Americans Need to see Graphic Mass Shooting Images

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As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Two more mass shootings within days of each other present an opportunity to finally do something – anything, for crying out loud about the pathetic and useless gun laws that make the United States a laughingstock in the civilized world.

The anger we’re seeing right now, from politicians to sports celebrities and most of our fellow American citizens, is palpable. It’s not as if we haven’t seen this level of anger before. We certainly have. But this time feels different. I hope it’s different.

Time will tell, of course, because the attention span of folks in this country continues to get shorter and shorter. And that is why we must go where we have not gone before. It’s time for the American people to see the vile and horrific photos from mass shootings like the one experienced at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

It’s not a novel idea, as we’ve seen the topic discussed before in various media outlets. Up until now, we’ve seen resistance to such measures. I realize it’s a delicate balance for our media. We must always consider the sensitivity of the families involved.

But folks, what the hell are we doing? You and I know this will soon fade into history along with the last shooting and the one before that. We always move on with nothing to show for it. Perhaps the shock of the photos would spur such public outrage that even our spineless Republican politicians would finally get something done. Historically speaking, it’s not without precedence.


In 1955, Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi by a white store clerk’s husband and half-brother. They took it upon themselves to avenge Till’s supposed flirtation with the clerk when exiting the store. They ran into Till’s home, dragged him from his bed, and beat him to the point of disfigurement. They then shot him and tossed his body into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton-gin fan attached with a barbed-wire laced to his neck to weigh him down. Till was 14 years old.

An all-white, all-male jury eventually acquitted the two men. The disgusting crime became a rallying cry for African-Americans, who had experienced decades’ worth of violence at the hands of white supremacists in the Deep South. While the supremacists celebrated the acquittal, civil rights organizations, Till’s family, and national newspapers shed light on the injustice and became a catalyst for the growing civil rights movement.

And it was the bravery of Till’s mother, who insisted on an open casket at his funeral service, which proved to be a defining moment. Nearly 50,000 people attended the funeral, which was chronicled by Jet magazine. An earlier photo of Till with his mother alongside Jet’s photo of his mutilated corpse shocked and horrified the nation.

We can also point to the graphic photos and coverage by the media during the Vietnam War that most certainly played a significant role in the massive protests that became common in the 1960s and early 70s. I remember as a young child seeing our injured soldiers evacuated from the battlefield – many of them bleeding from their wounds. I’ve never forgotten them.

Of course, we’ve seen countless videos of black men being beaten or killed by police in recent years, something most of us had only heard about. But thanks to cell phones, the public has seen it for themselves. And now we’re having an honest discussion about police reform because of it.


Look, I realize the media is reluctant. There’s a risk that showing graphic photos might trigger even more evil from mentally deranged people. It’s hard to believe, but we can’t discount it. And there would always be those on the right who’d criticize the media for sensationalizing the photos.

But doesn’t the right engage in such behavior when they show photos of aborted fetuses while protesting outside clinics? Isn’t that meant to shock people to prevent women from terminating their pregnancy?

Unfortunately, the hypocrisy from today’s GOP never ceases to amaze, however. They will defend the unborn and call themselves the pro-life party. Pro-life, my ass. Their continued glorification of these weapons of war, weapons that obliterate the organs of human beings in a split second, make them accomplices to the carnage we see on our American streets every day.

It’s time to show the American people what these weapons do, especially when used against our youngest citizens. Of course, we have an idea because we can read detailed accounts. But we haven’t seen it, at least not on a national scale.

Frankly, nothing else has worked – not even the horror of the Sandy Hook massacre, which was over ten years ago. Twenty precious babies were brutally and tragically murdered on that day. Many of us thought it would be a turning point. It was not.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder saw the carnage of Sandy Hook. He saw it firsthand, one of the highest government officials to see the crime scene. He said it was the worst day of his time as Attorney General. People have asked him what his best day was, and he has a hard time coming up with an answer. Not so when the question was what his worst day was.

Holder is a proponent of Americans seeing the crime scene photos of these mass shootings. In his view, the American people would demand action if they did. And he also said the same of members of Congress. I want to think that Eric Holder is right.

The thing is, it’s a slippery slope for the media to get the coverage right when it comes to mass shootings. We mostly see images of law enforcement during an attack or in the immediate aftermath, images of injured victims at the scene, and family and friends in the community grieving.

But what we have not seen are the photos of the deceased individuals themselves or the actual scene of carnage that law enforcement witnesses. I can only imagine what it looks like, and realize the first reaction might be to turn away.

