Mitch Strobl is a passionate man. He loves his God, he loves his fiancé, and he loves hunting and the shooting sports. His career is dedicated to producing curricula that teach millions of folks how to hunt, shoot, and handle firearms safely.
So when Mitch met Stephanie Wehner, it was only natural their dating included sharing the passion for hunting and the shooting sports. When the couple decided to get married, they took engagement photos which included these passions. One in particular shows Mitch with a Ruger Red Label shotgun broken over his shoulder—it’s the first gun he bought on his own with his own money. It’s a treasure he plans to hang on to all his life, just like his beautiful, soon-to-be new bride.
As a news clip from Dallas’ WFAA TV shows (embedded below), sharing those passions and those photos with the guests at Mitch and Stephanie’s wedding reception was the plan. Then came a bump in the road.
Stephanie took the digital photos to a local Walmart to have them printed for the display she was creating, but an associate at the store refused to print the image with the shotgun in it because in her mind and interpretation of store policy, “It promoted gang culture.”
Gang culture? Look at these two people in the photographs. What about them says “gang culture” to you?
Being intelligent, level-headed people, it didn’t take long for them to figure out what to do. As Mitch concludes in his interview, “we’re just going to print it elsewhere.” Practical, reasonable, get it done, and move on.
However, it’s important Mitch and Stephanie brought this affront to public attention through this news story. The calm, respectful way they did it shows them to be thinking, clean-cut, passionate, fun-loving people leading everyday lives. It shows the world that these are the kind of people the shooting sports world is mostly made of.
No protesting with signs outside the Walmart store. No ranting and raving. No language that had to be bleeped from the interview. Simply expressing a passion for the shooting sports and the real facts about who its participants are.
While to many pro-gun supporters and rabid anti-gunners this kind of statement may be too milquetoast, it’s exactly the kind of message that plays very well with the largest group in the middle—the ones whose votes ultimately determine our future.
Mitch and Stephanie—thank you for being part of the shooting sports world. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for sharing your story. Here’s to wishing for a wonderful life together.
Editor’s note: Walmart later announced that the associate who refused to print Mitch and Stephanie’s photos was misinformed, and that Walmart has no policy against printing photos with guns.
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These insights brought to you by Federal Premium Ammunition, ThermaCELL, Camp Chef, and the Quebec Outfitters Federation.
Image is a screenshot of video by USA TODAY on YouTube