Series Overview:
– Welcome to the world of PENsive: from the mind and pen of Artist Damon Kardon. This is a weekly editorial cartoon satirizing the social ills of our time, especially what Damon finds most perplexing in the music/arts, social media and political industries.

About the Sketch:
– I originally wrote the following around this same time last year. It was not long after the Las Vegas Massacre and then the Sutherland Springs, Texas Massacre at a church. I want to share these thoughts because I feel they are just as relevant (if not more) today than they were one year ago. Nothing has changed….

I have never written a post like this before and I always try to shy away from speaking my mind on anything that smells political in a public forum, but I can’t help this at this point. I don’t think the following is political; I think it is more ethical. I can’t sleep and this has been eating away at me. I don’t ever like to really “take sides” because I think there is never truly a right answer on one side or the other. I am more curious about what other people think when it comes to religion or art or culture or politics and how it might make sense to me or maybe just not compute. The reason I am rambling is because I had a rough weekend with my kids and got so stressed out with bills, work, and lack of sleep that I just felt plain shitty. Then I saw that 26 people died in a mass shooting in a church. Complete numbness.

Check out this click with James Corden on Gun Control in America.


So, the first time I was ever even aware of what a mass shooting could be was after Columbine. After then, either I paid more attention to the news or I just grew less naive about the world, but these shootings were becoming more commonplace. I know there were shootings way before Columbine, but that fact these were high school kids and I was barely out of high school definitely hit a nerve. Now we read about these shootings all of the time across the globe, but it seems like it happens more in the United States than other countries (maybe not, but it sure seems this way).

This is not to diminish the fact that other countries deal with much worse crimes, poverty and terrorism. I am just curious as to why there has been an increase in mass shootings in the U.S. and why it seems people are on one side or the other in debating what to do, and there is no in-between. Some have strong ideas on how to stop this from happening and some don’t. Some want no changes to laws and no involvement from the government, and some think that we’be better off with no guns at all.

I think if we have just one side or the other, they both have it right and they also have it wrong. No one has all the answers, on guns, on mental illness, on how much government, on how the constitution protects or doesn’t. Nothing gets solved on the left or the right. It’s the grey area in the middle that needs to find the answers. My dad has worked in the field of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and mental illness treatment. What I’ve seen over the years is a decline in government funds and a partial breakdown of a system that is meant to help people who are suffering.

A clip highlighting 5 ways the U.S. mental health care system is in crisis.


This includes soldiers coming home from surviving horrific injuries from war and suffering through the trauma mentally and physically without much assistance from the country they fought for. This includes a homeless population with many who suffer from mental challenges and starvation. This includes children and adults who suffer from mental illness that may not be diagnosed because they don’t have access to proper health professionals. Maybe their insurance doesn’t cover the associated costs or they live in an area where the infrastructure is not there anymore. This decline has happened over the last few decades and it’s only getting worse.

You look at any of these mass shootings and you find an unstable human being. Start with that. It’s not the weapon, it is the person. Now, let’s move on to the weapon. The “Mass” of the Mass Shooting is because of the weapon that can kill the most the fastest. A semi-automatic with a bump stock and you have a mass shooting. A handgun with a clip and you have a mass shooting. A switchblade knife… you have seen a mass stabbing at a college campus recently, but the difference in a weapon is a difference in the number of lives taken.

So, when you say that there should be no regulations on these weapons, that the constitution protects these weapons, that anyone should have access to these weapons…… that does not solve anything. In fact when I see someone defend the right to own the guns, I see no talk about what else can be done to try to stop these shootings. Is the answer to just have a bigger gun than the mass shooter? Is the consensus that we are just headed down the path of Armageddon and just to strap in and protect your own? Is it this bleak? I know there is a lot of mistrust in our country, between the cops and communities they serve, the government and how people voted, etc… There can always be a revolt against certain institutions that groups of people feel violates their well-being, but if that revolt doesn’t start with words and we jump right into violence, we are headed towards anarchy, and then extinction.

Check out the full-resolution version of the PENsive #14 sketch.

pensive_14_enough_featuring_hatred_and_violence

I never wanted to be a gun owner, but I do think people should be able to own regulated guns (just as alcohol, cigarettes and hopefully marijuana in all states). I don’t think our founding fathers could fathom how things currently are in our country when they wrote the second amendment and I also think this amendment, as well as many others, gets twisted to fit the views of whoever is defending it. We were at war on our own turf when it was drawn up. It was important that each household defend itself with its single barrel musket rifle (or something that took a long time to load).

They weren’t saying you should go get a semi-automatic with a bump stock and take out the British army. I do think everyone has a right to defend themselves and their home, but just like the nuclear arms race, are we going to go back and forth and see who can collect the biggest arsenal and do the most damage? And do we really think our founding fathers wanted guns in the hands of someone that is mentally unstable? I don’t think so, and I don’t think that is what anyone wants. After Newtown, if that didn’t make everyone see even more that we need to come together to try to do something to stop this…. it should not matter what side you are on. With the loss of life and love and people just destroying each other, aren’t we all just sick of it?!

I say fuck political grandstanding, playing to the crowd, taking sides and not saying what we really feel to each other. I’m sick of how I see people treat each other and I don’t blame Trump or Clinton or Bush or Obama or state or local government. Let’s push that all away so it’s just us. We all need to talk (not yell) to each other to try to come up with real solutions. Sorry, this was a full-on rant and I’m sure some read a few words and quit on it, but it kept me up very late tonight and I’ve never spoken my mind like this before (maybe never again). But I want to talk about this more and I want to know how other people feel, if there is a way to do so that we let our guard down and really just talk and not fight. – Damon Kardon (originally posted to Facebook Nov. 6th, 2017)

Here’s a fantastic representation about what gun violence really is when you break it all down with “Killing Strangers,” the lead track from Marilyn Manson’s 2015 album The Pale Emperor.