But damn it, the balancing act we demand from our media in how they cover mass shootings has reached a tipping point. It’s time to show the public what an AR15 can do to the human body. And yes, that means even showing what it does to a child. Perhaps an autopsy photo would be enough, and you’d have to get parental permission, of course. But we should be able to find some who’d be willing to do so.


If presented thoughtfully and carefully, these images could have an enormous impact on the public’s understanding of what it’s like to experience gun violence, especially those that occur at schools. Again, as in the Emmett Till situation, it may only take one powerful image to make a difference.

I, for one, need answers to this uniquely American tragedy that keeps occurring far too often in our society. We know what we’ve done in the past has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.

We can simply no longer engage in the type of sanitized coverage commonly seen in the aftermath of these tragic mass shootings. Let’s show the American people what it looks like to be slaughtered by an AR15.

And then let the GOP and NRA explain why such a weapon should be readily available for an 18-year-old troubled young man to purchase whenever he sees fit. As a matter of fact, why should any human being in a so-called civilized society be allowed to own one?

51 comments

  1. Well spoken, my friend. I am no fan of seeing blood, gore & guts, but in this case, you are 100% spot on. In fact, I was hoping, when I saw the title of your post, that you might have included a few such photos. NOBODY in their right mind, none with an ounce of compassion, could look at the image of an 8-year-old child, his body ripped apart and covered in blood and not feel rage, not feel that it’s past time to do something. You and I both know what needs to be done, as do all 535 legislators (well, except maybe Margie Greene who doesn’t have a brain), but will they act? Not those who are in the pockets of the NRA, who have sold whatever souls they once possessed to the lowest bidder. So yes, we need to see these pictures, need to fully understand exactly what we … yes WE … are enabling when we vote for a lawmaker who is owned, lock, stock, and barrel, by the NRA. Great post, my friend!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re the best Jill, and thanks for the reblog! I thought about some more images but couldn’t really find one that made sense. We do agree on this Jill. I tend not to want to see bloody gory stuff in the media. But in this case, at this point in time in our gun debate, it’s way overdue to get the pics out there. I do get a sense that this time might be different. I sure as hell hope so!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Awwww … thanks, Jeff! I knew the minute I saw the post that I would re-blog it. Indeed we usually agree on such things … it’s not ideal to show those pictures, but sometimes you have to simply shock people out of their complacency. Our nation has put up with far too much for far too long and it’s time we WAKE UP and DO SOMETHING! I hope you’re right … I feel like this time is different, too, but I thought that after Parkland and … not much changed. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    My friend and sometimes writing partner (we’re working on it!) has written about what it just might take to wake up this nation to the horrific scenes we are enabling when we cast a vote for a politician who cares more about his own bank account than our children’s lives. And Jeff has a suggestion that I think is spot on! Thank you, Jeff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post, Jeff. No, great post! But the Repugs, and their owners, the NRA and the Gun Manufactuers and Sellers, won’t let it happen. It is like when they say “Now is not the time to talk about gun control!” If not now, WHEN? If we cannot be grossed out by the real pictures of the real stupidity of gun violence, then HOW CAN WE KNOW THE TRUTH?
    The Repuglycans cannot abide truth, or realism. As long as they can hide what they do to We the People, they can hide their guilt! It is time to confront them, make them face the Court of Public Opinion, and see how they fare. You are right, the time is now! The difference between this and the pictures of aborted fetuses, is we Know these photos are real whereas we pretty much can be sure the pictures of the fetuses are doctored.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for that Rawgod. If I’m not mistaken, do you not live in Canada? Reason I ask that is I saw a tweet the other day that lists what Canadian citizens have to do in order to purchase a firearm. It looked pretty strict and I’d love to have something similar here. Of course, like you said, the radical right and the NRA will never let it happen. Is it true, though? Is regulation pretty tight up there?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gun regulation is not as tight as I would like it to be. We are waoiting to here the results of a trial of two white people who shot otwo Metis individuals, protecting their families, according to them. If the jury believes them, you know they are being tried in Redneckville, Canada!
        But to be honest, never having tried to purshase a firearm, and not knowingly knowing anyone who has tried, I cannot really comment on how hard it is. The feds have some laws, but different provinces enforce them in different ways. Redneck provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, are much more lenient than say BC or Manitoba. But, we definitely have stricter laws than you in America, yes, certainly. We still have o psychos and racists, and just plain stupid folk, but nothing like you have down there. We “nice” them to death up here!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Let me say this: I welcome any free-thinking and
        humanity-promoting Americans who want to find a better life in Canada. Anyone who will vote against stupid conservative policies (Our Conservative parties are sounding more and more Repuglycan every day!) is more than welcome!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. In this particular event, I think you would probably have to get permission from the parent. I do think there might be one or two who would be willing simply because they realize the underlying “problem” this country is facing related to guns. But you can’t get around the fact that it is a VERY sensitive issue and would undoubtedly bring about loud and emotional dissent.

