Let me preface my comments by saying that I am absolutely NOT anti-gun ownership. In fact, I am often the only progressive in the room arguing against draconian gun ownership limits. If you go back and read anything I’ve ever written on the subject of guns and gun ownership, I think you will find that I have generally taken the position that responsible Americans have the right to own firearms.
Additionally, I have never been a Duggar-family-basher. I have written several times about my admiration for the Duggar family’s commitment to one another, and I have taken issue with criticisms of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s highly personal decision to have a (very) large family.
Now, with those things said, I am really bothered by this photo that was all over the Web yesterday. The picture depicts 20 year old John David Duggar and an Indonesian exchange student, whom I assume is staying with the family, both of them posing somewhat provocatively with multiple weapons. When questioned about the odd photo, Jim Bob Duggar casually shrugged it off, saying that the guns (I count 4 of them, including the handgun stuffed into John David’s pocket) were all unloaded and that John David is “well trained in gun safety.”
Now I’m no gun safety expert, but I did complete Tennessee’s state Hunter Safety course, and I grew up in a rural area with lots of guns and lots of teenage boys. And in my amateur opinion, what these boys are doing with those guns is SUPER, DUPER STUPID for several reasons. First of all, you should ALWAYS assume that a gun is loaded and handle it accordingly. Excusing sloppy or childish gun-handling techniques by saying “the guns weren’t loaded” gets a lot of people accidentally killed every year. And if you assume that those guns (is one of them an M-16?) were loaded, then having one kid (who had likely never before even touched a gun) pointing it pretty much at the other kid’s head, while the other boy has one stuffed in his pocket seems pretty irresponsible and dangerous to me.
Second of all, this photo obviously depicts the kind of faux-Rambo, play-posing that you might expect of much younger boys playing with Nerf rifles or water pistols or something. No 20-year-old, responsible gun owner should be playing around with guns like they are photo props or toys, nor should he encourage a guest in his home with no gun experience to do that. The whole attitude of the boys in this photo says that they don’t take the guns seriously, that they are playthings.
Even if the guns were unloaded, and even if one of them weren’t aimed precariously close to John David Duggar’s head, I just don’t think that playing around with multiple guns like this in order to look tough in a photo is something that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar should be defending. If I ever saw a photo of one of my kids doing this, especially if it were taken inside my house full of younger siblings, and included a GUEST in my house, I’d be unhappy, to put it mildly. And my husband, an Eagle Scout with fairly substantial gun-handling experience, would be even more unhappy. We wouldn’t be defending the behavior.
But maybe I am way off base here. After all, we don’t actually own any guns ourselves, and it’s been a while since I took that hunter safety course. So I’d like to hear from those of you who do own, handle, target shoot and hunt with guns; do you agree with me that this photo indicates a sloppy attitude to gun ownership on the part of the Duggar family, or is this something your own teenage kids or family members might do with your bemused okay? Tell me what you think in the comments below.