“WASHINGTON — After Lenny Pozner’s six-year-old son Noah died at Sandy Hook, he briefly contemplated showing the world the damage an AR-15-style rifle did to his child.
His first thought: “It would move some people, change some minds.”
His second: “Not my kid.”
Grief and anger over two horrific mass shootings in Texas and New York only ten days apart has stirred an old debate: Would disseminating graphic images of the results of gun violence jolt the nation’s gridlocked leadership into action?
From the abolition movement to Black Lives Matter, from the Holocaust to the Vietnam War to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, photographs and film have laid bare the human toll of racism, authoritarianism and ruinous foreign policy. They prompt public outcry and, sometimes, lead to change. But the potential use of these images to end official inertia after mass shootings presents new, wrenching considerations for victims’ families — many of whom adamantly reject such an idea.
“It is true that shocking photos of suffering occasionally do make an imprint,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, citing the photographer Nick Ut’s famous photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack in 1972.”