STFU Parents: Why Is It ‘Cool’ To Post Pictures Of Children With Guns On Facebook?
I can’t put my finger on the exact moment — the trigger, if you will — that I realized America’s gun fetish was heinously out of control. As a high school junior, I watched the news report about the Columbine massacre with my mom, a high school English teacher, after we’d both gotten home from our respective schools. At that time, I don’t remember being scared for my life, but rather for my mom’s life. I only had a year left of high school, and it seemed pretty safe, but my mom taught at a school for “alternative” kids, aka kids who had been kicked out of other schools or had disciplinary records, and while no one there ever tried to kill anyone (there were several stolen cars, and my mom’s purse was stolen out of her own classroom), she’d known a teacher at another school who had been killed by a student with a handgun. Back then, hearing about children shooting semi-automatic weapons wasn’t even the norm. Yet.
Today, we hear about random shootings constantly, many of them involving weapons I don’t always recognize by name. I’m not a gamer, or a hunter, or a lover of weapons in general. I don’t get off on saying things like, “When the shit hits the fan in this country, I’ll be ready!” with a casual nod to my arsenal of machine guns. But having grown up in Atlanta, Georgia, where the dumbest person you’ll ever meet in your life could be legally carrying a gun around a grocery store, ready to shoot at any second, I’m aware of how much people love their guns. They sleep with them, clean them, wave them around in YouTube videos, and pose with them on Instagram — and I’m not just talking about irresponsible teenagers. I’m talking about mature adults who want to look like “badasses,” many of whom seem to be going for a “Western frontier” look, because, you know, things were pretty awesome in the 19th century when there was reckless lawlessness and no plumbing. It’s this particular subset of gun enthusiast that scares me, and it’s not only because I worry about what they’re capable of doing. I worry about what their kids are capable of doing.
Ever since receiving this image, which I posted on STFU, Parents three years ago — a year before writing a response to the Colorado shootings here on Mommyish, and a year and a half before posting about the Sandy Hook horror — I’ve had an acute awareness of the increased popularity of militarized weaponry:
Seeing a little baby get so acquainted with a weapon that’s designed to put a bullet between the eyes of a combatant over a mile away is alarming, to say the least. But what’s really scary is the number of files I’ve received in the past three years that resemble this one. Sure, not every photo features a sniper rifle, but why has it become so “cool” to take pictures of babies with guns in the first place? What does it say about our society that photos of this nature are now as commonplace as cheesy (and harmless) Olan Mills Studio photos were when I was a kid? What do parents teach their kids when they pose them with guns? And what sense of satisfaction do they stand to gain from posting pictures on Facebook that say (to me, anyway), “Check out my baby! WE’RE ARMED AND DANGEROUS!”?