Last year, much of the Web's post-Christmas ire was directed at Twitter users who, like ungrateful brats, complained that Santa brought the wrong color iPhone or failed to deliver a car. This year, Internet denizens are upset that some people are bragging about their new guns — on Twitter and Instagram.
In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., gun control has once again become a topic of national debate. Yet the controversy isn't preventing those who are excited about the firearms Santa brought from joyfully posting about them on social media.
No matter which side of the gun control debate you're on, these images — first noticed by the Verge's T.C. Sottek and the Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield — could make you uncomfortable. There are plenty of men and women — some who appear to be teenagers — who appear to be disregarding the NRA's three fundamental rules of gun safety, particularly keeping fingers away from triggers, and pointing the guns only in safe directions. It's especially problematic since these posts are often accompanied by the #NRA hashtag.
Not that the recipients seem to care. "I got just what I wanted," one Twitter user wrote. "An Armalite semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. It's like the Christmas Story, but I'll shoot more than my eye out."
"Aw what a nice #assultRifle #santa left me haha (plus a box of 1200 bullets)," the caption on a young woman's Instagram photo said, next to the image of a rifle resting on the hearth next to a pile of wrapped Christmas gifts. (The girl later claimed, in a comment under her own post, that the gun was her dad's.)
Another Instagram user proudly posed in what appear to be fur-lined boots and a fur vest while holding her prized present. "Furs & Guns," she writes, "yes, it was a red-neck Christmas."
Searches for hashtags such as #AR15, #NRA, #Bushmaster, #gun and #SecondAmendment reveal plenty of photos of folks posing with their new firearms in front of Christmas trees and declaring how much they love their gifts.
One does have to wonder whether we'd pay as much attention to these images if it weren't for the recent national focus on firearms and the anticipation of tighter gun control measures. It's also worth asking if this apparent surge in gun pride isn't a side effect of the Newtown tragedy as well. As a prior report points out, while "a spike in gun sales is common after a mass shooting," and "the latest rampage has generated record sales in some states."
Between those sales statistics and social media's never-ending craving for drama, perhaps it was inevitable that last year's whiny gift recipients surrendered the spotlight to this year's gift-wrapped rifles.
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