Can we teach our kids (and editors) that guns are not toys?

Re: Photo re-published from Cody Enterprise

On July 9, 2019, The Sheridan Press ran a photo and caption regarding the grand reopening of the Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The photo shows a 9-year-old girl with a gleeful expression manning a machine gun, which is part of a machine gun simulation at the museum.

I find that this image is disturbing. I am surprised that any editor would run this picture. I am surprised and dismayed that this image was created and published by a newspaper editor, and that other editors, i.e. The Sheridan Press, have picked up and run this image.

I am not against guns, or gun ownership. I am a gun owner. I do think that Americans have a much too cavalier attitude toward guns and gun safety. When I look at recent school shootings, I see that we have a problem that needs to be addressed, and that we need to treat guns and gun ownership much more seriously.

On social media, I often see pictures of supposedly intelligent people handling these weapons as if they are simply fun, exciting and harmless toys. What impression does that make on our youth? It certainly does not support the concept of “responsible gun ownership.”

I find that this image makes light of a very serious problem. On one hand it is a “cute” picture of a sweet young girl. On the other hand, there is something tragically ironic about seeing a young child enjoying the handling of a deadly weapon, the type of weapon which has been responsible for much grief around our nation.

These weapons have been used repeatedly in schoolyard shootings over the past few years in the U.S. In 2018, 113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S.

For perspective, the ratio of America kids killed by guns versus the number of American kids killed by cancer is 2:1

As a seasoned photojournalist, I find that those involved in the news-gathering profession are conscientious, responsible and most often, sadly underpaid professionals. As with any profession, it can be a high-pressure job, that sometimes requires quick decisions. In these situations, the decisions made are not always the best ones.


Adam Jahiel