is it okay to hang target practice sheets up at work?

A reader writes:

I work for a large multinational company, and recently an executive made a visit to the office I work in. She held an informal Q&A which everybody in the office attended, and which took place in a section of the office I very rarely visit since the department that works there does not do any work with my department.

During the meeting I couldn’t help but notice that at the desk closest to the door, there were two target practice sheets from a gun range hanging at somebody’s desk. One was a bull’s-eye, and the other was the silhouette of a human head. Both had a number of bullet holes, including ones right in the center of each target. I found this extremely unsettling and my first instinct was “Who would think it’s okay to hang this up at their desk???”

But I have very strong feelings on guns, so I can’t tell if I’m just having a personal reaction to it or if it is as hugely inappropriate as I think it is. The message it sends to me is “Hey coworkers, just want you all to know that I can make a headshot from 80 yards. Also I love guns, which means I might carry one with me in the office!” Both of those things make me very uncomfortable. (Note: I do not want this question to re-open the debate about guns in offices, as it’s not really the point.)

I have been trying to think of it more as somebody expressing pride at a sports accomplishment, but I would honestly think it was very weird if somebody kept a karate trophy in their cubicle (and unless they’re REALLY advanced, I don’t think their hobby is likely to kill anybody).

Do you think this is something appropriate to display in an office setting? Would it matter if it were in a private office vs. a cubicle (this was in a half-wall cubicle and therefore visible to anybody walking in the door)? I unfortunately do not know who sits at the desk in question as they were not present at the meeting, so if I ultimately wanted to report it to somebody it wouldn’t really be feasible at this point. But I would at least like to know whether I’m totally off-base here.

Some extra context, in case it’s relevant: our office is in a large city in which hunting isn’t a common hobby, and the atmosphere of the office is very corporate.

Nooooo, it’s inappropriate.

A silhouette of a human head with bullet holes in it is inappropriate for an office, full-stop. The bull’s-eye target is slightly less outrageous, but still inappropriate for work. Nothing even resembling violence belongs there, and that’s true whether it’s in a private office or out in the open.

And if some people think that’s an overreaction, they need to consider that there are loads of people who will feel as uncomfortable as you did, including clients and visitors. That trumps whatever argument someone could make for keeping it up.

And what would that argument be, anyway? That it’s the person’s hobby and they’re as entitled to express their interests as anyone else is? That doesn’t hold water, because workplaces necessarily have lots of priorities above “let people express their interests,” like ensuring that other employees and visitors aren’t made deeply uncomfortable and aren’t left feeling unsafe, particularly if there’s a really easy fix to that (like “don’t hang up your target practice sheets”).

For what it’s worth, though, I do think you’re off-base about a karate trophy being weird. That wouldn’t seem any different to me than a soccer trophy or a rice-sculpting trophy. Those things aren’t about weapons, whereas the target practice sheets are.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 754 comments… read them below }

  1. sunny-dee*

    Fun fact: if a black belt in any martial arts gets in a fight, legally it’s considered assault with a deadly weapon. Karate et al don’t have the social connotation that guns do (and that is a pretty important distinction) but it doesn’t make them less deadly. It’s just that, like, putting up a trophy is not the same as hanging up a bloody tunic. One is more overtly violent than the other.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Guns are objectively MUCH more deadly, though, as I commented below. It’s not political, it’s a fact based on physics. More damage can be done to many more people much more rapidly and from a much greater distance with a firearm.

      1. TL -*

        And karate/other material arts don’t automatically translate to being good at street fighting. A tournament is very different from a bar fight.

        1. Stephanie*

          And a good studio will emphasize that the techniques learned aren’t there for people to act out their Street Fighter fantasies.

          1. TL -*

            But even then, I’ve known several people in my life who were basically paid to fight (bouncers cleaning up a rough club, military/bodyguard positions, cops), and I’m never heard any of them worry or talk about an encounter with a martial artist. The skills just aren’t that transferable to real world situations for the majority of practitioners.

            1. Aurion*

              I think that depends on the style of martial art. I have a coworker who trains in…Krav Maga, I think. He got mugged by two people one night and fought back; knocked one out cold (I think the other one ran off after getting knocked down). The cops actually held my coworker for questioning overnight, though in the end it was clear it was self-defense (and the muggers were apparently ones who’d been mugging other people, so yay they caught them?).

              But of course, firearms are much more deadly than any martial artist. That’s just physics.

              1. TL -*

                Krav Maga is a notable exception! It was developed to teach soldiers street fighting, so it’s way more applicable in real life situations than most martial arts.

                1. De Minimis*

                  I have heard that judo, and anything else that focuses on grappling can be useful in real-life situations.

                2. TL -*

                  I think the main problem isn’t how useful the moves are, but how much you can actually apply them when surprised and in a no-rules situation. Being able to throw someone is great, but if you can’t respond quickly to unplanned stimulus; if you pull your punches for fear of hurting someone; or if you fight with rules in mind, you’ve going to be fairly useless in a real life situation. Being in a fight and sparring are very, very, very different things.

                  Krav Maga is *taught* differently, more like a self-defense class, which is my understanding of the main difference.

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  My wife is ex-Israeli Defense Forces and has a lot of krav maga experience – the real, original variety, not the self-defense techniques. It’s dirty pool by the standards of most martial arts, but my god is it effective.

              2. BananaPants*

                Krav Maga was developed by the Israeli military specifically for self-defense. By design it promotes finishing a fight as quickly as possible (i.e. by neutralizing the attacker) and has moves/techniques that can easily injure or kill.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Yep. You do lots of nasty, violent things to joints and places where organs are close to the surface.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Well, technically it was designed by a Jewish guy to train up fellow Jews to protect their Central European neighborhoods from roving bands of antisemitic homicidal fascist gangs. He was trained in a bunch of things – boxing, judo, I forget what all, I think circus training was in there somewhere? – and learned dirty tricks in the street brawls and as an Allied combat soldier. He was later in one of the pre-Israel Jewish self defense militias* that segued into various branches of military and intelligence. The Jewish military adopted his style of fighting and made it their official combat training methodology.

                  *For jaw dropping reading, read up on Lekhi, Etzel, and Ha’ganah. Keep reading till you get to the Altalena.

              3. Aurion*

                I just asked the coworker and it turns out he trains in Muay Thai, not Krav Maga. Given that it’s full contact fighting, it probably still has decent crossover to street fights.

                (I am in no way disputing Alison’s advice and the fine points from the commentariat, I just thought this was an interesting tangent.)

              4. ATXFay*

                Yes, to Krav! My husband and I have trained in it for years. I love it most of all because of the application to real life situations. I have no doubt I can manage myself should someone try to get fresh or put my life at risk. We practice techniques that get us in and out of a dangerous situation as quickly as possible. Unlike many other martial arts, we don’t practice attacking, per se. It’s all about defending. We’ve done scenarios including car jackings, wearing high heels and carrying purses/bags/other items in our arms. By far the best self defense training one could get, IMO. Side note: people don’t often “compete” in the same sense other MA forms do.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Totally. No silly outfits, bowing, or stylized forms. It’s all very practical and recognizable and efficient for self defense.

            2. Marty*

              Yep, most marital artists aren’t going to be getting in fights with people paid to fight legitimately. There is unlikely to be a need, and self control is typically a strong component of the training.

          2. CC*

            And a good studio will also have a culture of you do not attack people, and if you are attacked you respond proportionately.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yup. My experience with martial artists (of any stripe — including my old fencing club) was that there is a lot of focus on how you do not use your skills to be some kind of Zorro.

              1. Simonthegreywarden*

                We had to memorize and recite steps to de-escalating situations before we were taught anything other than basic foot positioning at the dojo I trained at in college.

      2. Julia*

        Plus, you rarely hear about your own karate being used against you, or kids finding a karate-fighter and accidentally killing someone/themselves.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                So in the last seven days, I’ve caused someone to shoot a gummy bear out their nose, and now chicken curry on the desk. Plus some spit-takes. Banner week for me.

              2. JessaB*

                Pepsi on my keyboard, and at least my sinuses are now clear. Thank you (that was semi sarcasm.) Snorking Pepsi feels completely weird.

              1. JessaB*

                I need to remember that no matter what the topic (even things I think can never be made funny,) I must not drink whilst reading AAM.

    2. A Nonny Mouse*

      One judge made one decision that a fighter had committed ADW because of his training. This is far from the norm.

      1. animaniactoo*

        And iirc the issue was that the person had an extreme amount of training – far outside the norm for a “black belt” – and that the amount of damage done to the other person was considered excessive since the martial artist had enough knowledge to disable while doing less damage, but did not choose to do that.

        1. A Nonny Mouse*

          You’re remembering correctly.

          We did active shooter training at work recently. The instructor told us that we are well within our rights to defend ourselves should the situation arise. But once the attacker is out cold or can’t move or whatever, we’re no longer defending ourselves and need to stop.

          1. De Minimis*

            There was a case like that in my home state, a pharmacist shot a robber who was already incapacitated. He ended up getting life in prison.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              Oh my god, I know this case! I tell people about it all the time. It’s a great example of what is and isn’t self-defense. (Also, a really sad and upsetting story.)

      2. Bluebonnet*

        Yes. Yet another person playing lawyer on an issue that they really haven’t researched.


        I am a lawyer. I was formerly a cop and have ongoing police firearms and defense training courses available to me. I would be held to a higher standard by the investigators, but, as a matter of law, in my jurisdiction, justification of use of force is the same for me as it is for Chuck Norris as it is for a Navy Seal as it is for a grandma with a shotgun whose never picked it up. So if it got to court, the prosecution could not use my training to hold me to a higher standard than Grandma Nellie. Period.

    3. paul*

      That is very off the mark. It can be taken into account if a fighter beats someone to death or something (i.e: hey, you do 10 hours of MMA training a week, you should have known this could kill a person) but your statement is false.

      It’s particularly egregious given that there isn’t some worldwide governing body that determines how hard it is to get a black belt. There’s McDojos in town here that’ll give ’em to anyone that pays enough testing fees.

      1. Julia*

        Wait, what? I don’t know about karate, but my brother is a national (though not US) authority in judo and as far as I have heard, there are outside committees when it comes to black belts, and the even higher ranks are even stricter.

        1. paul*

          Those standards only apply to schools affiliated with that entity though; there’s a whole passel of organizations (I think IMAF is the biggest) but there’s nothing saying unaffiliated schools can’t set up shop (and plenty do).

          1. Manders*

            Yep, this is how it usually works. There’s nothing legally stopping you from declaring yourself or anyone else to be a black belt, making up and naming your own style of martial art, claiming that you’ve uncovered the ancient secrets of ninjutsu, etc.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              I am a ninety-fourth Dan grand master of Quivering Rabbit-style moo goo gai pan.

          2. Halpful*

            The way my sensei described it, the more belts they have, the more likely they’re just in it for the money. Apparently some places, having run out of solid/stripe options, even have camoflage-pattern belts. :P

        2. KG, Ph.D.*

          You can be an unaffiliated school. For example, most taekwondo schools are affiliated with either the WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) or ITF (International Taekwondo Federation), but as far as I know, there is no international or federal law preventing me from opening an unaffiliated taekwondo school. Also, the oversight from the governing bodies is not as meticulous as you quite imagine. For black belts under the WTF system, for example, there are minimum ages for each degree of black belt as well as minimum time between ranks, but even those can be overridden (a friend of mine was promoted ahead of schedule because our grandmaster had enough clout to Make It So).

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, my 12-year-old brother in law has a black belt in tae kwon do and let me assure you, he is not a skilled fighter.

        1. Phyllis B*

          Yep. When my son quit tae kwon do at the age of 7, he was a blue belt. There were one or two eight-ten year old black belts in his class. REALLY??? That just showed me this (particular) studio was more about profit than really training properly.

    4. Delta Delta*

      That depends on the jurisdiction and if the law in that particular jurisdiction provides for charging an assault that way.

    5. The Literary Engineer*

      I don’t think that you’re correct. Martial arts have different levels of black belt, for instance. That also depends upon the intent of the fight. You’d never have to go to court for defending yourself and fleeing, even if you break a bone of your offender in the process.

      As far as I know there was one case, but it was compounded with intent, severity of the attack, and the end result. Simply getting into a fight itself doesn’t mean you’re coupable in assualt with a deadly weapon.

    6. The OP*

      On the subject of the karate trophy thing, it was just a random example of something a person might have a trophy for (I can see that I phrased it poorly). I wouldn’t have a moral problem with somebody having a karate trophy at their desk, I would just think it was strange.

      1. Zombii*

        I would think it was strange for any adult human thing to display a trophy or award at their desk, barring professional certification/recognition. That kind of thing stops being impressive in middle school—or maybe college if you were particularly competitive, and profoundly insecure.

    7. Abby*

      I agree. Displaying a trophy for marksmanship is much different than targets. My family hunts and I would take someone displaying target sheets at work as a threat.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Yes – that is the biggest standout to me, too. A trophy awarding your skill is completely different than the targets you’ve used to practice your skill. I would report this sighting to HR – I wouldn’t think you need to name anyone in this case since you don’t know who sits there.

    8. Imaginary Number*

      Fun fact = urban legend in this case. Usually something passed around at karate studios because teenagers like to brag that they’re deadly weapons.

    9. Wendy Darling*

      If there’s an Active Kicker Event somewhere where a black belt in something kills multiple people, I think the karate trophy would suddenly start getting the side-eye.

      I don’t think that’s going to happen, though, because martial arts are a way less efficient way of murdering a lot of people.

    10. MommaTRex*

      I can’t believe that is ANY martial arts black belt. I’m getting close to black belt in taekwondo, and at best I will be able to beat another over-40, slightly overweight woman who is not a black belt in anything. And it will be nothing close to deadly (but she will probably show some really good bruises later). My best hope against anyone younger and/or stronger than I is to surprise them with one really good shot, a loud kiyap, and then run like crazy while they are confused.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Hmmm. Either you are my sister or you and my sister have a lot in common. [Heads off to ask sister if she’s posting on AAM too…]

        1. MommaTRex*

          Well, my user name is not all that anonymous. Especially to my sister.
          But I also know several women like me, and we do like to spar with each other!

        1. MommaTRex*

          One punch or kick to kill somebody?
          I’ll stick with my school, because I wouldn’t make it in the other kind!

    11. IANAL (I Argue Nightly About Llamas)*

      This is the plot of the Nicholas Cage classic Con Air. It makes me happy.

    12. Ky-Utz!*

      A myth that will never die…
      no, you do not have to register your hands/feet/body as a lethal weapon
      no, it is not considered assault with a deadly weapon if you are a martial artist if you were defending yourself against an attack.

      Yes, I am a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwon Do
      Yes, if I’m attacked I feel confident I could do severe damage to someone else; I try to make sure I would never be in the position to have to defend myself like that.
      Yes, I have pictures up of me sparring and getting in a really good hit
      It is a sport, one I enjoy, and totally legal
      I could also do pretty good damage with my knitting needles.

      If I got a bulls-eye, I’d hang it in my office
      if I was good enough to do an outline (okay, I’d do a smiley face), I’d hang it in my office.
      It’s a sport, one I enjoy, and totally legal.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Hi Ky-Utz!
        I too am a second degree black belt in Taekwondo. My school is a WTF school. Is yours?

    13. Noah*

      “Fun fact: if a black belt in any martial arts gets in a fight, legally it’s considered assault with a deadly weapon.”

      It’s not a fact, at least not in most states, the vast majority of which have statutes or case law clarifying that the “deadly weapon” must be something other than the body of the person committing the assault.

  2. Roscoe*

    I’m definitely torn on this one. While I could definitely see the head target practice as being a bit unsettling, the bullseye is a bit different to me. I just can’t make the leap from “Joe likes to go to the shooting range” to “Joe might be carrying a gun at work”. I like shooting targets. I have a foid card. And I don’t own a gun. If I did, I doubt I would bring it to work either.

    Is hunting ok? Archery? What if you liked to go to renaissance fairs and had a pic of you with your big sword? I guess I don’t see where the line of hobbys is drawn to what you can and can’t express in the office.

    1. Alex "Barney" Barnaby*

      I was thinking the same thing re: archery. If you had a picture of yourself up with an archery bullseye, would that be inappropriate?

      Although we now consider archery a sport, it was originally for hunting and warfare, i.e. what we now use guns for. There are also plenty of people who shoot competitively (it’s even an Olympic sport!). As one pistol instructor explained to me when I got unsettled with the gun in my hand, an alien culture that does not understand violence would develop a sport like competitive shooting, because it’s an outstanding test of hand-eye coordination and creates easily-quantifiable results.

      (Of course, that is not our culture, but it’s important to understand that “guns = violence” is simplistic and wrong.)

      1. Chickaletta*

        I think the implication of violence is found in the bullet holes in a silhouette of a human head that the coworker hung in their cubicle. If someone drew a picture of an arrow going through a human head, it would be equally inappropriate.

      2. Koko*

        I even think a small photo on the desk of the marksman standing next to an impressive practice sheet would be categorically different from the practice sheet itself.

        I agree with the person above who compared it to the difference between a karate trophy and a bloody tunic. Bringing the actual bullet-hole-ridden object in is more visceral than seeing a photo or trophy celebrating good marksmanship.

      3. designbot*

        I think there’s a difference for a few reasons. First, if you had a bow and arrow at work, people would notice, vs. if you had a gun at work maybe nobody would know. Second, I think the head-shaped target is the place where this particularly crosses a line into being threatening, and those aren’t the norm in archery. There’s also something different about a photo of yourself or a trophy or something as opposed to the physical evidence of the shooting. It’s not just “guns = violence” it’s that guns are a form of violence that is particularly effective, concealable, and that this particular display is just a bit too directly personal.

        1. Green Arrow*

          I’m not a gun rights advocate, but you can easily collapse a bow and arrows into something the size of a brief case. Assemble it surreptitiously and a good marksman could potentially inflict just as much damage or fatality as anyone with a handgun.

          1. Fushi*

            Not…really. A bow’s firing speed is not comparable to that of a gun, especially if we’re talking the kind of bow that is easy to dissamble. Plus, however surreptitious you are, assembling your bow and taking out your arrows (which I assume would be broadheads if you’re trying to do real damage), is way more time-consuming and obvious than pulling a gun out of a holster. Not to mention that narrow hallways and cubicles are less than ideal surroundings for positioning yourself to fire a bow.