    The thought occurred to me … who, when. where was the decision made that such images should not be shown? As you mentioned, war-time photos are often published …

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Get me the photos, and I will publish them. I am not American! I am not subject to American laws, or American sensitivities. I will apologize in advance for publishing them, but if the truth cannot be shown, then there is no truth.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I heard that some of the Parkland kids had pics, and tried to get it out on social media, but were not successful in doing so. I do not know the details but I’m assuming they were quickly removed, if that indeed happened. I think your idea is a good one though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And I will gladly do it. But i have so few followers it would need a lot of reblogging (or redirecting readers to my blog so your blogs are not shut down) to make much of a difference.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Good points Nan. There are some pretty good articles out there about why the media refuses to do it. There might be fears of a lawsuit. And the sensitivity of it, of course, is a big thing. It would take the New York Times or Washington Post, or one of the other big papers to do such a thing for it to make a big impact. Or, on the nightly news.

      They have their reasons for not doing it and thus far, they’ve all held firm. I’m sure it’s widely discussed during editorial meetings. I’m doubtful it will ever happen. But, you never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These media reports of violence, shootings, I think, they are, desensitizing the people, to the, violent acts against one another, and, the more violent acts we watch from the news media, the less, we are, impacted by them, we become, untouched, to the point of being, callous about them, and so, when another act of violence in the world occurred, we just think to ourselves, “oh, another case of this…”, and, that doesn’t do a thing, to, stop these, killings.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s certainly possible that showing such graphic imagery would not make any difference whatsoever. But we just don’t know for sure, do we? I say do it and let the chips fall where they may. I’ve lost so much faith in the American people and our so-called political leaders. It really is time for desperate measures, in my opinion.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s more than likely, as psychology studies showed, that the more we expose ourselves, to violent, sexual images, the more desensitized we wil be each and every time we see them, and, the people of this world had, become, numb, mostly, of what is going on, or what had happened around them already.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I suppose you’re right. We are desensitized these days. So much social media-24/7 information overload etc…That said, while we have an idea on what an assault style weapon does to the human body, a graphic image like I discuss would force the GOP to defend why such weapons are necessary in our society. In other words, put them on the defensive. Over and over.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I am afraid your solution is extreme but it might cause a great wake up. Something drastic must be done!!! A picture like yousuggested is worth many, many thousand words, thoughts and prayers.
    You mentioned photos of dead children in Viet Nam. The one that I remember so vividly is that of the running toward the camera while she is on fire from napalm.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yep, I remember that one too, Don. I think all of those horrific photos, in totality, made a difference and turned the American people against that terrible war. To this day, it angers me, and I was pretty young at the time. I’ll never forget those images though. They’re seared into my memory forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes. Just yes. I recently heard that 90% of Americans want better gun controls…yet they’re not voting for those gun controls. Instead, the 3 sec media cycle and games that glorify killing without any messy ‘gore’ have desensitised people to the point where the slaughter of children becomes a ‘tut tut’ rather than a primal scream for change.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. 100% agree. Like most things these days, we’re under minority rule. In other words, a small minority of states and politicians are keeping things from getting done, that a majority of Americans want to be done. This is so wrong, and it’s got to change.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Start by showing these Jeff and network it to those equally worried, then urge them to network and so on. Spread the word.

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/09/is-the-us-really-heading-for-a-second-civil-war

        https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2021/09/16/is-the-us-headed-for-another-civil-war/

        Then seek links on a similar theme. This needs to be discussed in the open, the politicians on the Right need to be outed as Silly Little Folk playing with fire.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for those Roger. That’s pretty sobering stuff isn’t it? It may not look like the one in the 1860s, but I cannot disagree with those assessments. Something is simmering, deep inside American society. With over 400 million guns in circulation, what could go wrong? Sigh

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There are silly folk who think waving their semi-automatics while dressed up in pseudo combat gear is all they need.
        Even their 400 million guns doesn’t begin to cut it, when it comes to 20th/21st century communal violence. Are they ready for the IEDs; the letter bombs; the car bombs all aimed at them; the random assassinations of some of their cult heroes?
        Like kids playing with matches in deep a forest at the height of a long hot dry summer windy summer.
        Joe Walsh from Illinois who hardly seems a liberal fellow was on BBC radio today damn angry over gun deaths:
        Referring to the NRA as corrupt.
        Calling Congress members cowards only following their voters
        Later on said people should say to the NRA ‘get lost’
        So if a Second Amendment defender who has a history of very controversial comments feels like that about the lack of action on gun control….?

