I’m Not A Fan Of Obama Using Kids For Gun Control

obama using kids for gun controlAm I the only one who gets totally and weirdly uncomfortable when politicians use children to push their political ideals? A recent NPR article discusses Obama using kids for gun control, a choice that’s giving his agenda quite the boost. Though I’m glaringly liberal and in favor of tighter gun laws, I can’t help but cringe when I read stuff like this.

From NPR.org:

Kids are also synonymous with innocence. Every person interviewed for this story brought up the phrase “innocent children.” And that innocence can also be a useful tool, says Pippa Seichrist, president and founder of the Miami Ad School.

“Anything bad that happens is worse if it happens to a child because they’re fragile and they don’t have control over anything,” she says. “They’re at the world’s mercy. So we have this feeling to protect them and to want to make something better.”

That’s one reason Obama mentions kids every time he talks about gun violence.

Listen, I get it, the gun violence at Sandy Hook was the catalyst that really snapped politicians into action. So it’s not irrelevant for Obama to pull out the old “think of the children” rhetoric. It’s wonderful, noble, even, that real children have written letters to the president about gun violence—and he’s responded by inviting them to the White House. This sends a lovely message to children that they are people, too, and they may not have voting power but they still have a voice.

But there is a huge difference between lifting up the voices of real children and using children as political pawns. This is why the NPR article really gives me the heebie-jeebies. The underlying idea seems to be that there’s no harm in featuring children in political ads. In fact, the author would have you believe there’s a “freshness” to it that’s both welcome and heartwarming.

Yeah, no. I just don’t see how using children as pawns is a positive play. All of this just calls to mind the anti-abortion activists who use random pictures of babies to appeal to our emotions. And that’s exactly what it is: a cheap trick to sucker us into feeling guilty. It really irks me when complicated issues are reduced to black-and-white: if we don’t do this, our children are doomed.

Like I said before, there’s nothing wrong with actual children speaking out about issues. A child writing a letter to the president or a teenager posting a video online about how new laws will negatively affect his gay parents are wonderful efforts that we should publicize and encourage. But having a child actor in a political commercial or making blanket statements about how something is going to “burden our children”? Not cool.


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  • Tea

    I dislike using children for anything political, unless what you’re pushing for happens to be something like feeding them or directly related to foster care, ect.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Indeed. The whole gun control thing is somewhat of a gray area, I realize, because if we’re talking Sandy Hook then yes, it’s absolutely related to children. But take that out of the equation and it’s not exactly an issue that pertains to children exactly. Foster care and children going hungry are perfect examples of instances in which it’s completely acceptable to reference children.

  • Lastango

    Totally agree. Using children in an attempt to stampede public opinion is pure demagoguery.

    Resorting to using kids may be desperation; the push for new, national-level gun control legislation is not going well. Neither is the news cycle; I noticed yesterday that more than 700 teachers and administrators showed up for an orientation class in Texas aimed at having staff carry concealed inside schools:


    BTW, I don’t want to end this comment without saying how much I appreciate your choice to raise and discuss a flaw in an aspect of a program you and your peers fundamentally agree with. That takes character.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you! :-)

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I’m with you. I’m all for more gun control, but I find it a bit cheap, using kids.

    In fact, Using minors in ANY political ploy is cheap and frankly, somewhat underhanded. I specifically thinking of political conventions here, like the RNC and DNC. I’m also thinking of the girl who spoke out against marriage equality recently. The political world is an adult one, and for good reason. I think it should be kept that way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

    I am completely with you on this issue. I felt sick to my stomach, and ashamed of our president when he had the Sandy Hook children up on that stage when he signed his proposed gun legislation. It was disguisting. They had been thru enough shit, and then the media attacked them from all sides, then he had them up on stage, WTF! It should be illegal to use children like that, nobody likes seeing a child in pain, suffer, or die unnecessarily, but using them as a prop to push your political agenda, tells me your proposed laws are shit, a bandaid over a 2 foot wide gushing wound.

  • Andrea

    Yeah it is a bit wrong. However, I have a hard time blaming him. We have tried for decades to get some tighter gun control and we failed every time because the NRA has ridiculously deep pockets. So while I don’t really like it, maybe we are forced to stoop this low due to the circumstances.

  • AS

    I don’t know. I mean considering a room full of 5 and 6 year old children were murdered, I don’t think it is a far reach to include children in the discussion. Also, in the Aruora (sp?) shooting, children were killed as well. Just in today’s news there were 2 separate incidents where 4 year old children were playing with guns and shot another person, so I don’t believe we can ignore children when discussing gun control either. However, that being said we do need to stay away from the blanket “do it for the children” emotional ads.

  • cat

    Thank you for having the guts to say something! I think there are a lot of people who feel like you do and I’m one of them. I don’t think it’s fair to the memories of these children or to their families to use them for political gain. I see that as what the government is doing by pushing all these new gun laws instead of pursuing the ones we have on the books. And considering the legislation was done within HOURS of Sandy Hook you can’t tell me it realy had anyting to do with those kids in particular. They were just the catalyst to enact the change these people wanted to see regardless of what it would do to stop futher violent acts like this one.

  • free2b1956

    oh but you don’t seem to mind that the NRA is using kids to push more guns into the hands of the public , ironic that you hate the image of a child being used for gun control , but not for Profit. Could be why Americans are losing out to corporations. It’s ok to sell a gun using the image of a child , but not gun control. only in Murica