At TIME, we’ve been in the business of words for nearly a century. But it is hard to think of a task more challenging for my colleagues and me than finding the words to convey the horror, despair, and senselessness of America’s epidemic of gun violence. This year alone, there have already been 213 mass shootings in the U.S.—and 27 shootings at schools. Certainly thoughts and prayers are far from sufficient against this record, which no other country in the world comes anywhere close to.
Who could not have been moved by the words and tears of Angel Garza, the father of 10-year-old Amerie who was one of the 21 killed in the massacre this week at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas? “How do you look at this girl and shoot her,” he said, while clutching his daughter’s picture. Or the eloquence and passion of Golden State Warriors basketball coach Steve Kerr this week: “When are we going to do something? I’m tired, I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough.”
Over the decades, TIME’s message after tragedies like this has often been offered in the form of the covers that we have found ourselves publishing with painful frequency, particularly in recent years. The word that Steve Kerr used, “Enough,” is one that we too have used several times on the cover, most recently after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 and in 2019 after a week in which 35 people were killed in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, Calif.
Illustration by John Mavroudis for TIME
Today, echoing Kerr’s words, we use it again. In the aftermath of three major mass shootings in just 11 days—from Buffalo, N.Y., to Laguna Woods, Calif., to Uvalde. Creative director D.W. Pine turned to artist John Mavroudis, who hand-drew the list of U.S. cities that have suffered each of the 213 mass shootings this year, based on data from the Gun Violence Archive, which defines such incidents as having at least four people injured or killed, excluding the shooter. Mavroudis took a similar approach on his Aug. 19, 2019, TIME cover, writing out the 253 cities that had experienced mass shootings that year as of that date.
“So many familiar places to draw again. Chicago. Baltimore. Las Vegas. Louisville. Houston. Jacksonville. Stockton. And so many new places,” says Mavroudis. ”In the time it took me to carefully write the words ‘Uvalde, TX,’ that gunman extinguished so many beautiful lives. I could feel the sadness and fear and horror overwhelm me again.”
The bigger question of course—far more important than what words we use—is what we as a society do. The gavel shape formed by the word “Enough” on our new cover is meant to signify the need for action. And that’s what the vast majority of Americans want, with 81% supporting universal background checks and 87% supporting a ban on gun purchases by those with mental illness, according to a Pew survey conducted last year. As many have noted this week, surely an 18-year-old, who is too young to drink or rent a car, should not be able to purchase with ease two AR-style rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition over the course of three days.
To try nothing in the face of routine massacre is unconscionable. As our cover says, “When are we going to do something?”
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