        Like

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    In total agreement — “As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.” — as a retired MD, I fully understand what this means. I think it’s time to show pics … I’m thinking Emmett Till!! … ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dr. Rex! You would absolutely understand more than most. Obviously you’ve seen things in your life. How much more of this are we going to take?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Images of the slain would be a violation of the privacy rights of individual families and should only be shown publicly after family members have signed waivers and given permissions …Secondly, there is no “Careful” or “Thoughtful” way to show images of such carnage …such images would only tend to add trauma to the lives of sensitive people who might have access to them. There are a thousand reasons not to show the pictures of the deceased victims of these events of horror.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do not disagree entirely. My point, which I made in the post, was that I’m fairly certain there would be some parents willing to sign waivers. Even so, media companies have held firm in not releasing any such image. It’s a debate worth having.

      I, for one, think we need to do it, because nothing else has worked. Nothing. The NRA is still a powerful lobby, even though they’ve been weakened in recent years. They should be forced to tell us why we need such weapons in our society. I have not heard a logical reason. These are weapons for the battlefield and law enforcement. Not every day American citizens. I realize shocking the American people is pretty hard in our present environment. But I’m willing to give it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am always wondering whether or not any of the children of the members of NRA have ever been victims of these kinds of things and if so, how do their parents react? Do they still advocate so strongly for guns if they, themselves experience such heartbreak? I have never seen any discussion of this point.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s a good point. On a related issue, do you remember when Rep. Steve Scailise of La. got shot at a softball game a few years ago? I was hoping like hell it would wake him the hell up. He nearly died. Yet, instead, he doubled down on protecting gun rights. There’s just no reasoning with some of these folks. It sickens me.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi, Jeff-

    Plan to swing back by and post a couple of links relating to Dem plan to slash Medicare Part B (apparently, Sens Manchin and Schumer are in agreement that it should be done in order to tackle “the deficit”).

    Also, there’s legislation proposed by Manchin and several other Dem Senators to levy a tax on mostly the oldest and sickest citizens–IOW, those who are prescribed opioids–referred to as an “opioid treatment fee.”
    What the heck is going on?!?!?!?!?!?!

    You’d think these folks would remember what happened to (the late) Dem Majority Leader Dan Rostenkowski when he tried to pull a stunt like that–meaning, imposing a Medicare premium hike on only Medicare beneficiaries, instead of on all taxpayers.

    Thanks for this excellent essay. Regarding the publishing of photos of the fallen children–like another commenter, I’m thinking that a news outlet would definitely need to obtain legal permission in order to do so. I’m guessing that the only photos that exist are likely the property of a government entity, or entities. (I would be shocked to hear that any family members actually snapped photos of the carnage.) Regardless, there would also be the wishes/permission of the families to consider.

    All in all, I’m somewhat inclined to think that it might be counterproductive, since I can already hear the accusations of “cynical manipulation of public sentiment through the exploitation of innocents” (through the use of their photos).

    Reports are that even some of the most hardened law officers who answered the call are needing treatment for PTSD (due to what they saw when they finally entered the classroom) . If that is true (and who knows?), then it would be a difficult case to make, IMO, that these photos should be released, especially, since they might be viewed by young children who could be quite adversely affected.

    Having said that, have no problem with strong encouragement (not sure one can use force) that our federal representatives in Congress–since they’re all adults, and responsible for lawmaking–view some, if not all, of the photos.

    Got a couple more thoughts on this topic, but, right now, twenty minutes late taking Rambo out for walk, so better sign off.

    Later.