            Yeah, there are people who can fire bows fast and accurately, but they practice over and over in controlled conditions to be able to do that, so that skill generally does not translate to being able to randomly pull out one’s bow at the office.

            (That said, I would still find it unsettling if someone had one of those bear-shaped targets riddled with holes and propped up in their office.)

    2. Whats In A Name*

      I think the biggest difference to me here is that a picture of you at a target range, a picture of you with a bow and arrow or a picture of you dressed in renaissance dress is very different than a picture of you with a body after shooting someone in the head, driving a bow and arrow through their heart or beheading them. The actual act of violence is on display when a picture of a human head with gun (or bow and arrow) holes dead center is hung in a public place. I even think the target might be acceptable. The depiction of a head I can’t get on board with.

      I lean towards trophies for winning these types of competitions or a picture of a mounted deer head are also fine.

      1. Over Development*

        This. I work with a sport shooter and he has trophies and plaques in his office. He also has hunting photos up. Somehow shooting range targets (especially the head one) are just stepping over the line.

      2. A. Non*

        Yes, trophies and pictures say “I’m proud of my skill at my hobby”. Mangled targets say “I can kill people.”

      3. Arlie Ermy*

        It sounds like some folks are assuming the displayed target is a lifelike picture with holes in its head….

        The great majority of paper targets are not pictures of people. They are black silhouettes without details, except for target lines. They are not lifelike.

        I can see that, if one is very sensitive to guns, seeing one with holes in it might be disturbing. You have my sympathy.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          You likely won’t see this at all but I know exactly what a target looks like and whether it’s a black silhouette (like the one my grandparents have hanging of all their children) or a cartoon depiction it’s still a head.

          I am not particularly sensitive to guns as I’ve grown up around and shoot, but showing a kill shot on a black silhouette is not much different to me than showing a kill shot on a more lifelike photo.

    3. Jessie the First (or second)*

      I really, really do not think it is the hobby that is the problem. It is how the worker expressed it.

      Pick a way to express your enjoyment of your hobby, whatever it may be, that does not emphasize or call attention to violence against a person (so, no silhouette of a head with a gunshot, and no silhouette with a “wound” from an archer’s bow, etc).

      I think pictures of you with a weapon – whether gun, bow, sword – is a gray area and some people and offices would have a problem with it, others would not.

      Though I have to say, I don’t get the issue here on a more basic level. My office is not where I go to express myself. That is not what work is for. So I do not have the picture of me shooting my gun here on my desk. It is at home. And that is not a sacrifice.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Though I have to say, I don’t get the issue here on a more basic level. My office is not where I go to express myself. That is not what work is for. So I do not have the picture of me shooting my gun here on my desk. It is at home. And that is not a sacrifice.

        This is where I am. There are plenty of things that I enjoy that I don’t feel the need to decorate my office with.

        On that level, this letter actually kind of reminds me of the LW a month or so ago who wanted to put her political views on display at work. I understand that most people spend a lot of their days at work, but some things are better left at home.

    4. Ashie*

      We had active shooter training at work this morning so this is very top-of-mind for me. The sergeant giving the training said they are always planned events, and that there are always signs that something was off. People who see whatever the Not Ordinary thing is are often reluctant to report it because they don’t want to be seen overreacting. Target sheets showing a human head might or might not mean anything, but it’s definitely a red flag.

    1. Hotstreak*

      Removing the targets won’t make you any safer. I think if you rarely go in to that section of the office you should let it go. If the people who see them every day object, let them protest. In my opinion a silhouette is in poor taste.

      I can’t help but mention the sports analogies because of how obnoxious they are to me. People die doing martial arts, football, and many other sports, but OP is not scared of the guy who used to play peewee football? You are aware that regular, untrained people without firearms, kill each other all the time? I would suggest examining your unreasonable paranoia of guns, and tempering your perception of danger down to a level closer to reality. That would serve you regardless of what posters are in your office.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        I don’t necessarily think the OP has an unreasonable paranoia of guns. Someone with these targets up at their desk could be a legitimate enthusiast (which usually means they’ve had extensive safety training and demonstrate appropriate respect for the weapon) or they could be a nut with a gun who enjoys scaring their coworkers. OP doesn’t know, and that seems to be what makes them nervous. I agree with your central assertion that letting it go makes sense, since OP doesn’t have to regularly be exposed to it-maybe the target owner’s direct coworkers know he’s a legitimate enthusiast and aren’t nervous, so haven’t reported it. But I don’t think it shows paranoia that someone without any context would be nervous by seeing what amounts to a trophy for the ability of the owner to shoot someone in the head displayed in the workplace.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          And it’s just inappropriate. It’d be like tacking up a beer poster, or a strong political viewpoint, or a sign with a prostylestizing message, or something of that nature. Weapons, alcohol, religion, sex, and politics are tier 2 topics that you shouldn’t subject your coworkers to due to the range of strong opinions people have about them – agree or not.

          1. Formica Dinette*

            This is what I keep coming back to: subjects that are inappropriate for work. If I were a burlesque performer, would it be appropriate for me to hang a photo of me performing in my office? Or display a competition trophy? Nope.

        2. Bluebonnet*

          OP may have an unreasonable paranoia of guns, but that’s beside the point.

          As someone who owns a LOT of guns and shoots daily, I think this is very, very inappropriate. I would fire someone on the spot for putting up something like this. Why? Because in our current culture this is both a political statement (inappropriate at work) and potentially threatening. (It could also trigger someone with PTSD). I don’t care what the shooter’s intent is or if he’s an otherwise safe person. Still wrong.

          I’me assuming a he b/c I’ve never seen a woman post targets anywhere other than her own garage.

          1. Security SemiPro*

            I’ve put mine on my fridge. When they were good. Specifically when they were better than my far more practiced husband’s.

        1. KellyK*

          You don’t have to think guns are icky or scary to be concerned by blatant references to violence at your workplace, which is what a human head silhouette with bullet holes is.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Wow, that is insanely condescending to the OP, who wrote in a rational question. She’s aware that she is uncomfortable with guns but that doesn’t mean she is being irrational and it certainly doesn’t warrant this rudeness.

        3. Artemesia*

          My confidence that a person who brags about being able to blow people’s heads off has good judgment about gun safety is pretty low. And bragging about the ability to kill feels pretty intimidating. If he had a trophy for marksmanship in his office or a ribbon award, I would think he was a bit of a twink but not be concerned, but a head target filled with bullet holes — that is intended to threaten people. This is the guy who when he was 10 rode his bike within half an inch of you repeatedly and when called on it said he ‘didn’t do anything’.

          1. Buffy*

            OK…I get your viewpoint but in the same vein of other comments on the opposite side assigning this person as “brags about being able to blow people’s heads” seems to also be going a little far. Police officers shoot at those types of targets all the time when they’re training. I’d hope they’re pretty good judges of gun safety. Per Alison’s guidelines, I think everyone is getting a little overreactionary.

            1. Gandalf the Nude*

              I can’t think of a reason to take and display a used target other than bragging rights, but maybe someone else can.

              1. Buffy*

                Yes, but not about shooting someone in the head. I agree the silhouette shouldn’t be in an office, but trying to assign that to someone because it simply happened to be the provided target that day is very much stretching.

              2. fposte*

                Bragging about marksmanship, yes, just as a trophy would be bragging about your whateversmanship; that doesn’t mean you’re bragging about your ability to blow people’s heads off, though.

                1. Gandalf the Nude*

                  I take your point, and I suppose I just don’t very often see the kind of person who would think this is workplace appropriate and doesn’t glorify their marksmanship as the ability to bodily harm another person. I obviously do not know every gun owner in America, though.

              3. Buffy*

                What I mean is I understand it’s easier to defend the OP when you ideologically side with them, but also try to remember that with person being written about.

              4. Anon for this bit*

                Bragging about marksmanship is very much a skill thing among the large segment of my family that hunts for food. I’ve never had to rely on a rifle to guarantee my family could eat, and it’s not something I’d like to try, but I’m half a generation away from that in some places on my family tree. I have holiday dinners with people who have living memories of that kind of dependence on hunting. God bless grocery stores and the money to shop at them.

                I can see bragging rights for marksmanship completely devoid of connection to, much less glorification of, violence against humans. I can also see some office dwellers who may or may not have that separation.

            2. Roman*

              It’s all context. Bragging about getting a headshot at the range to the guys in your airsoft team? Totally appropriate. Bragging about it to your workmates… Maybe not so much.

              Not to mention, by displaying the targets without providing any context at all, means your workmates are left to puzzle over whether you’re displaying your marksmanship training, or displaying a giant red flag that you have a passion for violence.

          2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

            OT – but does twink have multiple meanings? Because when I think marksmanship trophy I’m definitely not thinking twink

          3. Simonthegreywarden*

            I’m gonna contrast my dad and my father in law briefly. My FIL is a hunter (primarily archery, though has guns and does gun hunt). He’s good at it, he enjoys it, he never kills for ‘fun’ (they eat what he kills, he uses hides and sinews in his bowmaking, etc.). He’s talked me through some of his good hunts (not entirely my choice) and these are clean kills; he doesn’t like to cause suffering, so he doesn’t take a shot unless he’s sure. He’s incredibly strict about following all laws and regulations and licensing, etc.

            My dad has a job where he is licensed to carry a handgun, and he has a concealed carry permit. I forbid him from bringing his gun to my wedding, because my dad likes to talk about having a concealed carry permit. My dad will pantomime shooting someone in the head over imagined insults or slights. When I was growing up, my dad would talk about putting a bullet in the brain of, say, someone who cut him off in traffic.

            My father in law has bullseye targets around his house, and even has pictures of the time I totally whiffed the target he set up for me and put a hole in his shed (as well as a photo of the time I got closer to the bullseye than my husband, who had been trained in archery since childhood). If my dad started hanging his target practice sheets – especially silhouettes – up, I’d be incredibly worried. It wouldn’t be out of pride – it would be a threat.

            Now, I live in a state where gun hunting is common. Many of my students hunt with their dads (maybe moms, too). My husband and sister have both been target shooting, and I have a number of friends who are former military. I teach a population which is half rural farm families and half inner-city students. Both populations carry guns. It’s not hard to get a concealed carry permit here. It doesn’t bother me. While I won’t allow guns in my home, that has more to do with my own mental health background than anything else. But hanging a silhouette with bullet holes up would really chill me to the bone. Because I don’t know if I am dealing with a rational and safe marksman like my FIL, or someone like my dad.

        4. Student*

          Guns are tools designed specifically for killing people, as a way to wage war more effectively. Everyone should have a healthy respect that these are tools of war, not toys. It’s fine to make a hobby of them and enjoy it. It’s bad to lose perspective on how dangerous they are and try to minimize their deadly effectiveness – people who do that are irresponsible gun owners. Irresponsible gun owners lead to the type of gun accidents that bring stigma to a legitimate hobby, not the people scared of guns.

        5. ThatAspie*

          Strawman fallacy alert! Nobody said, “OMG icky scary guns!” They said, “It’s probably not a good idea to advertise your ability to shoot people in the face.” Very different.

      2. MillersSpring*

        I was thinking the opposite. The OP could tell HR which section of the office she was in, even if she doesn’t know whose cubicle it was. Let HR go down and scope it out. Maybe the people in that section are uncomfortable about the targets but have been leery about speaking out.

        It isn’t that the OP thinks removing the targets will make her safer, as you asserted. It’s that the targets are alarming and unprofessional. Guns are overwhelmingly associated with violence (along with personal defense and hunting), so it’s rude to accuse the OP of having an unreasonable paranoia.

      3. The OP*

        I live in a city in which gun violence is a huge problem, and in a country where mass shootings take place with insane frequency. It’s a little disingenuous to suggest that guns are as likely to kill a person as playing football, and that being concerned about the proliferation of guns is just paranoia.

        1. Artemesia*

          Exactly. We live in a country where toddlers kill people a couple of times a months and guns are used every day in domestic violence. And workplace shootings are disturbingly common. The fact that no one has complained is irrelevant; the whole point of displaying lethal force is to discourage anyone to stand up.

        2. turquoisecow*

          Completely agreed. Sure, martial arts or football are dangerous sports, but nobody is using either of those things with the express intention of killing multiple people in unrelated situations (like an office.)

      4. Morning Glory*

        I don’t understand the logic behind your argument – the OP is speaking from an appropriate-in-the-workplace context – so I don’t think it’s about feeling safe in the workplace, necessarily.

        Not sure what the danger of playing sports has to do with anything?

        1. Anna*

          Seriously. I work with guys who hunt/are gun enthusiasts/whatever who still know it would be wildly inappropriate to hang used targets at their desks.

      5. Jessie the First (or second)*

        The barometer of what is appropriate to have in the workplace is not limited to what will “make you safer,” however, so this seems like a straw man.

        1. Working Mom*

          I agree completely. The sheets hanging in the office do not make the office more or less safe or unsafe – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not appropriate to have them hanging up at work. Also, I say this as a firearm enthusiast who loves target practice. I get it, I’m proud of my own practice sheets – but I agree they are not appropriate to bring to work. (Unless maybe you work in a police dept?)

      6. Kyrielle*

        Enh. I’m not particularly scared of guns, and I assume I encounter a number of people carrying concealed on any given day. Hopefully legally, but not much I can do about that.

        OP was asking whether their reaction is over-the-top. So first they actually are aware they may be dialed a little more nervous than most people. :)

        But also, I do think the head target being posted makes it weird. Shooting at head targets? Nope. Not concerning. Boasting about it to your buddies you know are okay with it? Nope, not concerning.

        Posting one in your office? I’m still not worried about workplace violence, but I am a little worried about the knowledge of professional norms and comfort levels here. Because yeah, “look I’m good at shooting someone, in silhouette, in the head” – okay, not a terrible thing; just a thing. But advertising it? That’s a little different, *in the context of an environment where that skill isn’t relevant* and in the context that it’s a violent skill.

        It’s just…not necessary and not comfortable. Less ‘scary’ and more ‘well, that is a little out of place and thoughtless, and not very professional’. Not ‘fire this person now’ but ‘talk to this person about professional norms – especially if clients sometimes come here’.

        People who die in other sports are generally taking part in them, rather than spectators or people nowhere near the game at the time.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Posting one in your office? I’m still not worried about workplace violence, but I am a little worried about the knowledge of professional norms and comfort levels here. Because yeah, “look I’m good at shooting someone, in silhouette, in the head” – okay, not a terrible thing; just a thing. But advertising it? That’s a little different, *in the context of an environment where that skill isn’t relevant* and in the context that it’s a violent skill.

          Yes, this. It’s not “omigod Fergus owns a gun!!11!!11!” It’s “Fergus owns a gun and doesn’t realize it’s inappropriate to advertise shooting skills in the office.” I mean, one of the potential warning signs of workplace violence is someone who talks about guns a lot (not in and of itself, but in the context of other warning signs).

          1. Chickaletta*


            I’m not scared of guns. I’m scared of people who brag about their guns, glorify them, fantasize about killing, display a blatant disregard for the gun violence in this country (by using naive arguments like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and that sort of ilk), and/or show off their enjoyment or ability to shoot at pictures of people.

        2. Koko*

          Yeah! It’s sort of like submitting your yaoi slash fiction as a writing sample when you’re applying for a job. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that you wrote it, and maybe you have a strong online following and you’re proud of your writing skill. But it’s weird to put your “writing about sex” skills on display in a work context where you don’t need to write about sex.

          1. Thicket*

            Or for an even closer parallel – I’ve written some very dark, viscerally violent fic in my time in various fandoms, and some of it was very well received by the intended audiences. I’m proud of my skill as a writer. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give anyone I work for or hope to work for the scene where my viewpoint character tears out a companion’s throat with his teeth. That’s not something people need to know I’ve put thought into, except in the specific context of “has intentionally gone looking for darkfic and has read the warning tags I put on the post and chosen to engage with this subject matter.”

      7. Trout 'Waver*

        Comparing guns to peewee football is intellectually dishonest.

        Guns are made to kill people. Full stop. That is what they are for. They may have other sporting uses, but they were invented to kill people.

        1. Mary Dempster*

          Trout, I’m sorry, but that’s incorrect.

          “The firearm was invented in China during the 13th century CE for as a signaling and celebration device and remained so for hundreds of years”

          So. No.

          1. EmKay*

            I mean, good for the ancient chinese, but I think we can all agree that *today* the main purpose of a firearm is to point it at something living and make it dead. Or hugely incapacitated.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            Thanks for that, good fun fact. But I meant the guns in production today, not he concept of firearms. I should have been more clear.

          3. LOL*

            What you’re referring to as a “firearm” was in fact a small handheld cannon.

            Implying that that is the same as modern firearms (and I’ll remind you that Trout specifically stated “guns”) or their use is flat-out intellectually dishonest.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                I think you know what LOL meant, though. It feels like you’re nitpicking Trout’s statements instead of focusing on what they clearly meant.

                1. Zombii*

                  @Mary Dempster | You do understand the confusion though, right? Jokes are usually not presented as facts, and there’s no tone in text. Also, jokes are usually funny. :)

          4. Kay*

            Ok the historian in me couldn’t leave this. That is…a WILDLY over-simplistic reading of the history of firearms, both in terms of thinking of them as a linear progression (there were also proto-firearms in Europe at that time that were developing alongside the Chinese, intended solely as a weapon of war) and in terms of not understanding the cultural context of their evolution.

            Also: Wikipedia is not a valid source.

            1. Mary Dempster*

              That’s why I used it as a lighthearted joke in a comments section of a website and not a dissertation.

                1. Mary Dempster*

                  Boy, if everyone stopped joking because one person told them they weren’t funny. Lots of sticks in uncomfortable places today.

                2. animaniactoo*

                  Sometimes, a joking person has to realize the joke was only fun to them (or a small subset of people) and back up and say “Okay, whoops, my bad. Moving on.”

                  If this many people (many sticks) are saying “Uh, no.” then continuing to defend it as a joke is dismissing the feedback that you’re getting – that even as a joke, it’s not okay. So it’s less that they lack a sense of humor than that likely – you’re out of place, and you need to be the one to let go and allow them to be correct (probably) about this one. Go on and make a different joke at a different time. Nobody’s said you should never make another joke in your life.

      8. animaniactoo*

        FWIW, not hanging underwear in your office won’t make your office any safer, but it would be just about as inappropriate. The issue here isn’t safety, it’s about the potential message of the particular item(s) on display in an environment that is supposed to be conducive to getting along with your coworkers and getting work done.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Excellent analogy. Just because it isn’t an overt threat doesn’t make it appropriate.

