Edmonton

Online photo of Airdrie toddler holding BB gun causes a stir

An Airdrie mom is standing by her family's decision to let their two and a half year old pose with a rifle and shoot a BB gun.

'There is no age limit for firing a BB gun on private property,' says Cindy O'Hara

Jaxson poses on his family's acreage with a broken BB gun.

An Airdrie mom stands by her family's decision to let their two and a half year old pose with and shoot a BB gun.

Cindy O'Hara took the picture over the weekend of her son, Jaxson, holding the weapon. She posted it online.

For the most part, reaction to the picture was positive, she said.

But others who have responded negatively, calling O'Hara and her husband irresponsible.

 "The negative comments, I mean, some of them were pretty harsh, bashing me as a mom," said O'Hara, a stay-at-home mom and runs a day home. "But you have to take stuff like that at face value. It is on Facebook, and social media."

On O'Hara's own Facebook page, a poster named Kim Taylor wrote, "Better to teach him now than later! At least he's going to learn how to use it properly. Kudos to you and your family."

O'Hara said the picture of her son has been blown out of proportion. The BB gun the boy is shown holding doesn't even work.

"That particular picture that was posted is with a gun that does not fire," she said. "It's a broken one, as a matter of fact. That's why there's no parent standing with him, because that's one for a picture."

Later in the weekend, they let Jaxson shoot a working BB gun. He wanted the chance, his mother said, because two other children were shooting at gophers, and Jaxson wanted to join his brothers.

Photo caught the attention of RCMP

"It's what we do out there, and it's good practice," she said. "My eight year old was shooting at targets and he was beating the adults. We will take them to a proper shooting range, though, and get them taught properly, for sure, because it's something that we're both interested in."

The picture eventually got the attention of the Airdrie RCMP.

"One of the mom's on Airdrie wives Facebook group called the RCMP," O'Hara said. "And we actually received a call from the RCMP yesterday, wanting to investigate, you know, to get the details right.

"Because it is social media. And my husband spoke with them yesterday, and it was actually quite a good conversation and that was the end of it."

CBC showed the photo of Jaxson posing with the BB gun to some Edmonton residents. There was no mixed reaction: all the comments we received were negative.

"Well, maybe he'll grow up to be a sharpshooter," Claudio Catena said wryly.  "I think it's ridiculous. A two year old shouldn't be playing with a BB gun."

Craig Beattie agreed.

"I'd never let a child that young handle a firearm," he said. "It's not right. It's just not smart."

Carol Drisdelle flinched when shown the photo of Jaxson with the broken BB gun.

"I don't like it. Even though it's broken, I don't think it's appropriate."

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