    Blue

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for weighing in Blue. I always appreciate your thoughtful feedback. You make good points. And it’s hard to say what the effect would be on the overall public. I guess you could say I’ve ran out of hope of anything working in D.C. A desperate plea for something-anything for that matter, that will shock our spineless politicians into action. I’m not optimistic but who knows?
      I’m thinking one way to get the photos out would be for someone to leak them to a media outlet and let them decide what to do with it. I doubt if it’s going to happen, regardless. We need to talk honestly and openly about this issue that is, again, uniquely American.
      Thanks Blue, we shall talk again….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Jeff–

        Very belated thank you for your usual gracious reply. Apologize for the long delay in answering–until things settle down a bit, guess I should refrain from even trying to post comments, if I can’t follow-up within an acceptable timeframe. Appreciate your excellent writings, and your reposting of various other well-informed and interesting writers.

        If we weren’t so covered up with several major projects (and trying to prepare to depart, if we can tie up enough loose ends), I’d be worried sick about the Schumer/Manchin “Drug Reform” negotiations. I’m going to try to throw out a couple Tweets warning on push to “cut the deficit” on the backs of seniors by paring down our Part D formularies to a “VA-like” skimpy or narrow formulary.

        (A vet in our family–Priority Group 3–has access to VA services, including their RX drug program. It’s great as a supplement, but he wouldn’t think of dropping his more generous Part D plan, since VA formulary is comprised of mostly generics.)

        For instance, the VA Formulary has only “3” tiers.

        Part D plans that I’ve seen have at least “5” tiers–occasionally, “6.”

        IMO, the best way to help seniors is to boost their Part D premium subsidies–not cut access to life-saving drugs based upon a Medicare beneficiary’s age and health status.

        Saw that Larry Levitt, KFF Vice Pres (on Twitter) boasted about the “savings” from Medicare Part D price negotiations (surprise–equals almost the same funding needed to the ACA premiums. Here’s a copy of his message,

        –snip–

        A couple useful Congressional Budget Office estimates to keep in mind:

        Federal savings over a decade from addressing drug prices in the House-passed Build Back Better bill: $297 billion

        Federal costs of extending ACA premium subsidies for 10 years: $220 billion

        –snip–

        Unfortunately, many, if not most seniors are relatively clueless regarding the economic metrics (QALYs) which will be implemented in order to achieve these so-called “savings.”

        Nor will they understand that lives of many seniors with chronic health conditions and/or persons with disabilities will be on the line–due to lack of access to higher priced RX’s, as a result of rationing based upon the QALY metric and CEVR Reports.

        CEVR = Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health

        VA Formulary – 1200 RX’s (that figure includes diabetic testing supplies, etc., not just prescription meds). My current Part D Plan has 3450 RX’s. Soon, Medicare Part D beneficiaries will be hoping that they won’t need treatment for a condition more serious than a “hangnail.”

        😦

        Heh, Rambo’s already boarded at “dog hospital” for surgery Tuesday. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

        Jeff, hope you and yours have a nice and safe long holiday weekend. Same to all OTFV readers. Hope it’s cooler in your neck of the woods, than it is here. Phew!

        Blue

        Postscript: Tired eyes, today–apologies in advance for any typos, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good to hear from you Blue, and thanks for the always pertinent information you provide whenever you respond. It’s much appreciated. I agree with you that subsidies should be increased for Part D. To me it’s a no-brainer. But, politics…..Ughhhh

        Liked by 1 person

  11. 1) Americans LOVE their guns
    2) Americans LOVE their guns
    3) Americans love their pets. Have a mass shooting of pets and more people will fight for gun control laws than for school safety.
    4) Emmett Till murder was nearly 70 years ago. People are not shocked by graphic violence. Check out a crime drama playing just about every minute. You still can’t drop an F-bomb on regular TV, but the more blood and guts and depravity the better.
    5) People in poor neighborhoods have been dealing with gun violence and every other form of violence for years. Nobody was talking gun control until groups like the Black Panthers had a call to arms. People have been getting shot up all over the world for centuries.
    6) Gun lovers hold onto there guns for a number of reasons. Protection and constitutional rights are the usual excuse, but in reality are low on the list. How many times have you heard a version of this story? “If someone ever broke into my house they would be in for a big surprise,” as if they are waiting for a home invasion.
    7) This site has some interesting statistics and confirms we are rapidly moving in the wrong direction: https://www.thetrace.org/2021/12/gun-violence-data-stats-2021/
    8) Gil Scott-Heron said it in his song over forty years ago:
    Everybody got a pistol
    Everybody got a .45
    And the philosophy seems to be
    At least as near as I can see
    When the other folks give up theirs, I’ll give up mine
    9-100) Americans LOVE their guns

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “If someone ever broke into my house they would be in for a big surprise” Ho boy!! Have I heard that line a time or two! The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming!

      Liked by 1 person

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