      9. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I own three guns. I have no unreasonable paranoia of guns. However, I’m aware that many of my coworkers, clients, bosses, and so on are paranoid about guns, and have strong feelings about them for a variety of reasons. Given that, I find it inappropriate and unprofessional to display targets, just as with strong expressions of political and religious views or other potentially upsetting imagery.

        This is work. This is not an opportunity for us to express ourselves.

        1. MillersSpring*

          Agreed, but I think “paranoid” is an inappropriate term for this discussion. It’s too accusatory and frankly inaccurate toward the OP and others who are uncomfortable around guns.

      10. Jadelyn*

        You know, I really like guns. I lived with a boyfriend who was a certified NRA pistol instructor and who owned literally (seriously, literally) about two dozen firearms. He had one of those 6-foot-tall gun safes in the living room. They were a mix of hunting rifles, sniper rifles, a couple of assault rifles, and like 10 pistols, plus two shotguns. He taught me to shoot (safely!) and I had two guns in that safe that were “mine” – he owned them on paper but I chose them and we bought them for me to shoot – a Desert Eagle with .50 and .44mag swappable barrels, and an FN P90 bullpup rifle (which I got because it’s the gun they used on Stargate and I was a huge fan at the time lol). I enjoyed going shooting with him, both on the official range and out at unofficial “ranges” in the countryside (people would build up huge dirt backstops and set out tires and old TVs to shoot at. It was the south, it was just kind of A Thing among the friends we had.).

        I say all these because I don’t want you to brush me off by saying that I have “unreasonable paranoia of guns”.

        Because as much as I like guns and enjoy shooting as a sport and hobby, I would be APPALLED if someone hung up a target at work. Guns are a fun hobby! It’s a fun sport! It’s still not appropriate to show off at work!!!

        Whether you like it or not, whether you want to brush it off as “paranoia” or not, posting your targets at work carries an implicit threat message. While we may like to view guns as a hobby or sport, the fact remains that they are deadly weapons which were invented solely and entirely to allow humans to kill more efficiently and safely. When you post a target at work, you’re saying “Look at how good I am at using this instrument intended for killing!”

        I, who lived in a house with 20+ firearms laying around at any given time, who has owned two “fun guns” myself, who would love to go shooting more often, I would still find it threatening if someone hung their range targets up at work.

        This isn’t about paranoia, and to call it such is incredibly dismissive of the OP’s legitimate discomfort.

        1. FOH Manager*


          I actually compete in shooting competitions, and I still do not think this is remotely appropriate.

          I can see if they had an actual shooting trophy that that might be more acceptable, even though I still wouldn’t bring it to work, but targets? Nope. Targets in the shape of a human head? OH HELL NAW.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          Good point, Jadelyn,
          I’m an Army Soldier. I was active duty, I’m now Army Reserve. I’m proficient with both a pistol and a rifle, and don’t have an innate fear of guns for guns sake. Nevertheless, in my civilian job I would look very unfavorably on someone who hung up a shooting target in the office, even the bullseye.

      11. Wendy Darling*

        People who die doing martial arts, football, and other sports were voluntarily participating in those sports. We can argue about gangs, etc, but I would posit that many gunshot victims did not opt in to getting shot.

        Advertising that you can shoot people with reasonably high accuracy is probably not appropriate at work. Do I think the coworker is going to shoot anyone? No. But I don’t think it is appropriate to remind people that shooting people is a possibility in the office.

        I actually wouldn’t care if they brought in a trophy from some sort of shooting competition, because that doesn’t have the same connotation for me at all.

      12. Detective Amy Santiago*

        A friend’s partner committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. If she walked in to an office as a customer or a colleague and saw a silhouette of a head with bullet holes, it would be horribly traumatizing.

        It’s inappropriate in a work setting, full stop, unless you work in an industry that uses guns on a regular basis and even then, I don’t know that I’d find it appropriate. It has nothing to do with being scared of a person who can shoot.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Yes. And what about anyone who has been the victim of (or related to, or close to the victim of) gun violence? It would be pretty impossible for them to be professional or calm in that setting, even if the person hanging the target did not intend to hurt anyone.

          If it was a target on its own, I might be okay with it, but a target with a *human head* as a silhouette? I draw the line, and I think most people would. This person is not practicing to go deer hunting or whatever, they are evidently practicing shooting at *human* targets. If you don’t think that sends a message, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not because I’m disturbed the guy owns a gun and shoots it – I’m disturbed that he apparently wants to shoot *people*. He could easily shoot at a target without a person on it.

      13. BananaPants*

        I’m comfortable with guns (and a good shot), and I think that displaying a used, human silhouette range target in the office is in poor taste, unprofessional, and inappropriate for the workplace. I wouldn’t think the same about a trophy or certificate for winning a marksmanship competition, although overall I think it’s silly to display any award for a personal activity or hobby at work.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Here’s the difference between karate and a gun: karate doesn’t have a history of seriously harming and/or killing people in the workplace; guns do. (Plus karate isn’t designed to seriously harm and/or kill living organisms, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)

    You found it unsettling because it is unsettling given the multiple examples in recent history of violence in the workplace.

    1. OhNo*

      That’s a good way to put it, and if the OP does end up bringing this to HR (or whoever), it’s a good argument to have in your back pocket.

      The difference is context. We live in a world where guns are used to kill people pretty regularly, and where workplace gun violence is something that people are worried about. If we lived in a society where people frequently karate-chopped (yes, I know that’s not actually a thing) each other to death, and there were reports of workplace karate violence on the news every few weeks, then we might have a different perspective.

      But we don’t, so the OP is absolutely right about this display being inappropriate in a way that displaying other violent-seeming hobbies might not be.

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      Yeah, this is really the issue. Maybe this kind of thing would fly 30 years ago but in the culture we currently live in, it is amazingly tone deaf. At best.

      I have friends who have target sheets hanging on the walls at their homes. They’re some of the most responsible people I know and I don’t worry at all about them carrying guns when I’m around them. If one of them brought said target sheets to work and hung them up around the office, I would still find it concerning even though I know they’re responsible, non-violent gun owners because it’s just… not a thing you do in this day and age.

  4. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Even the best karate master ever can’t kill people from a distance, or dozens or hundreds of people, even 6 or 8 untrained people could probably overwhelm them.

    Not trying to bring it up as a political issue, it’s simply a statistical and physical fact that whatever your feelings are on the issues, guns are literally lethal more rapidly and from much more of a distance than even the most skilled fighter is using hand-to-hand combat.

    If I considered shooting a sport, I might have these somewhere in my office where only I could see them.

    1. Artemesia*

      ON the same day that a man killed 20 little children and 6 teachers at Sandy Hook, a nut job went into a school in China and injured over 25 students and teachers. He had a knife/sword — no one died.

  5. MegaMoose, Esq*

    My first reaction was to agree that this seems inappropriate, but I worked for a judge who kept a framed certificate in chambers about completing some gun training program (with a picture of himself and the trainer holding guns), and I know people who keep pictures of themselves with guns from hunting trips, so I’m not sure how to enunciate why this feels different and over the line. Maybe it’s not and it’s just me? To be fair, while I’m not comfortable with guns, I don’t know that it’s fair to draw a through-line from (reasonably) common hobbies like target shooting and hunting to conceal-carry, but I understand the uneasiness. In any case, I’m curious to know what other people think.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      I think your examples are different because although the hobbies are the same as in the letter, the focus is on the *person* rather than the, well, violence. It’s about the person and the hobby – the silhouette of a person’s head with a gunshot is just a violent image. Yes, it’s an image from the hobby (shooting at a firing range) but it’s still simply an inherently violent image. A certificate is not a violent image.

      1. Leatherwings*

        +1. There’s a difference between saying “hey, I completed a gun training program” (which I still don’t love but wouldn’t imagine is contentious enough to be an issue. I wouldn’t ever bring it up as an issue) and saying “hey, I shot this human-shaped paper that’s meant to symbolize an actual human”

        1. Grapey*

          Yeah I would be OK with someone’s award saying “Fergus got 99% accuracy at the range” but less comfortable with an actual sheet of stylized headshots. It would be like if I kept the dissected animal bodies I used for the research needed for my degree in jars on my desk instead of letting my biology degree framed on the wall speak for it. There are some things that a niche group will enjoy; the rest you have to keep sanitized for everyday folks.

          1. mrs__peel*

            Well said!

            I went to a college that has a famous 19th c. brain collection, which is out on display and seen by many people. But they’re college students and professors with an interest in science.

            If I kept a brain in a jar on my desk at my current job (as a healthcare attorney), I would get quite a few concerned comments…

            1. turquoisecow*

              My neurologist doesn’t even have a brain on his desk! I’m not sure if that would be creepier or cooler if he did.

        2. turquoisecow*

          Agreed. It’s not that he likes shooting, or is good at shooting, it’s that he’s apparently shooting at pretend humans – what’s to say he’s not going to shoot a real human? It’s what he’s been practicing for. I wouldn’t love a shot target, and would still feel weird about that in an office, but at least then I could think “okay, he’s a hunter.” But a human head?

      2. Collie*

        I tend to agree. As long as there are no dead animals in the images, I think the difference lies in where the focus is. I figure an analogy of kinetic energy here — in one instance (the pictures), there’s the potential for violence, in the other instance (human-shaped target), there’s the violence itself, if mimed in a sense. I’d personally be a tiny bit uncomfortable with the photos anyway, but I’m hypersensitive to guns and wouldn’t bother pursuing the photos. The targets (the human-shaped one for sure; the bulls-eye, I’m on the fence), I’d pursue if I felt safe doing so.

        (I again want to emphasize that I am a particularly sensitive human on this topic and I recognize that not everyone would be so alarmed by these images. It’s important to consider a spectrum here, though, which is why I’m offering my thoughts.)

        1. TL -*

          I’m not at all sensitive to guns – I don’t own any but most of my family members do and the sight of a gun doesn’t even phase me – and the human target is over the line for me, while the bullseye is right on the line.

          1. Collie*

            Sure! I didn’t mean to imply I’d be the only one to feel this way due to my more sensitive nature, just that I’d totally acknowledge my sensitive nature might influence my feelings here more-so than individuals who aren’t so sensitive. :)

            1. TL -*

              Oh, no! Just saying your POV is completely reasonable, personal feelings about guns aside. Human targets are way across the line.

          2. Recruit-o-Rama*

            I agree with this. The head target is WAY over the line and the bullseye is on the line and just weird. I think it would be weird to have a karate or a soccer trophy on display at work too though so it’s more of a “that’s weird” thing rather than a “that’s inappropriate” thing. I understand other people have different feelings about guns and it seems oddly adversarial to post a bullseye, even if it wouldn’t phase me. My 13year old has a bullseye paper from target practice hanging in his room, but he was using a BB gun and is just proud of his performance.

              1. Recruit-o-Rama*

                Yes, lol, that was my point, it’s not weird to be proud of these accomplishments, it’s weird to have them in display at work. Thanks for clarifying.

          3. justsomeone*

            Same for me, TL. I grew up around guns and hunters. I don’t participate, but I’m comfortable enough around them. That said, targets do not belong in the workplace, unless you work at a company gun-adjacent. Say for example that you worked at Cabela’s – I might find the targets a lot less worrisome there. But just at a random job that has nothing to do with the industry? Super weird and I would be really uncomfortable.

          4. OhNo*

            Same here. My family and a lot of my friends are gun people, so firearms of all sorts are pretty normal to me. I’ve even had a people show me targets they’re particularly proud of, and it was no big deal. But the idea of a human silhouette with bullet holes in it hanging up anywhere, really, but especially at work, is just… awful.

            In my view, that would be indicative of someone who is not only capable of dehumanizing people to the point that they are comfortable using their shape as a target for violence, but that they are proud of that fact. It would seriously impact my ability to work with that person professionally, for sure.

        2. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I’m pretty sensitive about guns too, but hunting is very popular in my state so I’ve learned to deal with the trophy pictures (even the dead animal pictures, which give me a touch of the willies). I think I agree that the human-shaped target does seem like the distinction here.

          1. Slick*

            I don’t think a photo of a hunter with a dead animal would be appropriate for work either. As someone below says, it’s the “This is the result of my gun” that makes it creepy.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              I am not at all a fan of the trophy animal pictures, but I’ve seen enough of them to concede the appropriateness issue to cultural consensus. I see it a lot with corporate lawyers and politicians, in particular.

              1. fposte*

                I would agree, and I think the “cultural consensus” point is an important notion. It’s easy to feel that something is universally acceptable or unacceptable just because you’ve never been outside of a cultural consensus eddy.

        3. Working Mom*

          I tend to agree that it’s inappropriate for the office. I am a firearm enthusiast and am very proud of my target practice sheets – I often hang them up in the garage. (Also serves as a nice warning to anyone who may enter my garage un-invited that I have excellent aim!) But it would never have occurred to me to bring those sheets into work. Not at all. I think content is important here too – if this were an office where everyone carries, it may not seem like big of a deal.

          In general though I agree, it’s not appropriate to bring those practice sheets to work. It just seems to weird to me. I get the individual is likely quite proud of the bulls eye (heck I would be), but hang them up in your garage or basement, or somewhere else. Not at work.

          1. Princess Carolyn*

            The “serves as a warning” comment really highlights why targets on display at work are so inappropriate. “Be careful or I might get violent!” is way too adversarial for an office.

            1. Working Mom*

              Yes! Man, I wish I could say I crafted my comment that way to specifically call out this perspective. :)

              1. OhNo*

                Either way, it definitely says “I HAVE VIOLENT POTENTIAL” in a very loud way.

                Most people do, I know. But just imagine if that was the first thing someone said (or yelled) at you when you met them. I’d be sprinting in the other direction the second the words were out of their mouth, not waiting for them to add, “But I only use it for self-defense!”

          2. Boop*

            I think you’ve hit on a part of what makes this so inappropriate though – if you use them in your garage as an implied warning, how could it be otherwise in someone’s office?

            My first thought was that depending on the person’s relationships with co-workers and when the practice sheets were put up, they could be a silent but unsubtle threat.

            Regardless of the intent, I think it’s clear that these are inappropriate in 99.9% of office settings. Plants, pictures of kids, a cat calendar, are all fine. Images of violence are not.

        4. mrs__peel*

          I wouldn’t necessarily say you’re “hypersensitive”, and (even if you were) I don’t think it really matters. A fair number of people in *any* given workplace will have a similar level of sensitivity to gun violence imagery, which is what makes it inappropriate and unprofessional to display.

      3. EddieSherbert*


        this is really well said – “the silhouette of a person’s head with a gunshot is just a violent image”

    2. Newby*

      To me there is a huge difference between a picture of someone holding a gun and a silhouette of a head that has been shot. Picture with a gun is a little weird, but I know a lot of hunters so I’m used to it. The target practice evidence is going a step too far and basically saying “I could kill you”. Which I know is not the intent (probably) but it’s still how I would feel.

      1. Kalamet*

        Yes, and I don’t think the “it’s just a hobby” excuse is that valid, because there are plenty of examples of hobbies that may not be appropriate for your office. I can put bobble-heads of video game characters on my desk, but I wouldn’t bring in a poster displaying violence or sexualized characters from those games. Sure, it’s my hobby, but I understand that the content isn’t work-appropriate.

        I’d classify the human head target as inappropriate, because it symbolizes violence towards a person. That’s a pretty clear no-go in most work settings.

        1. RVA Cat*

          My thoughts exactly.

          If your hobby is being, say, a medieval reenactor, that doesn’t mean you get to keep a battleaxe at your desk, whether or not it is actually sharp.

            1. RVA Cat*

              You’re welcome. I have some replica swords at home too. Many years ago I did have a dagger letter opener at the office, but it was obviously decorative (lady’s stiletto, like someone might use playing Juliet). Of course that was a small office and my boss had a *real* Civil War bayonet in his office – under glass and rusty AF, so not exactly a threat.

    3. paul*

      the silhouette target pushes it over the line for me. I wouldn’t think twice of a standard bulls eye, and some of my coworkers and I have had discussions about which pistol we like the most for concealed carry. Hell, three of us are debating splitting a bulk ammo order….

    4. animaniactoo*

      One is attesting the skill level or interest in the hobby without a direct tie to the “this is what the end result looks like”. Whereas the other feels more threatening as a *display* of the skill with the violence more visceral and implicit in it.

      If you go back to the Karate analogy – a trophy would be fine, an image of you in uniform would be fine, potentially even an image of you and an opponent faced off across a mat would be fine. A closeup image of somebody you’d beat into the ground showing their bruises would not be fine.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Yeah, this was a federal judge, too. Second-guessing was not in the cards. To be clear, this particular judge was a very nice man. Most judges I’ve met are perfectly nice people. I’m still not going to question their decor choices.

        1. Clewgarnet*

          I read that as ‘feral judge’, and briefly wondered how terrible their temper was for them to have got that reputation!

    5. Backroads*

      Eh… I see your point,
      I had a manager who was very much into shooting. She kept a certificate of training, some accomplishments, a few photos where she was holding guns. I think most reasonable people would have found it nonthreatening.

      But while the idea of a human profile bothers me, when I stop to think about it, I can’t find anything more threatening about a target practice sheet than any other gun sports-related item.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        My coworker has gun photos but they are clearly in a hunting context, so I have no problem with that – it’s the implied threat of the human head that really crosses the line for me.

      2. SamSam*

        It’s the difference between “I use guns to kill animals out in the wild” and “Look at how well I can shoot a human.” That’s the main point for me. I’m super sensitive about guns, but probably wouldn’t care about a bulls-eye in a cubicle (or at least just find it odd). The human profile is just over the line.

      3. Mirax*

        For me it’s not even necessarily the implied threat that frosts my cookies–it’s that gun violence is so common that I think it’s just flat-out tactless to post that kind of thing. I’d be asking the coworker to take it down because multiple people in my family have died due to gun violence, and I don’t need to be reminded of it when I’m trying to work.

    6. Biglaw partner*

      I have a picture of my dad with a shotgun in his lap on my desk and just scheduled a week of skeet shooting, and I would not think the targets – especially the silhouette target – were appropriate.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      I think it’s because the training certificate indicates that the judge takes gun safety seriously, whereas a target with bullet holes is a display of the violence of the weapon.

    8. BF50*

      I agree with all the other posters, but this is even less of an issue because a judge’s chambers are much more private than a half cubicle wall, and the criminal justice field is going to have a culture that is more gun friendly than more than most of corporate America.

