One of my alter egos is that of a professional photographer, one who’s shot more than his share of weddings and engagement sessions. Since these are big events in their lives, couples frequently want to include items that are important to them during photo shoots. I’ve shot plenty of sessions that included family dogs. Some want to pose while wearing their alma mater’s football jerseys. And I once shot an entire wedding party who posed with shotguns, rifles and pistols. Why not? In a similar vein, Stephanie Wehner’s beau, Mitch Strobl, wanted to include a pose in their engagement session with his beloved Ruger Red Label 12-gauge. That wasn’t a problem, until they ordered prints through a Dallas area Walmart store. . .
When Wehner arrived at the Walmart at Central Expressway and Midpark Road to pick up the prints, she was told the photo with the firearm would not be released.
“She was very nice, but very matter-of-fact, like she was not going to budge or give me my photo,” Wehner said.
She even recieved a slip from the clerk that read: “MINUS ONE 5 X 7. NO WEAPONS.”
Yes, this was a Walmart store. One of the more firearms-friedly national retailers out there. How did they justify their anti-gun stance?
The clerk at the Walmart told Wehner it was the store’s “policy.” Wehner was told she can’t print pictures of guns.
But it’s the explanation that caught the couple off-guard. Wehner said the clerk told her the photo couldn’t be released because the weapon would promote a “gang culture.”
OK then. That’s obviously a different kettle of fish. Nothing says Crips, Bloods and Nortenos quite like an image of a broken-open Red Lable insoucianty slung over a dude’s shoulder.
Walmart’s photo studios are run by outside contractors, but that doesn’t mean situations like this don’t reflect badly on the Bentonville mothership. Apparently, this was all just a big misunderstanding. A training issue, if you will.
A Walmart representative later said the chain has no policy against printing out pictures with firearms.
“We had a new associate who was misinformed. Her actions are not consistent with our policy,” the representative said. Walmart officials said the policies have been reiterated to employees at the store.
Good to know. And maybe there are some lessons to be learned here by all parties involved. As for the store, throwing poorly trained people on the floor and treating customers badly – especially an employee of one of Dallas’ largest media outlets – can be bad for business. Not to mention embarrassing. As for Wehner and Strobl, next time, how about posing with a Beretta or Perazzi? You know, something not so easily mistaken for a gang piece?