A Facebook picture of a 6-month-old smiling with a rifle resting across her lap has gone viral — prompting furious debate over seemingly everything from parents' rights to gun rights to the right to post the image online.
Here's the story behind the controversial image, according to Mike Majewski, owner of the Woodbridge Firearms Trading Post in Woodbridge, Conn. He told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the photo took place when the child's father stopped in recently to look around.
The father was handling the rifle when he noted how light it was and laid it across his daughter's carrier. "She grabbed the rifle and put on a big smile. [The father] thought it was adorable, so he took a picture," Majewski said.
The image was posted on the store's Facebook page and immediately struck a chord.
Some say the photo glorifies guns and is especially shameful, having been taken just a few miles from the site of the Sandy Hook massacre. "We have a serious epidemic of violence in our country. Do you people have no limits? You are disgusting!!" said one posting on the gun store's Facebook page.
Others applaud the photo and have been using the Facebook page to post pictures of their own children with weapons. They say that the best way to prevent gun violence and accidents is to make sure children are taught gun safety: "We need more parents like this. I think all kids should be taught gun safety. We shouldn't be teaching kids that guns are scary and bad. We should teach kids to respect guns, and how to safely handle and use them. That is how you stop gun violence," said another comment posted on the page.
Majewski said he is not censoring comments on the page and noted that nearly all the feedback he's received has been largely positive. He said he removed the photo from the Facebook page Sunday at the request of the family.
In a Facebook post explaining the decision to remove the photo, he explained: "We support teaching young people to shoot and would NEVER put anyone's life at risk. Feel free to share photos and comments. If I post something and it offends you...don't cry to me. Call your mom."
Majewski said the flap has boosted sales at the nearly 2-year-old business.
Local TV station WTNH aired an exclusive interview with the child's father, Christopher Duffy, about the uproar over the photo of daughter Genevieve touching the Bolt Action Rifle. The father suggested that critics were unfairly making too much out of it. "My hand was on it... it was safety checked," he said of the weapon.
WTNH reporter Erin Logan's piece also includes further details, including local reaction to the controversy and footage of Duffy as he returned to the gun store, baby in arms, to discuss his side of the controversy.
What do you think about the photo? Tweet me @renelynch