    9. Jesmlet*

      It’s strange because viscerally I find all of this inappropriate but the head shot more so. But aren’t they both technically illustrating the same thing – that you can shoot what you’re aiming at? I just shudder a little bit more at the head shot maybe it’s just more literally alluding to violence. I wonder how the reaction would be if it was a picture of a bow and arrow bullseye, or a hatchet, or something equally violent but just not a gun? Ick either way. Hobbies are great but visuals really aren’t necessary in the workplace.

    10. k*

      Comparing the situation to a very benign hobby: Carol likes watercolors. She hangs a small painting in her office cool. She hangs a photo of her winning the local watercolor contest, still cool. She has a large easel at her desk, weird. I’m not afraid of Carol’s passion for watercolors, or think she’ll attack me with her easel. But why the heck does she need her easel at work? What is she accomplishing with this?

      I’m of the mind that expression of personal interests and hobbies at the office are fine, but should be on the subtle side. It’s work, not your home.

  6. Liane*

    Whee! first commenter. I am in Arkansas, which is a state where hunting is a big thing and I have never seen anyone display their target sheets at any size employer. Not saying it hasn’t happened.

    1. Temperance*

      I was going to comment to see this. I’m from northeastern PA, grew up in a hunting family, know many hunters, and I have literally never seen this.

      A framed photo with a prize buck, though …

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Ha! So I great up in southwest PA and now live in Arkansas.

        Been around hunting my whole life, seen more slain deer (among other game) than I care to admit and used to go to a Wild Game Feast each year. I have never ever ever experienced this – I actually don’t know that I’ve ever experienced this in the bar where the people showed off their chef skills with the wild game.

        I am pretty sure the human head profile would make me uncomfortable, despite my high level of exposure and comfort with guns.

  7. Employment Lawyer*

    One was a bull’s-eye, and the other was the silhouette of a human head.
    Those are not the same.

    They probably shouldn’t hang the head one. The bullseye is fine depending on your workplace standard.

    I am not a gun owner or shooter, but it sounds to me like you may be one of those people who is generally scared of guns or gun owners…? If you’re freaked out by a piece of paper that seems likely. If so, you shouldn’t let that affect your analysis here. We live in a country where people own and shoot guns, usually at targets, and your belief that people in your city don’t hunt (or shoot) is almost certainly incorrect.

    The person at the desk will be the same person, whether or not you permit them to be proud of their target skill (seriously, “head shot at 80 yards” is a bit silly.) The other people in your company who own and shoot guns–are they exist, whether or not you know it–will also be the same people they were. I’d let this one go.

    1. (Another) B*

      Gun culture is a thing and I think we should believe OP when she says its not a prevalent sport where she lives. It isn’t where I live either. Also why are you undermining her feelings? Guns are a polarizing topic, and gun memorabilia does not belong in the workplace, period.

      1. Roscoe*

        I think the point is that I think there should be a difference made between a bullseye and a silhouette. I’m in the middle of a city where “gun culture” isn’t a thing. But it doesn’t mean I don’t like target practice now and then

      2. SystemsLady*

        Exactly, the “gun paraphernalia” bit puts into words what I was having trouble saying. This is saying “I can shoot a gun and shoot it accurately” in a way that comes off to this person who lives in hunting land as oddly aggressive.

        If the person likes hunting then there are plenty of other options for personal display (pictures of what you hunt, pictures of self in hunting gear perhaps featuring something you successfully hunted [depends on culture as well I guess]) that I’m sure wouldn’t bother even somebody who isn’t a fan of guns.

        Even being a fan of guns can be expressed without doing things like this.

      3. Employment Lawyer*

        Gun culture is a thing
        and I think we should believe OP when she says its not a prevalent sport where she lives.
        I don’t agree. People who are that disturbed by a target are unlikely to be accurate reporters of a culture which they are trying to avoid. Not to mention that guns are really common in many places.

        Also why are you undermining her feelings? Guns are a polarizing topic…
        I’m not “undermining” them, merely disagreeing. I don’t really care about her feelings any more than any other person, including me and the person with the target on their desk. And her feelings aren’t a good guide for a rule.

        and gun memorabilia does not belong in the workplace, period
        I understand that is certainly one opinion. But it obviously isn’t an opinion I share; putting “period” at the end doesn’t make it so. If I say “people shouldn’t be offended by objects which relate to a common and constitutionally protected sporting activity, period” would you go along?

        1. The OP*

          I am very much aware of the culture of the region I have lived in for my entire life, thank you. I know people who own guns. There are a lot of guns in my city. I’m not saying that nobody in my city hunts, I provided that as context because I know there are some regions where hunting is really common and therefore it might just be part of the culture to openly display gun-related items. That is not the case where I live.

          1. PlainJane*

            FWIW, I live in a fairly rural area of Arizona–pretty much the bulls-eye of gun culture–and I’ve never seen used targets displayed in offices. And I work with both recreational and competitive target shooters. That’s only a single data point, but I’d be surprised if displaying used targets (especially ones with human silhouettes) in offices were a common thing in gun-friendly areas.

        2. MadGrad*

          Rules about sexual harassment and racially charged statements are put in place to preserve people’s feelings. Feelings that many people seem to share, at least here. Part of what makes the targets so offensive to me is that the person doesn’t care about potentially (and predictably) making people feel uncomfortable or threatened. You don’t have to agree with those feelings, but it’s childish at best to say that you don’t care about people’s sense of safety.

        3. Jesmlet*

          I feel like this is unnecessarily combative. I know it’s frustrating when people present things as facts when you think they’re opinions but the person who knows the most about this situation and the environment is always going to be OP, so it doesn’t make sense to project your experience with other people onto what OP is asking about here. The right thing to do is to accept their side of the story as accurate and give advice based on that. FWIW I would let this go too, not because I don’t think it’s appropriate for the workplace, but because if it makes someone in that department uncomfortable, they should be the ones to say it, not OP who will probably never see it again.

        4. Don'tDoIt*

          Yes, just as an aside since I noticed it in many comments today, can we stop with all the “Period.” “Full Stop.” “Making. A. Point.” ? It comes across as very crass and argumentative when it isn’t necessary.

        5. (Another) B*

          If it has the potential to make other people uncomfortable – as guns do – then yes, it doesn’t belong in the workplace. Period.

          1. fposte*

            No, only a semicolon, I’m afraid; plenty of things, even not work-necessary things, can make other people uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean that diabetes pumps or even lunches with meat need to stay out of the office.

            I get the impulse to find a broad rule here, but I don’t think there really is one that’s going to be as broadly useful as people would like.

            1. PlainJane*

              Good point. Speaking only for myself, my “broad rule” is to try to avoid bringing unnecessary stuff into the workplace that is likely* to offend people. My lunch is necessary**, as is an insulin pump for a diabetic. Part of it is self-interest. I work hard to cultivate a professional reputation and build strong relationships with colleagues, and I don’t want to do anything to undermine that. Part of it is also consideration for others’, yes, feelings. I don’t want to be the person who upsets someone unnecessarily, especially at work, where we’re often under stress and just trying to do our jobs so we can support ourselves.

              * You can argue that no matter what you do, someone will be offended by it, but I don’t see that as license to offend lots of people. It’s pretty easy to anticipate common hot buttons–politics, guns, religious proselytizing, etc.–and keep that stuff out of the office.
              ** You can argue that including meat in my lunch is not strictly necessary, but I think that in general, people’s diets are their business, and it would be unreasonable to try to cater to everyone else’s preferences when choosing my food.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I’m just arguing against the utility of any broad rule that sweeps this in with a lot of other things. I’m not all that worried about ideological purity–I just want a viable workplace.

    2. Mike C.*

      I don’t think it’s entirely fair to diminish the issue by saying. “freaked out by a piece of paper”. I’m pretty sure being served with an arrest warrant for felony charges by federal marshals would freak you out, even though it’s only “a piece of paper”. I certainly would.

      1. Electric Hedgehog*

        It’s kind of a false equivalency though. The targets are display only, but the warrant is proof of a actual action against you that you must respond to. Totally different.

        I see this as a case of someone being justifiably proud of their success in a personal hobby. They are displaying a physical manifestation of their skill (though I agree that the headshot is not super tasteful), and so what? If these were archery targets, would you care? Boxing trophies? Fishing competition trophies? Barbeque Champion trophies? All of these could be considered objectionable based on the personal beliefs of the viewer, but I don’t see any of them as being out of place in the workplace.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Archery targets of a human person? Yes. Boxing trophies or any of the other non-related hobbies you mentioned? Obviously not. Because they don’t imply violence the same way a shot-through stand-in of a human does.

          1. Jesmlet*

            What about a picture of a dead shark you caught in a tournament? Just trying to get at all sides of this (plus my dad has one but definitely not in his office at work). Implies violence (albeit not to a human), can easily offend someone, proud accomplishment in a hobby. Is that different? Legitimately curious here where the line is…

            1. Leatherwings*

              No, I also think that’s gross and inappropriate, although maybe not at the same level as implying violence against a human (and I’m sure people can and do disagree with that).

              I think the line is: “Don’t display shit that implies or displays violence against living things at work”

              And you can “what-if” that standard to death and I acknowledge that there are exceptions, but that standard is not GENERALLY out of line or overly burdensome.

              1. Jesmlet*

                Not disagreeing, I’m sure we could dissect a million difference scenarios by geographic region, company type, etc etc. Think your line is perfect but I also think some people wouldn’t necessarily agree, especially in coastal towns where sport fishing is a big deal or rural areas where hunting for meat or sport is commonplace.

              2. fposte*

                Yeah, I understand the “What about” tendency but I think people find it easy to get sucked into the slippery slope fallacy.

              3. Rat Racer*

                What I find amusing about this is that we also debate whether having stuffed animals, pictures of your kids, pictures of you at a bar drinking a beer, are appropriate for the workplace. I find it funny that while I was wringing my hands wondering if a picture of my spouse kissing my cheek on our wedding day was inappropriate, some other MOFO is out there is hanging up targets from gun practice.

        2. Temperance*

          Arguably, though, none of those other hobbies suggest violence against another person. The headshot does, and that’s why it’s different than those other examples. The bullseye just shows skill in shooting.

          1. Electric Hedgehog*

            Responding to both of you – yeah, the headshot is too graphic for the workplace, but OP apparently objects to the bulls-eye too!

            Temperance – what about boxing trophies? Honestly, I may find that more uncomfortable than a target…

            1. Anna*

              So what? They’re both a little weird, and one is definitely weirder than the other. There’s no reason to be surprised that someone finds any of it to be odd and probably not appropriate.

            2. Leatherwings*

              I mean, I think the bulls-eye is pretty bad in combination with the head-shot because it just amplifies the idea that this is violent. And OP specifically asked if she was being too sensitive about the bulls-eye and karate trophy, and tons of commenters here have spoken to it already , so I don’t think it’s fair to lampoon her for asking about it (the “apparently objects” language is what I’m referring to).

              It’s been asked and answered and the answer is: it varies on the target and the person but the argument for having it there isn’t very strong. I don’t really see anyone going to the mat to defend why the target is inappropriate too.

            3. BPT*

              I mean the sport of boxing is literally when two people consensually enter a ring to partake in the sport. Both are agreeing to be hit if necessary.

              I don’t know of anyone who has consented to someone shooting them in the head (other than suicide I guess, which does not belong in the workplace either).

              1. Leatherwings*

                Yeah, and if you had a beat up dummy or something in your office, that would be pretty odd an inappropriate. But there’s a clear difference between a trophy and human-shaped target practice paper.

            4. Temperance*

              I see the boxing trophies a bit differently – advertising skill in a sport. I would see it differently if the coworker brought in a beat up dummy or something like that. It’s just much more visceral to me.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I disagree—you have to shoot a gun at a silhouette for it to become riddled with bullet holes. The warrant analogy may be a little incongruous, but it’s reasonable for someone to be freaked out by a silhouette in the same way that it’s reasonable to be freaked out by a court order.

        4. EmKay*

          What if my hobby is pole-dancing? Is it okay to hang up pictures of me in action in my cubicle? Of course it isn’t, because it is inappropriate for the workplace.

        5. LOL*

          I have a picture of a man-shaped scarecrow target with an arrow sticking out of its head. I made that shot at 80 yards, and I’m stoked about that shot, because I use a low-poundage target bow and had to send the arrow off at a pretty steep angle to even get it to go 80 yards. It was a goofing-around, hail-mary shot that had no chance of actually hitting the target. Instead the arrow came smack down on top of the scarecrow’s head. Pure luck, not skill.

          It’s an awesome picture.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Right! I really see nothing wrong with the hobby, you just have to know professional norms and respect them.

      2. Subclassification*

        Or say a drawn picture of a nude woman posted on, however cartoon, would still be “just a sheet of paper” that would “freak out so” coworkers and be 100% not ok at the workplace.

    3. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “your belief that people in your city don’t hunt (or shoot) is almost certainly incorrect”

      She’s did not say that no one hunts or shoots. She is saying it isn’t a common part of the culture where she is. There is no reason not to trust her assessment of her own city’s culture; you are ascribing a belief to her that she has not expressed.

      1. SystemsLady*

        To counter what I think Employment Lawyer is presenting as a cultural insight – as somebody who lives and is from where hunting is part of the culture and has also lived in a big city, I know exactly what the OP meant.

        1. Anon Today*

          Agreed. This has come up in other discussions about guns — the bullet on the desk question, for example. I read it as the OP trying to avoid this kind of useless discussion. She doesn’t work at Cabella’s in rural Wyoming; hunting is not central to the culture of her city or workplace.

    4. Leatherwings*

      It’s not like OP is running away in fear from the person who hung the paper – it makes them (and a ton of us) uncomfortable because it symbolizes violence against a human. I think the language you’re using here is a little unfair.

      1. Employment Lawyer*

        A bullseye symbolizes being able to shoot accurately at a paper target. And I say this with some humor: if you’re one of the folks who likes to be concerned about gun owners, you should be overjoyed to see evidence that they can shoot accurately! ;)

        Moreover, I tend to err a bit on the “live with it” scale. In my profession it’s pretty apparent to me that overcautious overregulation has come back to bite a lot of folks in the ass. Other than being the only Constitutionally protected sport in the nation, most of the stuff which would allow you to exclude guns and keep what you like amounts to “because I say so,” and, well.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Funny, I tend to err on the side of “don’t display symbols for shot-up bodies at work” scale.

          I cannot believe you’re comparing that to “overregulation.” It’s patently silly, and the Constitution doesn’t protect this clearly inappropriate display at work.

          Nobody is taking guns away. Nobody is arguing about guns at work. They’re saying violent imagery that alludes to shooting people with guns does not belong at work. This is not hard.

        2. Morning Glory*

          Nobody that I have seen is advocating government intervention like an arrest on this, so what does the Constitution have to do with anything? Are you saying that because the Constitution protects freedom of speech, people should be allowed to say anything they want in the workplace, as well?

    5. ZVA*

      “Freaked out by a piece of paper” seems a bit, I don’t know, disingenuous to me. It’s not just a piece of paper; it has implications or associations that make the OP uncomfortable, and her coworkers, visitors, or clients might feel the same, as AAM pointed out. I know I’d feel unsettled if I saw that in my office. I live in a state with a huge gun culture—my employer literally gave one of my coworkers a gun as a gift at our annual Christmas party one year—and even I would think this was crossing a line.

      Maybe I’m reading too much into your comment, but you seem to imply that being “generally scared of guns” is unreasonable… I think fear of guns is perfectly reasonable, and something that absolutely should affect the OP’s (and her employer’s) analysis—especially because she’s far from the only person to feel this way.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes, the OP’s reactions are completely relevant, regardless of whether they are 100% logically supported by facts (which IMO shouldn’t be the measure of whether someone is allowed to have a particular emotional reaction anyway…). As Alison points out, othet coworkers, clients, customers, etc could have the same reaction, which could adversely affect the business. And the other option – take down the target sheets – has basically no negative impact on anyone. There’s no fundamental right to display hobby paraphernalia in your cube.

        1. ZVA*

          Exactly! Why wouldn’t the OP (or her employer, if she brought it up with them) factor feelings into their analysis? Guns scare some people. Whether that fear is “reasonable” or not (and I happen to think it is) is beside the point, especially given how common it is. The OP isn’t some kind of outlier here. And the last thing her employer wants is a client seeing that and feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, or whatever else. The risks of keeping it up far outweigh any benefits.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Freaked out by a piece of paper” seems a bit, I don’t know, disingenuous to me.

        It’s like finding out your boyfriend is married, and him asking why you’re “freaked out by a piece of paper.”

    6. mrs__peel*

      “If you’re freaked out by a piece of paper”

      No, she’s probably “freaked out” because workplace shootings happen extremely frequently in this country. That is just a fact, and (given that fact) it’s perfectly normal for many people to feel uncomfortable with what she described.

      1. Electric Hedgehog*

        Hobbyist shooter does not equal maniac who will likely shoot up the workplace at the first opportunity, and it’s not accurate or fair to make that link here. A huge, huge portion of the population of the US shoots for sport only.

        1. ZVA*

          Nobody is saying that hobbyist shooters = mass murderers, though! Not mrs__peel, and not the letter writer. Guns make some people feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and—especially given the amount of gun violence in this country—that’s a perfectly reasonable reaction to have.

          1. Electric Hedgehog*

            mrs_peel did imply a link, though. Uncomfortable, I can agree with – a head shot target is a bit graphic for me at work. Unsafe? Eh, I’m not going to agree with that.

            But to jump from paper targets to work place shooter is weird to me, and what I was responding to initially.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          Electric Hedgehog, keep in mind that we’re not talking about your average gun enthusiast. We’re talking about one who thinks it’s OK to hang up representations of people riddled with bullet holes at work.

          1. Leatherwings*

            Yes! This person has already demonstrated highly questionable judgement on what’s appropriate to display.

          2. Electric Hedgehog*

            I get what you’re saying and I still disagree. Pride in a hobby – even coupled with poor judgment when it comes to displaying competency in said hobby – does not equal deranged murder.

