DALLAS — Stephanie Wehner knew exactly what she wanted to do with an engagement photo she took with her fiancé holding his beloved 12-gauge Ruger Red Label shotgun.
“It depicts our love for each other, and I wanted to be able to display those at the reception,” Wehner said.
With her wedding to Mitch Strobl scheduled for this weekend, she had to just tie up some loose ends — like ordering photo printouts online at Walmart.
Wehner submitted 13 photos with varying poses, lighting, and background.
“She came with the idea to take a creative picture where we include something that is important to us,” Strobl said.
One of the 13 photographs submitted included Mitch’s shotgun. He said it was the first gun that he had purchased himself, calling it his “go-to” gun for outdoor sport.
When Wehner — an employee at WFAA-TV owned by Gannett, the parent company of USA TODAY — arrived at the local Walmart store 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 received a slip from the clerk that read: “MINUS ONE 5 X 7. NO WEAPONS.”
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.”
“To automatically to be lumped into that category of a gang… that hits a little close to home for us, because that isn’t our intent at all,” Strobl said.
Especially when you consider what he does for a living: Creating manuals for hunter safety and outdoor recreation.
“I did that in this picture; I made sure the action was open… that is was a safe photograph,” he said.
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.
Wehner and Strobl see this more as an attack on their First Amendment right to express themselves through photography.
What the couple didn’t want to turn this into was a debate about the Second Amendment.
Wehner and Strobl hope to quickly remedy the problem and find another place to print the photo. For Wehner — who likes to check things off her wedding to-do list — this was a just a minor hurdle. She does say, however, it’s a story that she can tell for years to come.