Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blood, Tears and Stitches for Gun Sense

Richard Martinez is the father of one of the six youngsters slaughtered on May 23, 2014 at UC Santa Barbara, not far from where we live. His son, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez. was 20, same age as my son. 

After the massacre, Martinez quit his job and began travelling the country to speak out about gun regulation. His words sparked a national "Not One More" campaign, (#Notonemore) in which, at last count, some 600,000 people sent more than 2.4 million postcards to US legislators of all political stripes. 

In early June, our local community gallery hosted a Not One More Postcard Event  & Art Installation, which alone generated 1,000 cards. Some made their cards at a reception, where our hosts provided blank cards, markers and lists of legislative addresses. (The event's FB page with lots of useful links is here.) Here are my artistic buddies Marian and Karen creating and addressing their cards. 

I made my cards in advance, by stitching the words in red thread on cardstock.

As I stitched, my mind wandered - as is its wont - over to the idea that the needle puncturing the paper was kind of like bullet holes puncturing someone's kid. The rapidity is kind of like an automatic weapon. When I trimmed the red threads, I thought about they looked like blood shooting out. And other horrible, morbid musings.

 I've never been in a war or at a scene of a shooting, but I imagine that it's a mess, and I wanted my cards to capture that. Once stitched, I splattered red paint on them. This is easily accomplished by dipping a paintbrush in red paint, and then tapping it lightly above the cards. 
On some, I drew in a few symbolic blue teardrops, for color contrast. 

I experimented with a machine zig-zag for the lettering on one card:

My friend Marian is an amazing artist and she made this one (and others). 
The event was fun, because it was arts & crafts and lots of friends, but it was also deadly sober. Since I'd already made my cards, I used my time there to address them. As I wrote out the names of well-known gun control foes in Congress,  I thought, what's the point? You know they'll toss it. Even if it's stitched and splattered just so.

I addressed one of my cards to Eric Cantor, and just a few days later, he lost his bid for reelection. My immediate reaction: I bet he won't save my card to pass on to his successor. Or even use it as a bookmark. But I had to do something.

Completed cards were hung on the gallery wall before mailing.

Mr. Martinez posted a thank-you video for the postcard (and Twitter) campaign. (He had also asked people to tweet  #Not One More). In the video, he essentially said, "Don't wait until your family member or friend is killed. Otherwise you might wind up like me."

It's not too late to send your legislators a card.  If we don't overcome our cynicism and find new ways to take action, how dangerous will America be when this little one turns 20?

Two of the latest campaigns from Moms Demand Gun Sense are a quilt project (described here), and  the #offtarget campaign. The latter hopes to make the point to Target stores that their open carry policy need to be changed. Shop at stores with sensible gun policies, and snap a photo to send to Target. Complete info is at

Update: Another avenue of action: Download the “Don’t Make My Family a Target” sign here: Take a photo of yourself holding the sign and tweet it to @Target using the hashtag ‪#‎OffTarget‬. Then send it to


  1. Well done, Cathy. Together we will fight for the change. NOTONEMORE!

  2. Thanks, Karen, and you done good too! Now we need to rush out and not shop at Target?!

    1. Yes, I am reconsidering my love of Target, staying away this weekend, and sending them my outrage via Twitter.

  3. This is inspiring. I will have to blog about this too.