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Teens' Portraits With Guns Not a Pretty Picture

There was yet another school shooting at a high school near Seattle, Wash., recently. A 15-year old freshman directed his rampage toward friends and family members, approaching the table of students from behind while they ate lunch in the cafeteria.

Two of the victims died and three remain in critical or serious condition. The shooter died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds after a teacher intervened to stop the rampage.

This was not a random act of violence. This was planned.

Although he used a .40 caliber Baretta handgun to attack his unsuspecting victims on Friday, the shooter recently received a hunting rifle for a birthday gift. Clearly this is a child who was raised around and had access to, guns.

Are you ready for the startling list of school shootings in the United States since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012? According to EVERYTOWN for Gun Safety, there have been 87 school shootings since Sandy Hook. Incidents were classified as school shootings, when a firearm was discharged in a school building or on school grounds whether or not there were fatalities.

Meanwhile, a Nebraska school district changed its policy to allow seniors to pose with guns in their senior portraits, as long as the portraits are “tasteful and appropriate.” Leaning on the fact that they are a small, rural community, where hunting and other shooting sports are popular, the school board felt that posing with rifles is really no different than posing with a basketball or in a tutu.

RELATED: Child Accidentally Kills Gun Instructor

Last I checked, basketballs and tutus don’t accidentally (or intentionally) kill people. An angry ballerina might use some words she will later regret in the heat of the moment, but she can’t take her tutu on a school-wide shooting spree should she, I don’t know, break up with her boyfriend or get in an argument with her best friend.

I’m not a fan of guns in general, and I’m really not a fan of school shootings. I love that I live in a small town where the police force is strong and drives by the schools several times a day, but I hate that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach when I leave my kids at school each day. Will they know to hide in a small space if something terrible happens? Will they keep quiet and make themselves small to avoid being seen? Will they freeze up right in a wide-open space?

As long as we continue to glorify guns in this country and put guns in the hands of teens and other people who aren’t ready for the responsibility of something so lethal and powerful, our children will never truly be safe.

Glorifying guns in senior portraits sends a very mixed message. Rifles are not the same as basketballs, dance shoes or paintbrushes.

Schools craft safety plans and practice lockdown drills to teach the kids how to respond in an emergency, but will those plans actually work? When a teen casually walks into a school cafeteria and fires off six shots to his friends and family members eating lunch, can we continue to pretend that we have any control over the gun violence that continues to take our children from us?

Hunting is a sport in this country. While I come from a “let the animals live” perspective, I can understand that a sport is a sport. We are all different, and we all have different interests and hobbies. But sports include rules, instruction and guidance.

The teen brain is an impulsive one at times. The teen brain doesn’t always make the best decisions, particularly when upset, under stress or under perceived attack. Long story short, teens don’t always make the best decisions.

Glorifying guns in senior portraits sends a very mixed message. Rifles are not the same as basketballs, dance shoes or paintbrushes. Yes, rifles can be used for sport, but they can also inflict serious and sometimes fatal harm on upon others. Rifles can kill.

RELATED: How I Talk to My Children About Guns

Teens crave responsibility and independence. They are constantly working toward individuation as they prepare to fend for themselves. A great lesson in responsibility for teens with an interest in hunting is that gun safety is serious and non-negotiable. They should be kept unloaded and locked up when not in use to prevent accidental discharge.

Keep the guns out of the pictures. That’s a lesson in gun safety.

Image via Omaha.com

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