Photos are worth 1,000 lives


To the editor:

In the midst of Kim Phuc Phan Thi’s heart-wrenching recollection in The New York Times on June 12 of that day 50 years ago when she was horribly wounded by napalm even as her terror was recorded on film for all time — and for which she (that beautiful young girl, running and screaming from the scorching pain of napalm) will forever symbolize the horror of the Vietnam War as the “Napalm Girl” — she took a moment to offer us all a somber suggestion that may help bring some sensitivity to those who still endorse the weapons of war for use against our neighbors inside our own country. 

She suggests that the “images of carnage — especially of children — may seem unbearable, but we should confront them.” 

“It is easy to hide from the realities of (domestic massacres) if we don’t see the consequences,” she said. 

To so many in our nation, the private ownership of automatic weapons, military ammunition and oversized magazines is still embraced, defended and acceptable. Even as numbers like 60, 49, 32, 27, 26, 21 — representing the innocents murdered in each of our worst mass shootings — and the names of places where they once so peaceably lived like Paradise, Orlando, Blacksburg, Sandy Hook and Uvalde that are briefly paraded through the media after each incident.

To that population, these numbers and brief lessons in geography have passed by too quickly to have any lasting impact. Ms. Thi is brutally correct in suggesting that the actual, unretouched and uncensored images of dead children, bloodied, mangled and shredded by military armament ought to be widely shown. Photos, images cannot be “unseen,” and can have an enduring effect.

Too many of us have learned (incorrectly) about shootings and the power of guns only from television, movies and video games, where the heroes and even the villains brush off their wounds and return heroically in the next episodes. That is so far from the truth. The reality of bodies torn, dismembered and gutted as the result the misuse of military weapons and ammunition is so very different. 

As distasteful as showing the reality of the destructive force of military weapons must now seem to most of us, perhaps putting graphic images on full and frequent display will touch those certain of us who still waiver in their beliefs — minds might be changed, and we can all look forward to safer lives for our neighbors, our children and ourselves when true anti-gun representatives are elected around the country.

Today, Republicans have the opportunity to thump their chests and brag about the passage of “gun control” legislation in Washington. Background checks, education and age limits may indeed have an impact on reducing the American tragedy of gun violence. But, the only valid legislation that is necessary will be directed toward banning the manufacture, sale and ownership of military weapons and ammunition for civilian use.

Show the photos!  Show the films!

Show the photos and films to pro-gun advocates and their supporters. And show them to our representatives who still fail to enact adequate legislation to curtail the carnage — and demand that they address the horror that results from their inattention.

Stephen Budihas