Monitoring Out the Big Guns: Central Texas users respond to Bumble’s firearm ban

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

By Didi Martinez | Digital Managing Editor

Images of users packing heat may soon be taken down by Bumble, which has announced that it will be moderating profiles for pictures of guns.

The move by the popular dating app comes after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that occurred in February and has since reignited debates about gun control.

“As mass shootings continue to devastate communities across the country, it’s time to state unequivocally that gun violence is not in line with our values, nor do these weapons belong on Bumble,” wrote Bumble in a blog post.

This, no less, will affect those in the Central Texas area, with plenty of public hunting locations nearby, the Fort Hood military base nearly an hour away and policies allowing lawful gun owners the right to carry openly. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of 2017, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued more than 293,751 handgun licenses, with 3,113 of those granted in McLennan County alone.

And although Bumble said the new policy will not affect military or law enforcement in uniform, some individuals say they have mixed feelings about the new rule.

“I’m kind of on the fence about the policy because I can see where they are coming from,” said Cindy Liu, a Baylor alumna who has used Bumble. “Like for me, that was a pretty good screener in what I was and wasn’t looking for in a partner. While it’s important to talk about how guns are presented, it was a useful tool for me.”

Nicole Pepper, a Waco resident and Baylor alumna agrees, and said that while she prefers not to see pictures of guns, the old policy wasn’t entirely problematic to begin with.

“It’s so much easier to just immediately swipe left and get rid of it,” Pepper said. “If I see pictures of it [guns], I’m not even going to think about swiping right. I think that for a lot of women it [gun carrying] ends up being a turn off.”

Some dislike the move because they see the policy as involuntarily bringing politics into dating.

“I don’t agree with different social media or dating site censoring pictures because that to me becomes very politically charged,” said Ballinger senior Brandon Vasquez.

Vasquez, a gun owner and National Rifle Association member, said the move doesn’t open up the issue of gun ownership to discussion but rather, opens it up to one side.

“I think having the picture itself would promote more conversation than not having the picture,” said Vasquez, who cited the “hillbilly” and “redneck” stereotypes he’s encountered as a self-proclaimed Second Amendment supporter.

“I do feel that there are some people who I have met that do see me a bit differently for some reason,” Vasquez said. “I’ve been accused of supporting mass murder because I support the Second Amendment. I just wish people on the other side, or both sides for that matter, would be more understanding.”

Regardless, gun ownership does seem to be a matter of preference among daters. For some, the debate as to whether to swipe right or left on a person comes down to avoiding future conflict.

“So if the picture is just someone holding a handgun, that was just an automatic left swipe for me,” Liu said. “That would be an issue that would definitely come up and I didn’t even want to introduce that can of worms.”

For others, like Vasquez, finding a significant other is less about shared interest and more about support.

“All I would ask is that they would be okay with me being a gun owner and they understand that I have the right to own guns,” Vasquez said.