            Look, I get it when people are made uncomfortable by guns and people talking about their shooting or displaying their targets. However, I do think that you are inflating the threat of this person’s target display, and that there is no reason – that we know of here in the comment thread – for the OP to be scared for her personal safety. Heck, if she’s uncomfortable, it would serve both the OP and the target displayer well for her to wander by their desk and strike up a conversation, put a face with the targets displayed, and – if the displayer seems even sort of reasonable – asking if maybe they wouldn’t mind moving the targets to a less visible place or taking them down. But if she does that (and she doesn’t have to) it’s best to come at it with a mind set of genuinely wanting to understand the other person’s position and not from a standpoint based in fear.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Cut the hyperbole. Nobody is equating pride in a hobby with deranged murder. Also, framing it as pride in a hobby is disingenuous. His hobby is practicing using deadly weapons. And he’s putting his expertise on display at work. You can’t throw guns in the ‘just another hobby’ bin. Guns require safety training, discipline, and tact in use because of the deadly danger they pose to other people.

              Whether he’s intending to or not, he’s sending the message that 1) He owns deadly weapons and 2) He’s competent at using them. That comes off as threatening. Either he’s communicating that intentionally (which is troubling) or he’s too oblivious to know what he’s communicating (which is also troubling).

            2. mrs__peel*

              It’s not up to you to decide what “should” or “shouldn’t” make people feel unsafe. Individuals feel the way that they feel, based upon prior life experiences, etc.

              In any workplace, it’s very possible that some of your co-workers have experienced things like sexual assault, stalking, physical violence, mugging, suicide or homicide of loved ones, etc. Even people who haven’t experienced things like that can still feel legitimately afraid in this type of scenario.

              1. fposte*

                I might cavil with the “legitimate,” though–they can feel afraid, and while fear is a valid emotion it’s not necessarily related to any heightened risk or threat.

              2. Anon, has that fear thing*

                Yeah, having been assaulted previously, I have triggers that will lead to momentary fear or even terror. In general I’ll be able to shrug it off shortly thereafter (some days are worse than others) and I know full well that in most situations like that, nobody means to scare me and I’ll generally give them the benefit of the doubt, but I believe I’m fully within my rights to ask that person to either not do whatever it was ever again (seriously, nothing I can think of that I would need to ask someone for would put that much of a barrier against them functioning) or to ask for backup from above if they’ve managed to worry me enough that I don’t feel comfortable discussing it with them directly.

                In an ideal world, we’d all address these things directly one on one and try to see the other person’s perspective. But we live in the real world, where sometimes, due to past experiences, we just don’t have that ability and need someone to do it for us or to provide us backup when we address it with the offending person, and trying to see it from another’s perspective just isn’t that useful, because our fear is not going to go away just because we say “Oh, well, they didn’t *mean* to” – I know they didn’t mean to (in most cases). That doesn’t change the fact that my body is going to react with fear.

            3. ZVA*

              As far as I can see, no one is suggesting that the coworker is a “threat.” The OP didn’t say she’s afraid for her safety, or that she thinks her coworker is going to shoot up the place. I don’t think any commenters have, either! It’s about whether or not the target sheets are appropriate for the workplace, and people’s discomfort with guns factors into that.

        3. mrs__peel*

          In regard to the OP’s questions, it *really* doesn’t matter what percentage of gun enthusiasts end up shooting up their offices, and I’m not interested in engaging in a debate about that. The point is appropriateness for the workplace.

          It’s entirely predictable (and VERY reasonable) that a number of co-workers, clients, et al., will have a visceral reaction to this type of graphic symbol of gun violence in a workplace environment, due to the kind of incidents that they see in the news on a frequent basis. (My workplace, for instance, now has annual active shooter drills). It’s just common sense not to display things of that nature.

      2. The OP*

        To clarify, I am not afraid that whoever this person is will flip out one day and shoot everybody. I am uncomfortable with firearms in the office, and while I understand that concealed carry is legal where I live and there may be multiple people who carry in the office, the “concealed” part means that I don’t have to know about it. Once again, I am not interested in debating guns in the workplace, but it is not something I am personally comfortable with for a number of reasons.

    7. logicbutton*

      Yes, that person would still be a hunter or shooter even if they weren’t allowed to hang up targets at work. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. Most people have looked at porn, but that doesn’t make it appropriate to hang up pornographic images at work.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        This is a great analogy. Porn is fun and most people are ok knowing their coworkers probably enjoy it on occasion. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to put “amateur porn production” as a special skill on your resume or to hang up a pornographic poster. Because it’s not work appropriate.

        My username is fairly ironic for this particular post.

    8. MadGrad*

      You’re being very dismissive here. It’s not weird or uncommon to be “one of those people” who get uncomfortable when around deadly weapons or people who are particularly attached to them, and I can’t imagine why you’re arbitrarily telling her her feelings aren’t important. Feelings matter, as they affect interactions. Personally, I find those pieces of paper to be a double-whammy of “look how accurately I can shoot a deadly weapon (maybe at people!)” and a sign of poor judgement where the person prioritized their hobby and appreciation for guns over the comfort of people around them. I judge this person to be an uncomfortable jerk, and would take a very long time warming up to them if we met. Thinking logically does not mean “removing all feelings to give the other person the best interpretation at all times”.

      1. ZVA*

        You make a really good point about the person’s judgment. It’s not just that they put the targets up—it’s that they either didn’t think through how that might make coworkers/clients/etc. feel, or they did think it through and didn’t care.

    9. Kittymommy*

      I think it’s weird and inappropriate, and I say that as a shirt, someone who does go target shooting, owns guns and has a concealed carry. Of course I do think that it’s weird to put trophies up in your cubicle regardless. Work is work.

      However, I wonder about bringing it up. Maybe no one who works over there had a problem with it, maybe they don’t care ore even really noticed. Regardless, I wonder if it’s really the OP time to bring it up if she’s never over in that office as it sounds like this meeting was just a one off.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        If anyone can see the silhouettes, then I think it’s fine for OP to raise the issue (although I think it would be fair for OP to raise it regardless). There are probably other people who find this uncomfortable but who don’t feel capable or confident about complaining. If guns make you leery, complaining to or about someone who has/uses guns can be especially difficult.

    10. Sfigato*

      The difference to me is that this person is choosing to make a statement at their place of work that they are good at shooting guns and have great aim. It’s not relevant to the workplace, and it could definitely be construed as threatening and implying violence. Why is it important to this person to let their colleagues know they are an excellent shot?

      There is a big part of gun culture that is about the threat of violence – open carrying to let people know that you could shoot them if they tried anything, letting that threat of violence make you feel safer, being armed so that you could use violence to protect yourself. Which I’m not saying is good or bad, but it’s true, and that threat of violence doesn’t belong in an office unless you work for the military or law enforcement.

  8. Lab Grunt*

    I agree with Alison. One of my coworkers has her target silhouette hung up in her office (you can get a certain gun-related certification through our work during an outside of hours class) and I must admit that I thought it was a bit inappropriate when I first saw it. Not enough for me to say anything but I did an internal eye roll. I myself own large quantities of guns for various reasons, but Alison is spot-on about why it’s inappropriate.

    1. Tuckerman*

      I was thinking, this would be appropriate in only a very limited number of workplaces. I’m thinking, sporting goods or hunting supply stores.
      I may include your workplace in that group because the gun-related certification was offered through your work, but it just seems unnecessary. Just post it on Facebook like a normal person :-)

      1. RipRiley*

        Yes, I was thinking of some folks I know who work at a gun shop/range or a similar type business…would not be out of place there at all. The only way I could see this being a thing at places I worked at (the lax places) was if the group went out together and then they all came back and hung them up. Otherwise I would agree, just post it on Facebook.

      2. Cathy*

        I work in a quasi law enforcement agency with multiple agents who carry weapons. It is absolutely common practice for there to be targets on display in our cubicles. I am not one of the agents, but I am working on getting my carry permit so I absolutely brought in my targets to show off. I am confident this is one of the few workplaces this would be okay!

    2. paul*

      Agreed. I wouldn’t hang a bullseye but it wouldn’t bother me if other people did. The silhouette ones though? That’s just pushing pretty far; it’s like “YES, I know where to shoot you and I can damn well do it!” Hell, I use silhouette targets, particularly when trying to get my split times down. But just don’t hang them at work.

      I’ve got enough guns and ammo that my safes would cause a lockdown in some states and that still just seems, at best, very gauche.

      1. fposte*

        And it’s a big corporation, so there are certainly workers there who’ve been the victim of gun violence either directly or indirectly; while that doesn’t automatically mean they’d have a problem with this, I suspect it would be an issue for some. (Obviously this wasn’t on display where everybody would see it, but if I were HR I’d factor that in to my handling.)

  9. Anon...but just today!*

    Interesting… my husband spent a week this summer volunteering at the scout camp our kids attended. One of the activities they did was shooting with BB guns. My husband was inordinately proud of his target as he was the only one who got a bull’s-eye and he took his target to work and hung it up, along with a few photos of him at the camp. I don’t know if other targets are different, but the type my husband (and both kids) used were very colorful after being shot at (the black paper turned bright pink, green or orange depending on where it was hit). If a co-worker to come in with this type of target and hang it with photos or mementos from the day (hubby also hung a craft project next to his target) I would probably not even bat an eye, but anything that featured a human figure would skeeve me out.

    1. Anna*

      I think that’s borderline, but leaning toward not the same and I think it’s because there are big colorful splotches on it. Were there holes, too?

  10. Mimolette*

    Gross. I’ll also add that, in my state, this isn’t even legal. If it’s inappropriate to practice shooting on human figures in the entire state on NJ, it’s definitely inappropriate in the office.

    1. paul*

      I’m not finding any law to the effect for NJ? I know a lot of ranges discourage/ban silhouettes during regular hours but that isn’t the same as something being illegal

    2. LavaLamp*

      I’m sorry; shooting at the standard ‘human torso’ target is illegal in New Jersey? That’s kind of weird because how would people like officers and such practice for what could happen in their daily job? the sort of target I’m taking about is just a silhouette of a persons head and torso. It’s not detailed in any way; it’s just for self defense practice. I’m legitimately confused by your statement Mimolette. I’m in Colorado, and I have never heard of this before.

    3. North Dakota Jones*

      My understanding is that it was only targets made to represent a particular person or that were recognizable as a particular person. Shooting at a generic robber, zombie, or outline is okay; shooting at politician or your ex is not. It has been some time since I’ve lived in New Jersey, though.

  11. caryatis*

    I think OP is a bit off in assuming that a person who enjoys firearms is likely to bring one to work. I mean, you wouldn’t assume that a person who likes cats is likely to bring her cat to the office; reasonable people understand that most personal hobbies and interests stay at home. OP, make sure you’re not assuming that a gun owner is necessarily a violent or angry or criminal person. But I agree that the person ought to take down the target sheets, as people (rightly or wrongly) get nervous about guns.

    1. Newby*

      I don’t think that it is necessarily that far off. Someone who is very into guns is more likely to carry a gun with them. Carrying a gun actually does not make them violent or angry or criminal (assuming they have a conceal carry permit and aren’t going anywhere guns are banned). I have friends who carry often and in unexpected places. Personally, I think some of the places that they conceal carry are inappropriate, but none are illegal (they are very aware of the gun laws).

    2. mrs__peel*

      I don’t think it’s a wild presumption, by any means, if you live in a state that permits it.

      People don’t routinely bring cats to work (and, as far as I know, there are no concealed carry permits for cats), but people do bring guns to work fairly often in places where that’s allowed.

      1. anonderella*

        “concealed carry permits for cats”

        commenting just because I like this phrase.
        and I may SharkTank the idea.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            And God help the poor bastard who attempts to carry one in his boot.

        1. mrs__peel*

          I haven’t done a Google search yet for “cat holster”, but I bet there’s one out there somewhere…

          1. Liz*

            I just did that search (for science!) but what I found was a cat harness that looks a bit like a gun holster.

            Which, frankly, raises all kinds of terrifying images and makes me glad, again, that my cat doesn’t have opposable thumbs.

    3. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I agree. My dad’s a big hunter and enjoys target shooting and he would never consider bringing a gun to work.

    4. Leatherwings*

      I agree that that’s a pretty big leap to make, but it’s so much scarier than the idea of bringing a cat to work that I can understand how even the fleeting thought of it would be freaky.

    5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This is a false analogy that cuts “gun things in workplace” out of its context of “gun violence in workplaces,” which is a real thing that exists. Let’s not pretend that cats and guns have the same lack of baggage just to make a point.

    6. Gandalf the Nude*

      I think that’s a misreading of what OP wrote. She said “might,” for one, not “likely.” Anyone who owns a gun might bring it to work just by simple virtue of having a gun to bring to work (or anywhere). And I’d wager her concern is less about the person enjoying firearms and more about it being such a part of their identity that they felt the need to broadcast it to the office. And quietly bringing a gun to work is a lot easier than quietly bringing your cat to work.

    7. Julia*

      The difference is, even if the co-worker does end up bringing their cat to work, the worst that could happen would be allergies or scratches. With a gun…

    8. fposte*

      I don’t think that analogy works, though–there is currently no concealed cat carry right, nor are buildings required to announce if you’re forbidden to bring a cat in.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        And it’s cute when a toddler finds a cat in the closet and plays with it.

        1. Nea*

          I am suddenly reminded of a story from a different blog, where that OP found her toddler lecturing the cat that it was OK to be upset and it was OK to hiss, but it was not OK to scratch.

          This went about as sideways as you’d expect a toddler lecturing an angry, cornered cat to go, but the sequel is even more adorable. The next time the toddler didn’t want to do what OP wanted her to do, she apparently shouted “Hiss! Growl! I am an angry cat! I don’t have to listen to you!”

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            As a toddler-wrangler myself, this story makes me laugh hysterically. It’s exactly what a toddler would do and exactly how toddlers think.

    9. Allison*

      A gun is probably way easier to bring to the office than a cat. Think of where you would put a gun, now imagine trying to put a cat in there.

      1. Emi.*

        Now I’m picturing Mad-Eye Moody shouting “Don’t put your cat in your back pocket! Better cat ladies than you have lost buttocks that way!”

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        If you want 20 minutes of entertainment, google “Ferret-legging.”

        1. Nea*

          I’ve had ferrets and I’ve had kittens. The only difference appears to be whether they are inside or outside your jeans when they climb you with pointy sharp claws.

    10. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I don’t think the OP is a bit off at all. People are not neutral on the topic of owning and carrying firearms, and it’s fair to assume *some* gun owners will bring their firearm into the office, regardless of employer policy.

      A recent example: I was at a local shop (franchised business) and the store manager was talking to someone on his personal cell phone. He was quite irritated that the franchise owner had the gall to tell him not to wear his sidearm at work, as it’s her and the corporation’s policy. My state does allow concealed carry with proper licensing, but business owners can ban them onsite. The manager was still wearing his firearm – I could see it! – and told his friend the business owner had no right to override HIS right to carry. I’m editing out the blue language, but you get the idea. He was TORQUED.

      Maybe this is a recent, personal example, but it’s not the only time I’ve seen this in my/someone else’s workplace. I think most gun owners try to be responsible, but I’m not naive enough to think people will abide by the letter and intention of state law and company policy. Also, you don’t have to be a violent, angry, or criminal person to scare the what’s-it out of people with a gun. Again, people are not neutral on this topic!

      1. No, please*

        My ex has a permit and carries. He is a small business owner and always has his gun at work. I’ve been told by a witness that he was in a heated exchange with an unarmed young woman (not in his place of business) and he reached for his holster because she got loud. This is the kind of guy that scares people and probably should not carry. I understand the OP feeling uncomfortable. I bet my ex scared the shit out of that woman and everyone else. Since hearing this from a witness I trust, I’ve done a lot of deep thinking about guns at work and concealed weapons. I don’t like the targets and can certainly get behind a company saying an employee can’t carry at work. I’m not anti-gun, but I am not convinced most people need to conceal and carry just because they like it.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Holy bleep. If I was in the same room as this exchange I would freak the bleep out and possibly hit the deck. I don’t know anything about the guy, but if he reaches for his gun in a verbal argument? He’s likely to shoot before knowing if it’s a good idea to shoot.

      2. Mary Dempster*

        “and it’s fair to assume *some* gun owners will bring their firearm into the office, regardless of employer policy.”

        I disagree entirely, as 100% of the gun owners I know are much bigger sticklers for the rules than people who are not firearm owners.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s fair to assume that some people in any category will do what they want despite the rules, though. Gun owners aren’t excepted from general human frailties, and it’s easy to find examples on the regular of them breaking plenty of rules.

        2. HRChick*

          Yeah, sorry, but gun owners break the rules all the time, too. They’re humans as well. And, yes, I have personally witnessed this – at a school

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘I disagree entirely, as 100% of the gun owners I know are much bigger sticklers for the rules than people who are not firearm owners.’

          But you don’t know 100% of the gun owners in the US, legal or otherwise. The gun owners I know are respectful of the law and of the firearm(s) they own, too, so I understand where you’re coming from. Still, I think it’s fair and accurate to say that, based on my experience from just last week, and that of others on this thread, there are SOME gun owners who aren’t so respectful.

  12. Swords and Bows*

    How would the situation differ if the office owner had their fencing foil hung in the office or an archery target? I come form a world of very low gun use so I am genuinely interested in opinions.

    1. Just a guy*

      Id say that they are inappropriate too, as a Fencer!

      On top of that, the two are very different messages.
      Foils are blunted, or in most competitive cases, fitted with button tips. Epees and sabres, again, blunted.

      You could put someone’s eye out with one, but you’d need to be trying and extraordinarily lucky, against someone completely surprised, and no more than a couple of foot away.

      Archery targets, I’d have the same issues with gun targets, but it has the advantage of not being exactly easy to conceal a bow on your personal.

      Evidence that you’ve practiced shooting people in the head, accurately?

      Yeah, that’s horrifying in any situation other than possibly front line infantry (and even then you’d probably be subject to psychological examination)

      1. Turkletina*

        Also a fencer (Hi!). There’s no real comparison to anything gun-related here. Under normal circumstances, you can’t do much more than give someone a bad bruise with a foil. And while the sport derives from sword fighting, there’s no historical precedent for workplace violence committed with a fencing foil. To put it even more strongly, when you hit someone with a foil (or epee, or sabre), they’re a consenting participant in the sport — as far as I know, no one goes around trying to intimidate or harm others with their fencing weapons. And when you do fencing target work, you’re most likely hitting a padded circle on the wall that doesn’t bear any resemblance to an actual human.

        1. Nonprofit Nancy*

          A better comparison might be a human manikin with a sword stuck through it. Now it’s threatening.

            1. NaoNao*

              Actually they are both in common and acceptable use. Manikin usually refers to a jointed lifelike figure for use in drawing or a exceptionally small person, like what we would call “a little person”, but it’s not a mis-spelling or mis-use.

