One of the primary ways people commemorate special occasions, possessions, and events they hold dear is through the snapping of a photograph. We display family photos in our homes and offices as constant reminders of that which is important to us. From person to person, the scenes in those photos may vary, but the basic concept is the same. A photo captures a memory, a moment in time, preserving it for long term, future enjoyment.
Imagine if you were denied the right to use photos to mark something special to you. Sure, you could take all the pictures you wish, but what if you went to print those photos at your local photo lab only to be told your photos were a violation of policy? Strange though this may sound, it actually happened to engaged couple Stephanie Wehner and Mitch Strobl.
Photo: Stephanie Wehner and Mitch Strobl
To document their growing love, Stephanie Wehner and her fiancee Mitch Strobl, took a series of photos, each of which paid homage to something close to their hearts. When they took these photos to their local Walmart in Dallas, Texas for processing, one photo was missing. The photo in question was one in which a Ruger Red Label shotgun appeared. As an explanation for its absence, the clerk explained that it was policy to not print pictures that included weapons, citing the reason for this policy being that doing so "encouraged gang culture."
This explanation came as a surprise to this couple and struck them as an infringement upon their rights. It is justifiable to be taken aback by the comparison of what is obviously a hunting shotgun being linked to gang behavior. Especially disparaging is that Mitch Strobl himself is well versed in the usage and handling of guns and acutally creates online hunter safety and education videos. In the photo, the muzzle of the shotgun was pointed in a safe direction and it was open to clearly show it was unloaded, none of which mattered to the Walmart clerk responsible for the care and handling of their photos.
Upon being questioned regarding the incident, Walmart claimed that the clerk in question was merely misinformed. In fact, if you peruse Walmart's terms of service, you will find no mention of firearms anywhere in the policy. What you will find at Walmart is Ruger brand firerams for sale, which makes a hesitation to print a gun photo all the more ironic since they are clearly willing to profit from firearms in other capacities. With this in mind, it is difficult not to wonder from where this policy claim originated as well as why it was applied in this case and why the Ruger Red Label photo was deemed likely to encourage gang culture as the clerk stated.
Photo: The Nation
In the end, the photo owners can print their images elsewhere but a worrisome implication has been made by here. The linking of a simple engagement photo containing a Ruger Red Label shotgun to gang culture is a frightening precedent to set, leading one to wonder at what point the tradition of hunting began to overlap law-breaking and unnecessarily violent behavior. It is impossible not to wonder what other unlikely parallels will be combined in the future.
What are your thoughts on the comparison of this photo containing a Ruger Red Label shotgun to gang culture? How do you feel about this incident as a whole? Let us know in the comments.