Unlike Jay Feely, my dad would never pose with a gun as a joke
Jay Feely posed with his daughter, her prom date, and a gun.
As a child, I was probably more familiar and less fearful of guns than my peers. That's because my father, in addition to being a world-class egg scrambler and terrible joke teller, is a distinguished rifleman and rifle coach. His office walls are covered with plaques acknowledging his success in the sport, as well as a picture of me posing in an ammunition box as a baby.
My father had me pose in an ammo box — but never with a gun. Courtesy of Harold Rocketto
Like any dad, he wanted to share his passion with his children. But since his sport came with a certain stigma, he made sure my sister and I were well-versed in gun safety. He never left his rifles out in the open, and immediately stored them in their safe when he returned home from a match. He constantly reminded us that he did not use his rifles on people or animals, and never would. Heck, we weren't allowed to watch "Bambi" as kids because he didn't want us to associate him with the death of an adorable creature.
Because of my upbringing, my mind goes to a million places when I see a story about gun violence or gun regulations in the news. That was the case this weekend when former NFL player and CBS sports announcer Jay Feely shared a photo on Twitter that featured himself holding a handgun alongside his daughter and her prom date, as INSIDER previously reported.
Feely captioned the photo, "wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a great time at prom" with the hashtag #BadBoys. More than 12,000 people responded to the original Tweet at the time of publication. While there were some shows of support for Feely, the majority of the messages chastised the former Miami Dolphins player for the image.
Many were quick to point out the timing of Feely's tweet, which came two months after the shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a month after the March For Our Lives protests for stricter gun control, and the same week as the 19th anniversary of the infamous Columbine school shooting.
Others were frustrated by the message behind Feely's photo. To many, this photo promotes the idea that women, particularly young ones, are incapable of making decisions that won't lead to trouble; that they can't defend themselves and need a man to do it for them — bonus points if it's done with violence.
Feely did not respond to INSIDER's request for comment at the time of publication. He did, however, respond to the criticisms of his photo on Twitter.
"The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking," Feely wrote, adding that he takes gun safety seriously.
But as stories of the photo showed up in my Twitter feed, I couldn't help but think about my own dad who, like Feely, owns a gun. Despite being my protector, he never used his gun ownership or skills as a way to threaten gun use against me or my boyfriends — even as a joke. Even when an ex-boyfriend stalked me for a year and threatened my safety, my dad did not make a joke about having "a gun, a shovel, and an alibi" nor did he threaten this guy's safety with one of his many rifles. He simply asked how he could help me.
My dad, like many gun owners, is aware of the dangers guns can have when put in the wrong hands. He knows that roughly 96 Americans are killed by guns each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He knows that, as cited by Every Town, each month. He knows that nearly 1,300 children die from gunshot wounds each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And because he knows all this, he knows not to make jokes about gun violence.
And if he ever tried, he knows I have the self-agency to tell him off.
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