              From Webster’s:

              : a model of the human body commonly in detachable pieces for exhibiting the parts and organs, their position, and relations

      1. Temperance*

        I think the trophy is a bit different than the target. The trophy shows that you are good at shooting; the target of a human head suggests that you would be able to kill someone if need be. (Just to be clear, I’m not debating the merits of that skill, just trying to show the other side.)

        1. Emi.*

          I agree that the targets are inappropriate here, but doesn’t a trophy also suggest that you would be able to kill someone if need be? To me the difference lies more in the fact that the target is a violent image, like people were saying in an earlier thread.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s an extra step, maybe two extra steps.

            Look at trophy: “Huh, that person has a trophy. *looks closer* Looks like the trophy is about shooting. That person must shoot well. I bet they could shoot a person in the head.”

            Look at head target: “That person can shoot a person in the head.”

            And yeah, I think the violent image provides the “short circuit.”

              1. Kelly L.*

                I’ve seen trophies in offices and not even known what they’re for. If the statue is abstract (like, not obviously a person playing baseball or whatever), and if it’s up on a shelf, I’m probably never going to climb up there and read it either, so I’m just like “Yay, Co-worker is good at a thing!”

      2. JustaTech*

        Is there a difference between telling someone that you’re good at something (with a trophy) and *showing* someone you’re good at something (demonstrating a roundhouse kick)? I don’t know.

      3. SystemsLady*

        I think that’d be just fine.

        Kind of like how a bunch of karate trophies and pictures are fine, but several pictures of the person kicking a human-shaped dummy in the face would probably be inappropriate.

        1. Amy The Rev*

          SystemsLady, I think that’s an excellent analogy. The hobby isn’t really the issue, it’s the implied (or shown) violence.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            But that’s not the issue here. The issue is that there’s a human silhouette. We can go down the path of “what about all these non-human things that demonstrate destructive force?” but I don’t think it would be helpful to the OP.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                OP was, and I think the bull’s-eye is inappropriate although closer to the line of inappropriate/ok. I don’t think there’s any analogue between punching a bean bag (unlikely to kill someone) and shooting a target.

                1. fposte*

                  I suspect that if it were only the bullseye OP wouldn’t have considered it letter-worthily disturbing.

                2. The OP*

                  I was bothered by both but honestly I probably wouldn’t have noticed the bull’s-eye if it weren’t for the head.

          2. Amy The Rev*

            I’d see that as more akin to the generic bullseye or trophy, personally. It doesn’t bother me- might think it’s a little odd, but it wouldn’t make me uncomfortable.

      4. Margaret*

        I have a coworker who has a bunch of medals hanging in his office for shooting competitions. It’s never even crossed my mind that that’d be inappropriate. (But, granted, I don’t think I’d take issue with the targets being up per the original post, either.)

        I think the city versus rural might make a difference – I grew up in a rural area so my immediate connotation with guns is hunting, not violence against humans. And I don’t like hunting but I know it’s generally accepted so I wouldn’t express issue with discussion or demonstration of a hunting hobby.

    2. HW*

      Per your specific examples I’d think it was pretty weird as much as someone keeping a target in their office but I think keeping those sort of indications of interests or hobbies in one’s professional office are kind of weird anyways. I understand pictures of people doing something they enjoy in their office (picture of someone at a gun range, picture of someone at a fencing tournament) but I don’t understand keeping actual mementos of hobbies either your examples or trophies or anything like that in a professional office it always seemed to me more something you’d keep at home. But, in other people’s defense, I’m one of those very anti-clutter people so I only keep two photos pinned to a cork board and a decorative wall calendar in my own office.

    3. JustaTech*

      Given that a fencing foil isn’t sharp or pointy, I’d be more OK with that, but I would also understand if I was asked to not keep that on the wall because it is a sword (and I once took a bundle of foils on the subway in a major US city during rush hour with nary a complaint).

      For me, and this is a personal reaction, the difference between a bow, a sword, or even a rifle is that they are *big*. If someone is carrying around a compound bow, or a broadsword, or an AR-15 you will know because there isn’t any way to hide something that big.

      But a paper shooting target doesn’t have any way to tell the casual viewer what kind of gun was used (BB, hand gun, rifle) or from what distance (10 feet? 10 yards? 100 yards?) so I can see how someone viewing the target might fill in those blanks with something frightening, even if it was actually just a BB gun at 5 feet.
      (I’ve gone range shooting several times and enjoyed it, but I never pick people-targets because I find that weird.)

    4. TL -*

      The weapon in the office would be inappropriate, always – saber, bow, gun, katana, or foil. In some work places, I could see a non-functional antique being acceptable but that’s about it.

      The archery target would be the same – a bullseye would be right on the line, a human shaped target would be inappropriate.

    5. Manders*

      I admit that something I’m getting tripped up on here is what I personally would find cool and interesting–I’d want to start a conversation with a coworker who was practicing a martial art and had some item from that in the office, but I don’t feel like I’d ask someone about the silhouette target as a conversation starter. I think that’s part of the trophy vs. target issue–the first says “this is a hobby that’s a major part of my life, feel free to ask me about it,” and the second doesn’t convey that.

      I also think some martial arts items could cross the line, like a piece of clothing with blood on it. I really am having a hard time drawing the line here.

      1. LavaLamp*

        That’s me too Manders. Somebody has an interesting hobby I’m going to ask about it. My work is awesome at being friendly about people’s hobbies and interests.

        I was thinking about this over my lunch break actually. I love old fashioned photography and was able to get pictures done of myself last year. I’d never bring them to work though because it’s inappropriate to have a picture of yourself pointing a gun at the camera no matter how cool it looks.

        (I still feel like an ass for pointing a gun at the photographer because it was real just disabled to be a prop. That’s a thing you just don’t do. )

  13. Mike C.*

    I think this is a tough issue.

    I don’t find the bulls-eye to be as problematic as the silhouette – precision shooting as a sport has an established history. If we were talking about archery (which lacks much of the baggage shooting does) I would still find the bulls-eye fine in comparison.

    But if we look at the issue of martial arts, what if we were talking about kendo or fencing instead of karate? Those sports certainly feature weapons (specialized swords, specifically) but aren’t widely considered violent in the same way that shooting is.

    In the end, I think we have to deal with the fact that these sorts of issues aren’t clear-cut and having some empathy for others is likely to go farther than trying to make hard and fast rules to philosophical issues.

    1. fposte*

      This is really well said, Mike. I don’t think you can make a hard and fast, one size fits all rule, but it’s worth thinking about what we could do and not just what is our right to do.

    2. Manders*

      I’m struggling with figuring out exactly where the line is too–I used to do kendo, and I’ve even mentioned it in job interviews when I was asked about my hobbies. I also have an iconic picture of Princess Leia holding a blaster as my computer background right now, and I was planning on decorating my desk with some Star Wars figurines of characters holding lightsabers.

      I still feel like the silhouette is over the line, but I’m having a hard time articulating *why* it’s over the line. Maybe it’s because gun ownership and use is such a thorny political issue? Because it suggests a dead body? Because most people associate martial arts with a formalized ritual and discipline? Because it isn’t recognizable as a piece of pop culture that’s kid friendly?

      1. TL -*

        Because it’s symbolic of practised, real world violence against humans.
        I imagine you wouldn’t put up a still from a violent scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie in your office, even though lightsaber figurines are fine.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Exactly. You may have Princess Leia, a fictional character with a fictional weapon, but would you hang up a photo of the scene in Kill Bill where The Bride massacres the yakuza? I hope the answer is no, because the latter would be deeply inappropriate.

          1. Sorin*

            But I have seen Pulp Fiction posters with Vicent and Jules pointing their guns not quite at the viewer but sort of off to the left.

            1. fposte*

              And that would fall into the “fictional characters” category rather than the “massacre” category, I’d say.

              1. turquoisecow*

                Yeah, the fictional character holding a weapon is not as inappropriate because
                a) they’re fictional. No real people were or will be harmed in the making of the film/book/tv show/whatever and
                b) the implication of violence is less outright, and more subtle. Yes, Vince and Jules, or Princess Leia, or Luke Skywalker killed people in their movies, but the poster or the figurine is not showing the actual murder. It’s not showing a dead body like Vince covered in blood or one of their many victims, and it’s not showing the protagonist covered in the blood of his/her victims.

                If someone had a photograph of themselves holding a gun on their desk, I’d think it was weird, but not inappropriate. The issue is not only that it’s a *human* silhouette, but also that it’s showing the result of violence. That takes it out of the fictional category AND away from the implication of violence and into actual violence. A photo implies the person is capable of violence. The target with a human silhouette implies they’ve actually done violence (in this case against a silhouette), the next step could logically be to assume that they might do violence again, and in this case possibly against an actual human.

                Whether the person intended these implications is irrelevant.

      2. LavaLamp*

        This; I think it can have quite a bit to do with office culture as well. For example, I have a poster of how to survive zombies. Some people might not enjoy it but within my office culture it’s okay.

      3. fposte*

        I think the line may just not be a useful idea for something like this–it’s more like a collection of shifting moral blobs that change color depending on how you’re looking at it.

        The thing the silhouette target makes me most think of is the letter to AAM from somebody whose co-worker had a really graphic violent tattoo. She wasn’t afraid of the woman or anything; she just found it really hard to focus on work when there was a graphic depiction of violence in front of her. If you’re used to shooting at silhouettes at target ranges, they may be essentially dead metaphors to you, but generally images of people, even streamlined people, with bullet holes in them would be visual depictions of violence. I’d be comfortable asking an employee not to hang that in her cubicle on that basis–but then I wouldn’t want to police horror-tastic Halloween flyers, so those moral blobs just won’t stay fixed.

    3. Vin Packer*

      Yes to this.

      It made me think about how I would feel if somebody mounted an animal head in their cubicle. My instinct is that such a decoration wouldn’t be appropriate for a very corporate office either–it wouldn’t be a moral outrage, just kind of weird. The picture of a human head with bullet holes in it is at least as weird as that, perhaps weirder.

  14. Hank*

    Yes, we absolutely must do everything in our power to assure that no one EVER feels uncomfortable about ANYTHING at the workplace, and if they do, the offender (especially if unaware of the emotions of the others) should be summarily FIRED. I mean, this is what the ultimate workplace environment should be, right? that no one ever gets assaulted by even the PRETENSE of a negative feeling, and has absolute protections from co-workers’ and clients’ feelings and opinions. Because it’s all about what matters to THEM and their FEELINGS, not minding your own business and actually doing your JOB, for which you are getting paid to do.

    Unless of course, you are uncomfortable about any other behaviors that the social justice warriors have determined to be commonplace if not expected, then you just need to suck it up.

    1. Temperance*

      I genuinely don’t understand your perspective here, especially because this comment is amazingly aggressive. The LW isn’t suggesting that her coworker be fired, or that these targets are “assault”.

      Then again, by your use of “social justice warriors”, I have a hunch that you’re not here to discuss workplace issues.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        In general, if your characterization of the other person’s point has to be exaggerated to the most ridiculous conceivable extreme to support your point, maybe you don’t have a point.

        1. Brogrammer*

          You are on fire this week! The pithy bon mots just keep coming! Thanks for making my week a little more interesting.

      2. Princess Carolyn*

        Yeah, I actually noticed as I was reading the original letter that LW was quite conscious of other possible points of view.

    2. Leatherwings*

      This is a really unfair characterization of what pretty much everyone here wrote and it’s way over the line.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      This comment is inappropriate. Please be kind to writers, or there will be no more letters publish.

      1. Kate, short for Bob*

        Calm down dear, there’s no need to be threatened by people wanting to treat people considerately

    4. LTR*

      Hey, that’s not fair. This isn’t the same thing as an employee displaying a finisher’s medal from a race; it’s clearly a display associated with violence. And regardless of your feelings on guns it’s inappropriate for work. And there are certainly instances at work where people should mind their own business and do their job, but this isn’t one of those times.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Nobody said anything about someone being fired. That’s not just a strawman, it’s a straw army.

      There are loads of things that are inappropriate for a workplace. It’s not a social justice warrior issue, it’s a matter of professionalism.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I’m just confused about why it’s so controversial that people shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable at work. Leaving aside the exaggerations….is Hank of the opinion that it’s acceptable that people should be uncomfortable at work? That it’s unacceptable that professionalism demands one consider the feelings of one’s clients, coworkers, and superiors and the diversity of experiences and viewpoints that entails?


        1. fposte*

          I actually do think it’s acceptable for people to be uncomfortable at work, but I also think people are absolutely obliged to consider the comfort of others in a workplace, and getting along with people is part of what they’re paid for.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            It’s acceptable for people to be uncomfortable at work, but not on a whim, for no good reason, because the other person was too thick or too inconsiderate to avoid the obvious.

            1. Gandalf the Nude*

              Yeah, comfort needs to be balanced against business needs. If there’s not a business need to make someone uncomfortable, err on the side of comfort. Being considerate is pretty low effort.

          2. turquoisecow*

            Oh, agree. It’s part of getting along with people – why should you want them to be uncomfortable? It’s reasonable for people to feel uncomfortable on occasion – such is life – but why would you not want to minimize that for others?

        2. KellyK*

          People who like to do things that make others uncomfortable (whether deliberately, because they’re bullies, or incidentally because everyone’s threshold for discomfort is different) feel like it’s a huge imposition on them to avoid that behavior.

          It’s a crappy attitude, but a pretty common one. There’s an extent to which it’s reasonable, because sometimes something else outweighs the discomfort. For example, you don’t avoid telling someone they made a mistake at work because it might make them uncomfortable. You shouldn’t have to hide your religion or gender or sexual orientation at work because some people are uncomfortable that people like you even exist.

          But people tend to jump straight from, “This is highly likely to make people uncomfortable, is totally optional, and doesn’t serve a work purpose. Maybe don’t do it?” to “Police your every word, action, and gesture to ensure that no one is uncomfortable ever.” It’s the strawman army Katie the Fed mentioned, all skiing down a slippery slope fallacy.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, that’s exactly the mistaken conflation. “Other people’s comfort counts” isn’t that draconian a notion.

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            But people tend to jump straight from, “This is highly likely to make people uncomfortable, is totally optional, and doesn’t serve a work purpose. Maybe don’t do it?” to “Police your every word, action, and gesture to ensure that no one is uncomfortable ever.”

            This is really well said. I wish there were a more succinct way to express it — I tend to conceptualize it as the social cost-benefit analysis, but I feel like that doesn’t quite cover it properly.

    6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      ….and yep, there’s the “social justice warrior” dig at the end. It was either that or “snowflakes” or “political correctness run amok.” I got your number, Hank.

      Look, dude, you’re not entitled to dictate whether people are entitled to feel uncomfortable or not, and you’re not entitled to dictate whether they’re subjected to negativity. If having to accommodate the feelings of others enrages you this much, you’re the one who needs to suck it up, and you’re the one who needs to mind his own business. If that bothers you, cope.

    7. Merida May*

      I don’t really understand what is so shocking about the idea that in a shared office space you need to be mindful about what you are putting out there – and specifically how what you’re putting out there comes across.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Being considerate of others’ feelings interferes with one’s right to do whatever you want with no consequences. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Constitution.

        1. Merida May*

          Whoops! I forgot to align my decoder pen to B2 for the word scramble under the Bill of Rights, otherwise I would have remembered seeing that!

      2. Justme*

        My former co-worker is allergic to cleaning chemicals. So they would get a warning when we wanted to clean our desks so they could make plans accordingly. Spared them the headache (literally) and us being the jerks forcing them to use sick time and then covering their work. Courtesy is not that difficult.

    8. Mike C.*

      Yes, we absolutely must do everything in our power to assure that no one EVER feels uncomfortable about ANYTHING at the workplace,

      You’re missing the point by a mile here.

    9. Hanna*

      I’m sure you’re planning to come back and respond to everyone else’s comments on your post. No drop-the-turd-and-run-away for you, sir, right?

      1. Mike C.*

        Seriously Hank, if you don’t have the guts to defend or discuss a controversial opinion, don’t post it to begin with.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          But he doesn’t want to defend or discuss. He wants to scream at the awful social justice warriors that are ruining this country to get off his lawn and then go back inside. He doesn’t want to be part of an actual discourse on any topic.

    10. animaniactoo*

      Okay, you’ve taken the issue to a reductio ad absurdum conclusion that nobody is advocating. Would you care to explain why you think this is the takeaway of what people have said here?

    11. Kitkat*

      I think this is about weighing the possibility that someone might feel seriously uncomfortable vs. the imposition on the other person to hide something that would make someone uncomfortable. For example, a picture on a colleagues’ desk of their same sex husband might make someone seriously uncomfortable, but the burden on the colleague to hide a major part of their identity outweighs that.

      In this case, seeing a human figure with holes in the head is likely to make many people very uncomfortable, and it does not seem unreasonable to me to ask the coworker to not even hide their hobby, just tone down their display.

        1. fposte*

          It can be, though, as Kitkat’s example shows. I’m willing to hear a word other than “imposition,” but this is a good example of why I won’t straight out say you shouldn’t be uncomfortable at work–there are things that make people uncomfortable that it’s nonetheless not fair or appropriate to require other people to hide.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Comparing someone’s actual right to be out at work is really really not the same as the “right” to display objects of their chosen hobbies. Like, I don’t even think the initial comparison is fair even though the conclusion is.

    12. Gadfly*

      We really should keep the strawmen on the target range. They are also inappropriate to display almost anywhere else…

  15. Hannah*

    I go shooting occasionally with my boyfriend. Just a week ago, I stuck our latest target practice sheets up on a wall in our house. I’m a better shot than him and it’s fun to hold it over his head. We have been joking that he better stay on my good side. It’s just a minor hobby, but I am kind of proud of how good I am at shooting since I’m not athletic in any way.

    Just want to set the stage there to say I would never dream of hanging the sheet up at work. I have no problem with guns (more like a healthy fear/respect for them) but this is not appropriate for work, there’s not even a question. It has a vaguely violent or threatening tone to hang something like that up in your cubicle. It’s fine at home, where my boyfriend knows I am not going to shoot him (I hope) but even that is kind of an edgy joke between the two of us.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I like this comparison. My husband and I have talked about taking a gun class together, as he grew up in Wyoming and misses sport shooting, and I’ve never touched a gun in my life and figure it wouldn’t be the worst to try and graduate to that healthy fear/respect stage. I would gloat like crazy if I ever out-shot him. But yeah, an edgy joke can be great between spouses/friends/family, not so great with coworkers.

