Wednesday’s tragic events in San Bernardino, California took the lives of 14 people and wounded at least 21 more. As the U.S. grapples with yet another mass shooting, the grief often turns to discussion of policy change, gun control, and how a culture of violence has come to grip the country.
Such tragedies are covered by media through words, video and (often satirical) editorial cartoons. The cartoons tend to strike a chord with their sometimes goofy looking depictions, which can carry a politically charged and powerful message.
In the immediate aftermath it was not yet clear who had been behind the attack in California or any indication of motive. What was known was heavily armed gunmen had stormed a social services centre and started shooting, “prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission,” authorities said.
The day after the shooting the New York Daily News ran a cartoon suggesting political interference by the powerful American gun lobby the National Rifle Association.
By the next day the tone, and some blame, had shifted, as news of the shooters’ identities — U.S. and Pakistan-born Muslims — and possible ties to radicalism began to surface. Bill Bramhall’s drawing published on Friday in the NYDN depicted a “jihadi” holding an assault rifle with a take on the classic Uncle Sam saying “I want you” to prevent gun control.
When does a violent attack become an act of terror? The recurring and perplexing discussion — often prompting accusations of racial profiling — is depicted in a drawing by Tom Toles for The Washington Post to be published Dec. 6 but released online Friday.
The cartoon shows two identical crime scenes labelled as mass shooting, and terrorism, respectively.
As details surrounding the shooters’ allegiance to the Islamic State continued to emerge, the FBI announced it was investigating the attack as an act of terror. The Los Angeles Times published Friday political commentator and cartoonist David Horsey’s prediction of a state of fear overcoming the country.
The husband and wife behind the attack, Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, appeared to be living the American dream. Farook worked as a health inspector for San Bernardino county, and the couple had an infant daughter.
They also had an apartment stockpiled with ammunition and explosives.
A number of Farook’s coworkers were killed in the attack. Farook had been with his coworkers at a holiday luncheon when he stepped away and returned with his wife, spraying the room with bullets.
The two were later killed in a shootout with police.
WATCH: Wife in San Bernadino shooting rampage pledged allegiance to ISIS
The New Yorker released a preview of its next cover, an illustration of a smiling couple shopping for guns alongside their groceries.
“The proliferation of guns and the too-easy access to military-grade weapons is not the only story in San Bernardino, but it’s an appalling part of it,” the magazines teaser says, in part.
“There are an estimated three hundred million guns in private hands in the U.S., and gun sales soared on Black Friday. And somehow, despite the growing demand for restrictions and background checks, the sales go on and, with them, the daily shootings.”