Alabama Gun Range Under Fire for Facebook Photo of Baby Holding Pistol
The operators of an Alabama shooting range have raised eyebrows and ire by posting a Facebook photo of an infant holding a semiautomatic handgun.
Photos posted by Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex in Montgomery have apparently been deleted, but not before going viral and sparking a firestorm of criticism over what many viewers believe is irresponsible handling of deadly firearms.
One of the photos shows a baby who appears to be no more than a couple of months old lying in a University of Alabama jacket surrounded by rifles and shotguns and holding a semiautomatic pistol.
Lilly Ann Gibbs, who works at the 10-lane shooting facility on Carmichael Parkway, explained that the photo was meant to highlight the need for gun safety.
“Primarily here at Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex, we promote firearm safety, so in order to stimulate a little dialogue, we put a controversial picture in effort to get people’s feedback and get some awareness about that topic,” Gibbs told WHNT.
“In the Journal of Pediatrics, they estimate that 10,000 children are harmed by firearms a year. And so we at Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex are participating with the national shooting sports foundation in a child safe program,” Gibbs added.
The range’s Facebook page includes a link to Project ChildSafe, a nationwide program promoting “safe firearms handling and storage practices.”
The range’s owners told reporters they do not condone the photos, but want to stimulate conversation about gun safety.
Public reaction to the story has been mixed.
“I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s correct,” Octavius Combs told WAKA. “I don’t think that’s a good picture because it kinda sends out a lot of messages in the wrong way.”
“It’s not appropriate at all for anything,” agreed Annette Coleman.
But some parents expressed their support for the controversial photos.
“Following y’all in support of your picture post,” commented Facebook user Haley Jo Hosmond Woolard. “Saw it on our local news channel & there wasn’t a thing wrong with the picture. Hope the complaints of the thin skins bring more business through your doors! God bless!”
“As long as the guns aren’t loaded then who cares,” Andrea McKemey Ingram told WAKA.
The story broke as numerous shootings by young children made headlines around the nation.
On Thursday, a Tallahassee, Florida man was charged in connection with the death of his 3-year-old nephew, who on December 29 fatally shot himself with a pistol he found in a box in the man’s home.
On Wednesday, a 3-year-old Kansas City, Missouri girl was rushed to a local hospital after shooting herself in the stomach with a gun found in her family’s home.
Even children under the strict supervision of certified expert firearms instructors can be involved in deadly accidents. Last September, a 9-year-old girl firing an Uzi submachine gun at the Bullets and Burgers shooting range in Dolan Springs, Arizona accidentally shot and killed 39-year-old instructor Charles Vaca, who was standing next to her teaching her how to use the gun, when the child could not control the powerful weapon’s recoil, or kick.