    2. Elizabeth H.*

      I have my target from the first time I ever shot a gun and surprisingly did really well, so I’m really pleased I have it, but I don’t even hang it up in my room in my APARTMENT because I think it would be offensive to people. (This is based on where I live and the people who would see it. If I lived with different friends, I might put it on the fridge for a while or something – just like in your situation)

      I think there is certainly a local culture component to reactions to this. I work in an art school in Boston and if I tried to hang a target up near my desk people would probably think I had had a stroke (although come to think it it, they would probably first assume it was part of someone’s art project). But it sounds like there are some workplaces, even those that aren’t related to sports or sport shooting, in different parts of the country where it would be less shocking.

      1. Hannah*

        Yeah, I’m in a very very liberal area in the Northeast like you. That definitely informs my opinion when I say this is unquestionably inappropriate, I do have to acknowledge that. But I still think this would be inappropriate anywhere, I don’t think you’d find too many workplaces anywhere in the country where this wouldn’t raise eyebrows.

    3. The Optimizer*

      haha – this is so my husband and me! He’s the gun enthusiast and I was (at first) reluctant to join him. However, we live in Colorado (where there are a lot of people with guns), we camp in the wilderness regularly and we don’t live int he greatest neighborhood. We’ve run into some weirdo mountain folk miles away from any cell service or paved road, not to mention seeing moose and evidence of mountain lions and bears in our camps. I like knowing that I can defend myself or my dog if needed.

      The fact that I am generally a better shot than my husband is most definitely a major point of pride!

      1. paul*

        I grew up on the front range and know what you mean. Finding bear scat and pug marks in your front yard in the morning can be…interesting. I hope to take my kids up there to show them where I grew up and you can bet we’ll have bear spray and I’ll have a big bore revolver on me.

        1. The Optimizer*

          I once woke up at 5a to go to the bathroom and my dog alerted me to the big bull moose that was 30 yards away. I scared the crap out of my husband by waking him up and asking him to come out of the tent with a leash and the gun. I was worried about my dog – moose do not like them and it was early fall so the rut was on. Thankfully, I got the dog under control and the big guy disappeared into the forest. Once the dog was safe, I was thrilled and got a great video out of it.

    4. Kalamet*

      You said this better than me. Something can be inappropriate for a work setting without being an Immoral Thing You Should Be Ashamed Of. Going to target practice is a normal, acceptable hobby, but it’s not outrageous to say “no human-shaped targets at work”.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yep, every day is No Pants Day in my house. But I am not at all offended that I’m expected to be fully clothed at the office.

            1. Emi.*

              When I was in college, my dormmates and I had to have a special knock that meant “There’s a boy with me, so put on some pants.”

  16. Risa*

    I owe guns and like to shoot at the range. I live in California, and particularly in a county that swings far left on the gun debate. My HR director at my OldJob had a practice target hanging on her office door. I found it really inappropriate, particularly given her role, even though I am comfortable around guns. I didn’t take it as a sign that she would come in one day, guns blazing, but I did take it as an attempt to intimidate anyone who might want to come to her with an unpleasant issue or question. She was an asshat for a variety of other reasons (most inappropriate HR director ever). I think the targets have the potential to send a variety of bad messages, and wouldn’t want to risk being unapproachable by hanging one of mine in the office. Though I’ve certainly taken photos of them, and shown them to a couple of co-workers who I know share an interest.

    1. The Optimizer*

      Same here. The closest I’ve come to any of this is taking a picture of one of my particularly well shot targets and posting the pic to social media. Never would I consider posting it at work!

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      Agreed. I think what you choose to display at the office certainly has an effect on how people perceive you, and I think it’s disingenuous to claim that co-workers shouldn’t draw conclusions about the things that people choose to make prominent. Currently my desk has a desk puzzle and a little plant; I think the public perception of me would be very different if I had, say, a pack of condoms and my shot glass collection.

      Even with a karate trophy- I agree that it doesn’t have the implications of a shooting target, but I’d still argue that it sends a particular message, and in some places, that would not be a favorable message to send.

      1. fposte*

        Some of this is the bumper sticker effect–it’s not just that you believe this or do this, it’s that this above everything else is what you chose to display.

  17. Grits McGee*

    The girl who lived across the hall in my dorm in college had a lovelorn ex-boyfriend who sat (against our door!) in the hall for hours at a time. In response, the girl across the hall hung a used gun range target on her door. It was 100% a warning/threat.

    1. Aisling*

      In that context, it’s absolutely a threat, yes. But, are you saying that the targets at work are also 100% a threat? I practice target shooting periodically, and I’ll keep a target that I’d shot well, because I’m proud of it (and living on a ranch, there are actual reasons to shoot critters and be a good shot while doing that). I wouldn’t bring it to work, but I wouldn’t immediatly jump to the conclusion of “threat” if I saw someone else do it.

  18. Allison*

    I’d feel weird about it too. I get that a lot of people visit the gun range just to blow off steam, learn self defense, or sharpen their aim for the hell of it, and they’re not violent people. That said, hanging the sheet you shot at, with the bullet holes and everything, at your desk for everyone to see, is a little . . . crude, I’d say. And tone deaf. I could see it being totally within the culture at some types of offices, but not in general.

  19. Eliza Jane*

    I’m going to apologize in advance if this is inappropriate speculation, but this honestly really scares me.

    When people are on the edge of doing something dramatic, such as suicide or violence against others, they often (consciously or otherwise) leave signals about it. There is part of them that wants to be stopped. This is not universal — sometimes there aren’t any indications — but it happens often enough that when someone is talking a lot about death or violence, it should really be taken seriously.

    This is one of those things that pushes every button in my head screaming, “This guy is asking someone to stop him.” Talk to HR. 100% talk to HR. Please. If it’s not part of a pattern, probably nothing will come of it. But if it is part of a pattern, someone needs to be the one to point out warning signs.

    1. Mary Dempster*

      If displaying your target sheets is a sign of severe mental illness and a desperate cry for help, then I’m totally screwed. This is not logical.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            I’m being a little flip, but generally, if people have been traumatized by guns, their reactions are not going to adhere to the strict dictates of logic. That doesn’t mean those reactions shouldn’t be taken seriously, or shouldn’t be taken into account when one wonders “gee, should I hang a head silhouette target at my cube showing my double-tap skills?” Their feelings are still valid even if you, with your experience and biases, find them illogical.

            1. fposte*

              The feelings are valid, but I’m not on board with the assessment or the action suggestion. I think it’s borne of unfamiliarity rather than viable risk assessment.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                That’s a very fair point, and I happen to agree. My point, though, is not that Eliza Jane is necessarily correct, but that people who think like her are out there, and may be represented among one’s clients and coworkers and managers. And given that, is there really an upside that justifies wading into those waters. My argument is no.

            2. Mary Dempster*

              Oh I never said her feelings weren’t valid, it was the call to action I take issue with. No call to action without logic, my grapappy always said. Not really, but, you know.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Oh, that’s totally fair. No, I would not report someone to HR as a potential threat because they tacked up a target. I just mean in the context of the OP’s question about propriety.

              2. Eliza Jane*

                I think you may be overthinking the action I had in mind. I wasn’t talking about telling HR, “This person may be a workplace shooter!” I’m saying, let them know the display is there and that it seems like it’s very violent for a workplace environment. Part of patterns are pointing out the individual acts. That’s why I said, “If it’s nothing, it’s nothing. If it’s part of a pattern, it’s not.”

                I mean, maybe it’s just my own personal experience speaking here, but I’ve seen things like this waved off as “just a little thing,” and then something DOES happen. And in the aftermath, everyone had seen a few little things, but no one had spoken up, and so the pattern was never identified.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Yeah, it’s the old “He was quiet and minded his own business…polite…but now that you mention, I’ve always wondered where my cat went” kind of thing.

                2. Mary Dempster*

                  You implied that having a target was a sign that they were “asking to be stopped” and “there is a part of them that wants to be stopped.” As someone who has literally dozens of targets in their home, as well as about 50 metal targets in storage, and the skulls of animals I have personally butchered and eaten on my wall, then by your logic I’m crying out for help. I disagree with that, and I do think the speculation went way too far, based of the evidence you were given.

                3. Eliza Jane*

                  Yeah, and it varies from relatively innocuous things like stuff going missing around your desk that you don’t report (one company I worked for, around 30 people had cell phones stolen from their desks before two people actually reported it so the pattern was identified and they found the thief), to little jokes about violence or aggressiveness towards kids that mask abuse, to the weird signals that are given off sometimes by people who are sexual predators feeling out potential victims.

                  You obviously don’t arrest someone because he keeps trying to tickle a friend who’s asked him not to. But breaking the social norms is a real thing that is done by people willing to break more. And because of that, you should share knowledge.

      1. Leatherwings*

        I don’t think Eliza was saying it necessarily is a desperate cry for help, just that it could be if it’s part of a larger pattern. I don’t see a huge issue with that analysis.

      2. Eliza Jane*

        I’m not talking about displaying your target sheets, I’m talking about bringing into work a silhouette of a human head with bulletholes in it.

        If that happens to be synonymous with “displaying your target sheets,” I guess that’s a different question.

        1. Mary Dempster*

          I just don’t think a poor understanding of workplace appropriateness and etiquette is equal to someone “asking to be stopped”. And frankly, OP was definitely not the first person to ever see this, so if it hasn’t been requested to be taken down, maybe it IS appropriate in that group.

    2. Roscoe*

      Ok, lets not armchair psychoanalyze people here. You know nothing about this person except that they hung up some target practice. Argue the appropriateness all you like, but lets not assume anything about suicide or violence. Since you didn’t identify as one, I’m going to guess you aren’t a trained medical professional. So lets leave this stuff up to the professionals

    3. fposte*

      I think that’s an overread myself–target practice is a really, really common pastime, as is showing off.

      1. Eliza Jane*

        Stop by, and say, “Hi. I saw something at a meeting the other day that made me feel uncomfortable. At the desk closest to the door in X section, there was a target practice which was a silhouette of a head with bulletholes. I don’t know who sits there, but it felt like a very violent display for a work environment.”

        Then HR can act, or not act, but at least it’s been reported.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think it only reads as sensitive if the listener already believes it’s ok to display bullet-hole-riddled human silhouettes.

            1. fposte*

              I think the phraseology was as steeped in the opposing point of view, though, and it would be wise to find something more neutral. “I know those are standard, but out of context it seemed a strange thing to have at work, and I was taken aback.”

          2. Nonprofit pro*

            And I still agree with Eliza Jane. It’s better to say something and have it turn out to be nothing, than it is to stay silent and have regrets later. A friend of mine tried to kill himself when we were in school and the guilt from not speaking up about the disturbing things he was posting on social media is huge. He could have gotten the help he needed way earlier if one of the hundreds of “friends” he had on facebook had said something to counseling services.

            1. Eliza Jane*

              Yeah, I think this kind of regret really stays with you. In my case, it’s a guy who ended up trying to kill his girlfriend after lots of “really just a joke” or “just for fun” kinds of indicators.

          3. mrs__peel*

            I don’t think so. In all of the places I’ve ever worked, HR would take something like that very seriously.

    4. Mike C.*

      I honestly think this is a bit much. I went shooting for the first (and only time) for a bachelor’s party a while back and was eager to show a few friends how (terribly) I did later on. I’m certainly not interested in harming myself or others.

    5. Electric Hedgehog*

      This is a stretch. Like, a long stretch. Most of the time people shoot for fun, not because they’re broken. It’s understandable that this person would be proud of their skills and want to show off their accomplishments to their coworkers. Agreed that the headshot target is tasteless though.

    6. Kinsley M.*

      If someone came to me and said “Bob has a target hanging in his office, and I think that means he’s about to come shoot up the office/kill himself or others,” with absolutely zero other evidence, I would think THEY were the ones that needed help. This is a gigantic leap to take. Not only does it assign your own feelings to someone’s state of mind, it can harm ‘Bob’s’ reputation and/or job.

      It’s fine to find hanging targets inappropriate. And you most definitely can express that it makes you uncomfortable. It is 100% not fine to define someone else’s state of mind yourself. And then decide on your own that it makes them a viable threat that the workplace needs to deal with. That’s not ok – full stop. It is a wild overreaction to the issue at hand.

      1. Willow*

        But that’s not what Eliza Jane is saying at all. She’s advocating telling HR about the targets because they’re an inappropriate display of violence. She’s also pointing out that minor inappropriate acts sometimes signal a larger problem. So it’s important to pay attention to and report smaller stuff like this. I’m not sure how anyone could take away from her comments that she’s recommending the op tell HR this guy is a possible workplace shooter.

    7. Star*

      Got to love how Eliza said “report this because it could be a pattern” and so many folks are jumping to say that’s an overreaction! Oversensitive much! Stop armchair diagnosing!

      It this societal impetus to keep quite that lets predators get away with stuff. Doesn’t mean someone who notes or reports flags, red or yellow, is oversensitive or stretching.

      1. fposte*

        The question is whether it’s a flag at all, and I don’t think calling people oversensitive is great either–at least the reaction call is about a behavior, not a person.

      2. Willow*

        Yes! There are two possibilities: either this is just an isolated mistake, or it’s part of a larger pattern. In scenario one, it’s best to tell HR so this person can be informed the target is not appropriate. In scenario two, it’s best to tell HR so if they get reports from multiple people about this person being inappropriate/threatening, they can take action. Being aware of scenario two isn’t overreacting, it’s just basic caution.

  20. The Optimizer*

    I have guns and practice with them regularly at a range. I’m not a hunter and I’ve never shot at anything other than a piece of paper or an empty can. While I lean very far left on most issues, I do believe in self defense. That said, hanging a target at work is very, VERY inappropriate. I can see if that was the culture and you worked for a company that had something to do with hunting, weapons, etc it might be OK but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  21. Katie the Fed*

    In a previous life, I worked with the military, and this wouldn’t even be appropriate in their offices. It’s just not appropriate.

    1. RubyTuesday*

      I just made a similar comment, except where I worked, I saw them hanging all the time. I never thought a thing of it since it’s a training requirement.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That was not my experience at all, but the building was more of the five-sided variety so things were a little more formal.

      2. TL -*

        Yeah, I saw your comment and my first thought was “Officer or enlisted?” The culture is wildly, wildly different – my (naval captain) grandfather would have never done this after a certain point in his career and he was a champion sharpshooter; my (enlisted) Marine friend probably would have. They are both gun enthusiasts. My (enlisted) Coast Guard cousin probably wouldn’t have but he’s not a gun enthusiast.

        Military is a whole different kettle of fish though.

  22. Pup Seal*

    Am I the only one who immediately thought of that scene in Matilda when Miss Trunchbull is throwing darts at a dartboard with photos of children pinned to it?

    1. Anon...but just today!*

      Totally off topic, but I happened to catch a PBS movie (Pollyanna) the other night where the woman who played Miss Trunchbull played a very cranky, but kindhearted woman. I sat there for a moment wondering where on earth I’d seen her before and when it dawned on me I was honestly shocked.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        I absolutely used to LOVE Polyanna, was the she cranky one who didn’t like prisms?! Going to have to re-watch.

  23. Mary Dempster*

    “Hey coworkers, just want you all to know that I can make a headshot from 80 yards. Also I love guns, which means I might carry one with me in the office!

    As someone who can make a head shot from 500 yards, and general target practice at 800+, and loves guns, it would be insane to think I would bring one in to the office. That’s slippery slope fallacy at it’s finest.

    I personally see zero issue with it, but I can see where in some places it would be considered inappropriate. I am flabbergasted at how many people are totally terrified of a target though. If I brought a target paper I shot with my bow at 50 yds, which is just as deadly, would you be as terrified?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Stop exaggerating. Nobody has said they’re “totally terrified” of a target, and I’ll thank you to represent their positions honestly and argue in good faith. What we’re saying is that it’s inappropriate and could make people uncomfortable.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        I am not exaggerating, I was actually referring to Eliza Jane’s comment, which does read as utterly terrified to me.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Ok, but you said you were “flabbergasted at how many people are totally terrified of a target.” You’ve named one person. A number of people here said that they would be uncomfortable with it, but that’s not at all the same thing as being terrified, and certainly not terrified of the target itself.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        OK – one person, who just posted, has said they’re terrified. They can defend that point on their own. It’s not mine.

          1. Mary Dempster*

            I would be interested to hear your opinions on archery tarets vs gun targets, though. I’m much more dangerous with my bow than with my rifle, but it comes without a social stigma.

            PS Before anyone panics or goes on attack, I do hunt and we do eat 100% personally harvested and butchered meat, and I buy no store bought meat at all.

            1. Leatherwings*

              An archery target shaped as a human head would also be inappropriate IMO. It’s the implication and allusion to violence, not necessarily the potential realization of it that makes people feel uncomfortable.

              It’s also generally not the culture here that people panic or go on attack (about eating meat or anything else) so I don’t think you need to worry about that.

              1. Mary Dempster*

                Leatherwings, thanks, it’s become quite a common, protective thing for me, just to state it up front to avoid the “MURDERER!” comments, which happen more than one might think. Then the same name-caller goes for a hamburger lunch.

            2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Honestly, unless there’s an arrow still sticking out of it, I doubt most folks would notice the distinction….but even if so, I think just about any reference to weapons or implied or actual violence of any kind has zero place in the workplace.

              And I say this as someone who owns several guns.

              1. Mary Dempster*

                You’re right, it is inappropriate in the workplace, and I got stuck here thinking more big picture. I do think archery vs rifle perceptions are so interesting though.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  And I know people who could be utterly lethal with a bow….but I feel like archery has more of a Ye Olde Merry Men/Boy Scout Camp connotation.

            3. fposte*

              I think if what you’re posting looks like a human getting deaded, I’m going to ask it not be in the workplace, whatever the tool. If it doesn’t, it’s not likely to bother me on its own.

              To me it’s less about what you’re doing in your off hours than what literal image the office is seeing.

              1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*


                I don’t care if you created the hole with pencil pretending to be John Wick or Jason Bourne – if you are displaying a surrogate human with a death blow that you delivered, I think that is utterly inappropriate for the work place. Because not all things are appropriate at work. I think it is inappropriate to watch porn at work. Not because I have a problem with porn, because it doesn’t belong AT WORK

            4. Morning Glory*

              Yeah, I’d have an issue with it – because why are you bringing it into the office?

