The latest school shooting in the USA has claimed the lives of seven people, including three children. Tennessee, and the rest of the world, are in mourning today following this devastating loss of life. As always happens when such tragedies occur, social media erupts into a frenzy of anti-gun vs pro-gun debates. And both sides are louder than ever.
But to make the situation even more inflammatory (as if the deaths of innocent people were not enough), a photograph has been doing the rounds online of US Congressman for Tennessee’s 5th District, Andy Ogles’, family Christmas card from last year. It depicts Ogles and his family standing around their Christmas tree, smiling proudly, and all brandishing automatic rifles. The only exception is his youngest child, who instead of holding a weapon, is holding a picture of three dancing Santa’s and the word “PEACE.”
This image is disgusting. Pro-gun advocates are sticking to the argument that unless Ogles or one of his family members was the shooter (which they were not), then the picture is not relevant. But oh, how wrong they are…
For a Christmas card like this to even exist, it speaks to a staggering normalisation of gun culture. This family are posing with deadly weapons that are designed to end lives with huge smiles on their faces and have chosen this image to use as their 2022 Christmas card. They are proud to be in possession of these instruments of violence. And as a Congressman, Ogles has set a terrible example which people like the Tennessee shooter have directly followed.
Pro-gun activists on Twitter have been praising Ogles and his family for this image, commenting that he is ensuring his home and family are well-protected, has taught his family gun safety, and even going so far as to suggest this should be the standard norm in the US. These people have completely misunderstood the problem with assault rifles. You can protect your home and your family without an automatic weapon. And no child is safe with an assault rile in their hands, regardless of how much “gun safety” someone has taught them. These are powerful weapons of death. They are not toys. They are not a hobby. And they are not a social status symbol. They are built for one purpose and one purpose alone. To end lives.
Ogles and his family may not have shot anyone. But they are happily promoting a culture of murder and seem to be proud to do so. Until the rest of the US recognises images like this Christmas card photo as being hugely problematic, the gun crisis will continue, and more people will die.
My heart goes out to the victims that lost their lives, their families, those injured, and anyone that witnessed, or has been affected by this tragedy. I continue to hope every day that the US will one day see reason and do the right thing to keep its people safe. Gun Control Now.