Young woman's pic of open carry a national story ... and that's a good thing

Go figure: Why would a well-composed picture of a young, attractive, pistol-carrying, female college student wearing a “Women for Trump” shirt go viral? As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote, let me count the ways. Viral is one thing, but the rather innocuous tweet became a national story picked up by ABC News, and that’s … a little tougher to explain, but worth exploring:

The senior at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, wanted the photo to “show who I am as a person,” she told ABC News.

Spencer’s tweet prompted positive and negative responses from pro-gun users, some of whom took issue with her “brandishing a firearm for a photo shoot or showing it off to try and look cool.”

The public response has surprised her, Spencer said. “I did think that it would get a little attention but not to this degree,” she said. “It was really, really surprising to see the amount of hate that I got.”

The news value of these exchanges is — without any other context — a little tough to see. Spencer’s tweet has gotten a significant response, but hardly overwhelming, with just shy of 100,000 responses and retweets combined. It’s not like Spencer’s getting ratio’d here either, with eight times as many likes and retweets than comments. Getting hate for supporting Trump (or practically anyone across the political spectrum) is nothing new either. Also, there are more than 16 million people with carry permits in the US as of the end of last year, so it’s not like this is some strange absurdity. Outside of the media bubble, concealed carry and self-defense is a fairly common occurrence.

However, give credit to ABC News for essentially reporting on its ubiquity and of Spencer’s reasonable pride in preparing for her own self-defense. Not only does the article not treat Spencer as an anthropological curiosity, ABC allows her to rebut criticisms thrown at her in ill-informed responses to her tweet.  Sam Reilly reports on this in a straightforward manner, showing Spencer as a bright and poised near-graduate rather than portray her as an extremist, dangerous, or ignorant.

It’s too bad, of course, that we don’t get more of this kind of coverage about the reality of gun ownership and self-defense. If we did, this wouldn’t have been news at all. Thankfully, Brenna Spencer spoke up for herself this weekend, and when criticism arose, stuck to her guns, figuratively and literally. Well done all around, and maybe the final paragraph can get the attention of campus-carry activists like our friends Kimberly Corban and Antonia Okafor:

“I carry everywhere that I’m allowed to carry,” she said, which excludes her college campus.