns in America by JR.

Amongst all that is written, blogged, and spoken out against the 2nd Ammendment, I would like to share this recent article, which I find to be well articulated. I always believe it is the smart questions that open up our perspective, as does Beverly Bander in the following article:

Al Farrow’s “Bell” made in 2012 from a steel drum and bullets for the Resounding Compassion: A concert for peace.

 A little satirical humor from Matt Wueker.

matt wuerker



The feature image is by the artist Dave Cole, Bullet Flag VI, 2009. Made from used bullet casings depicting the painful contradictions of America’s dark history.

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