              I’d have no issue with you doing target practice of any kind on your own time, just like I’d have no issue or an archery or gun-shooting trophy if you’d won a competition because that is small, and represents an accomplishment.

              But seriously – taking a large, paper target that you shot (with anything) and displaying it in the office is really weird.

              1. Eliza Jane*

                Yes! This was actually what I was getting at above. The target itself doesn’t scare me. But it seems so bizarre and OBVIOUSLY inappropriate to bring in, I honestly just cannot see why anyone would possibly think it was okay. That’s what unnerves me. Why did they bring it in??

                1. Mary Dempster*

                  Because when that’s a hobby/sport/activity of yours, you do absolutely become less sensitive to others who are completely unfamiliar with it. I personally had to quickly change my phone background the other day when I was babysitting, because it was a picture of me with a buck I had shot with my bow, and I realized that it is not appropriate for the children to see without knowing more about how their parents feel about it. I think if anything this should be approached as a lack of sensitivity, not an act of aggression.

                2. fposte*

                  I’m agreeing with Mary. I don’t think it’s universally the breach you’re seeing it as, Eliza Jane; it’s more of a “ehh, maybe not that one for work” rather than a “Dear God, no,” so I don’t find it hugely surprising that somebody would calibrate it on the side of putting it up. I don’t think most people with these targets are reading them the way you do or expecting them to be read that way; it’s an artifact of a hobby.

                  I’m not saying it’s forbidden or misplaced to read it less casually–I wouldn’t let it be hung in my unit–but that it can be helpful to keep in mind how this likely fits into the world of the person who hung it up.

                3. Morning Glory*

                  I come from rural hunting country, so I can understand the desensitization to this kind of thing – but I think there’s a difference between a phone background and target practice sheets. A phone background is more like a bumper sticker, or something you saw as appropriate when you did it outside the workplace, and then did not think about it again when you were inside the workplace.

                  Target practice sheets though – they are just so big. You’d have to take them from the gun range and fold the paper and put them in your car and then carry them into the building and unfold them and then tape them up on your office door – that’s a lot of effort with the sole purpose of displaying them at work. I agree it likely wasn’t a genuine threat, but I can also see it being turned into a joking threat along the lines of ‘did you meet the last guy that asked me to expedite an expense report?’ (points to door)

                  I think it’s in very poor taste and the OP is well within her rights to be uncomfortable and ask that the targets be taken down.

                4. Eliza Jane*

                  I honestly think it distresses me almost as much that target shooting can desensitize you to that extent to the message of a head full of bullets. I literally cannot imagine myself ever displaying that kind of image without it being meant as a threat, whether general or specific.

                  For the record, I don’t have an issue with guns in general. My son has fired guns, through scouts, and we have some of his targets stored in a closet. I plan to take my daughter to a shooting range in a few years. But I just cannot fathom how that type of display, up at work, without context, could ever not be seen as violent.

                5. Mary Dempster*

                  Because it’s the standard sheet given out at gun ranges across the country. I have no reason to practice shooting at a person, I don’t use my firearms for self-defense. I use them to feed myself. But when I go to a gun range, guess what they have for me? It’s not a picture of a deer, ever.

                  I want to maintain that I still am not on the side of “this is totally fine” BUT you have to see something somehow of how another person’s experiences with firearms are completely different from yours, and therefore they would NOT see this as a violent thing.

            5. MegaMoose, Esq*

              I think the reason people find guns more concerning than bows is that guns are generally much easier to use and (depending on the gun of course) much easier to use against multiple targets very quickly. A two-year-old can operate a gun with enough “skill” to kill someone. My understanding is that most bows take a fair amount of skill and strength to operate with any sort of effectiveness.

              1. Aurion*

                The first time I shot a bow was at camp. It was considered a point of pride to even hit anywhere on the target. I’ll not be pulling off bulls-eyes with a pistol any time soon, but yeah, small firearms are much easier to operate.

                1. TL -*

                  I got a compound bow at 9 or 10 ish and I hit the target fairly quickly; at least within the first session I had with it. It was much easier to operate accurately than the little plastic bows they use at camps/fairs (which I am not as accurate with).

                  But then again, also really hard to do anything more damaging than taking an eye out with a BB gun.

            6. The OP*

              I’d find it equally inappropriate, but maybe that’s just because I’ve seen We Need To Talk About Kevin.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Well, though you did say “I am flabbergasted at how many people are totally terrified of a target though” – and I see literally one person saying something about being terrified. I think, especially when we are dealing with what we all know to be an issue that comes with baggage or controversy, that we make an effort not to inflame the debate with hyperbole (even in response to hyperbole).

            1. Mary Dempster*

              I did read other comments that implied fear, so maybe I shouldn’t have used the word terrified, but I consider fear to be healthy, terrified to be debilitating. It seemed debilitating, and was just my interpretation of what I read.

  24. SCAnonibrarian*

    It does raise some interesting questions for me too.

    I live in the south, and shooting and hunting are just things people do like grocery shop or play doubles at tennis. That said, the targets hung at work (specifically the silhouette) are really off putting, and I’m trying to figure out why.

    I haven’t got anything against sports memorabilia, and even archery or precision shooting or ‘cowboy’ shooting trophies or certificates wouldn’t really bother me that much – it is a fine motor skill, and honestly it’s a skill that doesn’t translate at all into violent or chaotic situations. Much like most martial artists aren’t going to be much use outside the specific sparring or practice or match conditions of their specific training.

    On the other hand, photos of trophy kills or hunting bags DO bother me quite a lot, and I’d rather not see them at work. I’d be way more bothered by a photo of someone posing beside a dead moose than I would be by a used target sheet.

    So I think what’s getting me, and maybe some other commenters is that the silhouette one is two things; 1) implies violence directly toward people, and 2) raises questions about their professional judgement regarding their shooting which then makes me concerned (rightly or wrongly) about their judgement in other matters like do they carry at work? do they react well to perceived slights or threats? how do they handle their temper or their irritations while at work?

    And all of that undertone makes that silhouette target unsettling in a way that a person’s basket weaving or tai chi memorabilia (or even an Olympic medal for target shooting) would not be.

  25. RubyTuesday*

    I’m inclined to agree with you, but what about on a military installation? I used to work on one and target practice is a requirement for the soldiers, so it was commonplace to see targets hanging in the office. I never thought a thing of it…til now. Still wrong?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I think that’s a bit of a special case. That said, I work on a military installation and this is pretty rare though not unheard of.

    2. TL -*

      I will say, I grew up next to a naval air base and knew a lot of higher ranking Naval officers (mostly captains and retired fighter pilots) and hung targets would be completely out of the question for them. But I think there are other sectors of the military where nobody would bat an eye; the enlisted men I’m thinking of would be very likely to have this. Very dependent.

  26. Turtlewings*

    The targets would not have struck me as especially alarming or even strange. However, I grew up in Alabama with a police officer dad and currently live in Texas. I don’t own a gun myself but have always had them around, and one of the main events at our annual family reunion is target shooting, which my extremely sweet, shy, peaceful mother won last year.

    OP, I hope maybe the few comments like mine will help reassure you that your coworker is probably not a psycho. I’m not arguing that the targets should be taken down, and in fact reading here has been education to me in how many people found them disturbing! But whoever put them up may well be like my relatives–proud of a skill, not especially associating it with violence (odd as that may sound!), and a bit tone-deaf to the culture around him/her.

  27. Katie F*

    There is exactly one workplace where this is remotely appropriate.

    That workplace is a gun range/gun store.

  28. Cochrane*

    Reminds me of a sign I saw by the delivery door of a restaurant that I eat lunch at occasionally: a picture of a shooting range target silhouette with the caption “there is nothing in here that is worth your life”.

    It’s classier than “WE WILL SHOOT TO PROTECT OUR WETNAP STORAGE”, but the threat implied is unmistakable.

    So no, not appropriate in the workplace.

  29. anonimal*

    OK, we did this at work BUT:
    All the women on the team had gone to a women’s night at a gun range as a group (not a work sponsored event but it was work people) and afterwards put up all our targets on a wall at work with our names on them. I thought it was pretty neat, but that’s because I’m a good shot haha. I had only fired a gun once before, but several people shoot regularly and one brought her own gun.
    And yes, we were told to take them down after about a month because it was inappropriate. I knew it was inappropriate but I didn’t put them up. We live in Texas so there’s a strong gun culture, but it’s a tech company where guns are not allowed.
    I think this feels a little different because it was women shooting guns, which is typically a form of empowerment and self-defense. Yes, I know violence is committed by women sometimes, but if men had done this I would have felt very differently about it.
    Just wanted to add this story since it was a different twist.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      My sister did the same thing. We went target shooting once in our life with a family friend – neither of us had ever even touched a gun before. My sister was incredibly good at it and hung the target in her office because she was proud of herself. And this was in a federal office in DC. I think she left it up for a couple of weeks as a conversation piece and then threw it away. I just don’t see how target shooting is nefarious (and I’m very pro gun control).

  30. Marcy*

    Aren’t these sheets just a nonverbal representation of what would otherwise be inappropriate to say out loud at work?

    “Hi coworker, even though our jobs have nothing to do with guns, I just wanted you to know that I possess the gun proficiency to accurately shoot human figures in the head.” I think that’s a lot different than a trophy (“I’m good at shooting guns” or “I’m good at karate”), or even a picture of the coworker with a gun (“I like guns. Sometimes I go out shooting with my guns.”).

    1. Roscoe*

      If you didn’t word it like that and just said, I went to the gun range this weekend, and I’m a great shot.

    2. Emi.*

      But the degree of “good at shooting guns” required to win a trophy generally corresponds to “the gun proficiency to accurately shoot human figures in the head,” no? Even if the competition used bull’s-eye targets, the skills are the same.

      1. Amy The Rev*

        As fposte said earlier, it’s about which aspect of the skill you’re choosing to brag about. If someone asked you, ‘what do you do in your spare time?’ and you said ‘I go to the shooting range and recently I’ve won a couple marksmanship contests; it’s pretty fun and I like working on a new skill’ , it would come across very differently than if you said “I go to the shooting range, and I’m pretty good at it- I could shoot you in the head pretty easily from a significant distance”. The skills are the same, but there’s a way to frame it non-threateningly/normally and a way to frame it threateningly/violently. I’d think ‘hm, that’s different, but whatever’ about a bullseye or marksmanship trophy, but I’d think ‘wtf is the need to show this in the office’ for a human torso sillouhette with bullet holes in the head.

        1. MadGrad*

          The difference is also in being asked versus introducing yourself to others as “Hi, I shoot guns and am GREAT at it.” The out of context nature makes it more uncomfortable and potentially threatening.

      2. SCAnonibrarian*

        They’re actually very much not. Any still target shooting in a standard range environment is sufficiently artificial and specific in nature that the gains do not translate to any sort of accuracy in an evolving real-life situation. That’s why even police officers are abysmal shots and shoot so many bullets in crisis situations – they’re not sufficiently trained to handle the chaos and emotional/mental stresses of those situations because it’s insanely difficult and expensive (and sometimes actively dangerous) to recreate them sufficiently to even provide the practice.

        1. Emi.*

          That’s a good point! I really don’t think a demonstration of the capability to do harm is the real issue here–it’s the violent imagery.

  31. grasshopper*

    This reminds me of the shooting range scene from the TV show “Atlanta” (you can find it on vimeo). Patrons who are shooting at practice targets in the shape of people get upset when another patron starts shooting at a target in the shape of a dog.

  32. Nonprofit Nancy*

    I’ d think it was a little weird if somebody had some sports trophy in their office … is that just me? It’s just so irrelevant to their job (presumably). Maybe I’m out of touch with office conventions, as a cube dweller in a corporate environment, but I’d consider office decor should be mostly job related. That’s certainly the way it is around here, with maybe a family photo or two.

    1. Justme*

      I’m with you that I would think a trophy in the office was weird. The only plaques or trophies I have seen are employment related. And my office decor is so not job-related. I’m also not very client-facing, so I have kid drawings and birthday cards and stuff on my bulletin board.

    2. Leatherwings*

      That might read as a little odd to me to, but in a totally different and harmless way to the target practice paper. Like, if Jeremiah brings in 20 photos of his ferret, that would be a little weird, just like someone’s karate trophy. But that’s a work culture “this person has different values than me” thing, not something that’s inappropriate.

      1. Morning Glory*

        Yeah I agree with this. If the OP was asking whether to bring in her own karate trophy or 20 pictures of a ferret, the commenters would probably be saying ‘naw don’t do it, people are going to think you’re a bit weird.’

        But that’s not really because it’s offensive, or because people would be uncomfortable because of it.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s funny, because I initially wasn’t seeing why people were side-eyeing the hypothetical trophies, but then I thought “Why would somebody have that at work and not home?”

    3. Manders*

      I think it’s an office culture and layout thing. I’d find it weird in an open plan office with a lot of turnover if people started bringing such personal items to work, but it wouldn’t be unusual if someone wanted to add a personal touch to a private office they were planning on staying in for years.

    4. Aurion*

      Eh, I don’t think so? I mean, people have pictures of their kids and family up all the time, or action figurines, or vacation pictures to Peru, or lots of other things that aren’t remotely related to the work they do.

      If I win a sports trophy I’d want to put it up at home because my family and friends would probably appreciate it more (at the very least, they probably care more about me and my accomplishments). Family and friends would probably also shower me with more accolades due to the above. But I don’t think a karate trophy or a marathon medal is inappropriate for the office.

    5. BF50*

      I was thinking it was just me.

      Unless it’s a trophy for the company softball team, I’d think it was weird to have a work.

      It comes across as self-aggrandizing whereas family photos, plants, toys, art, or other decorations do not. It would also make me wonder if the person displaying their trophy had no personal life outside work where they could show that off.

      That said, it wouldn’t make me uncomfortable in the same way that targets in the OP would. A bowling trophy comes off as socially awkward. A human silhouette with bullet holes in the head comes off as threatening.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I don’t think trophies are that weird – it’s just something you’re proud of that you wouldn’t mind chatting with someone about. Back in the good old days when I had a cubicle, I used to hang my NaNoWriMo certificates on the wall.

    6. Princess Carolyn*

      Yep, mark me down for “Probably harmless but definitely odd.” I guess I think desk decor should be more about your likes (colors, patterns, sports teams, family photos) than your interests (cooking, hockey, pub trivia). It’s kind of an arbitrary distinction, but definitely seems to be the convention.

    7. Allison*

      It heavily depends on culture. If an office has mostly plain workspaces, where most posters and knickknacks are work related (company swag, TEAMWORK posters, professional awards, framed degrees, etc.) then yeah, a hobby trophy might be overly personal and out of step. Where I work, many cubicles are decked out in all sorts of stuff, from family pictures to geeky fan art and action figures to sports memorabilia. If I ever place in a dance competition, I might take the trophy (or plaque, or whatever) to work and show it off in my cube for a bit, before finding it a more “permanent” spot at home.

  33. Emi.*

    I agree that it’s inappropriate, but the leap to “I love guns, which means I might carry one with me in the office!” is unwarranted without other reason to believe that this particular person would carry in the office.

  34. Kyrielle*

    OP, I agree the silhouette is inappropriate. (I’m not sure about the target – it doesn’t make me uncomfortable to think about, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate.) So this is NOT intended to suggest you should be okay with it.

    But, for your peace of mind: if it helps, you have no idea if this person would actually be good at shooting someone in the head. If the target wasn’t moving, let alone moving to simulate human movement, getting that “headshot” would’ve been a lot easier than shooting a real person would be – and that’s speaking strictly to skill levels, not to whether or not the person could even bring themselves to aim at a person. Real people don’t generally stand still when a gun comes out, and that changes the skill and luck level needed *considerably*.

    Again, not intended to say the silhouette is okay. Just a thought to keep in mind if it helps you be a little less worried/distressed, if you want, and regardless of whether you decide to raise the issue or not at work.

  35. Gabrielle*

    maybe it was the person’s child who did well in a shooting class/training that they’re enrolled in? i disagree with the head shot, but the bulls eye is less creepy. the person might just be displaying something their child was very proud of. doesn’t make it APPROPRIATE, per se, but a little more plausible. we don’t know. but the headshot needs to come down.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      But if it’s that close to the line, why not err on the side of caution?

    2. mrs__peel*

      “My kid can shoot someone in the head with great accuracy” is not really any more reassuring to me, as a message…

      1. fposte*

        But that’s not likely to be the message the parent is reading in it–it’s “my kid is great at her chosen sport!” I mean, I think it’d be weird to display your kids’ sports achievements in the office either way, but your reading really isn’t the participant reading.

  36. LittleLove*

    My husband has marksmanship awards from his youth he could hang up. They certainly don’t have human silhouettes or imply he shot someone in the head. A trophy is different than a bulls-eye and I say this as a gun owner.

  37. Birdie*

    A couple of my coworkers go to the gun range together and will discuss it at work.. should they stop doing that as well? Personally it doesn’t bother me, I’ve shot a gun before and feel comfortable around firearms. I never thought about it making other people uncomfortable.

    1. TL -*

      That would not bother me. That’s a hobby.
      Hearing a long discussion about the best assassination techniques with a gun – that would bother me. Hunting or target shooting, not a problem. How to kill someone, big problem.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Honestly, they should probably be careful about how they’re talking about it. If I were to walk by them and hear them talk about shooting targets, would I know and understand the context? I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not willing to say they should stop altogether, but hell yes they should be conscientious about how/where/in what context they’re having that discussion.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        I don’t think the responsibility for you understanding a snippet of conversation out of context lies on them, though. If they put up a poster or made an announcement, then yeah, but if you hear something in a conversation that’s not directed at you that’s totally innocent and you misconstrue it, I just don’t see how that’s their fault.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Is this really the kind of thing they want me to misunderstand, though? Because if I do misunderstand and find it threatening, it’s going to be a pain in the ass for them to clear up with HR because I already reported them. You can whine and scream about how that’s the wrong thing for me to do, but gun violence is real and there’s where people’s heads go.

          So it’s not just my problem when I misconstrue what I’m saying, it’s HRs, it’s theirs and it’s everybody’s.

          1. Emi.*

            Can you elaborate on what would prompt you to go to HR? Like, how much would you have to hear (and with how little context), and what would you say to HR? Would you ask them what they were talking about first?

            1. fposte*

              I wouldn’t–if I’m concerned that they’re speaking about possible violence, I’m really not likely to speak to the possibly violent person directly.

                1. fposte*

                  Honestly couldn’t tell you until it happened–somebody muttering to themselves about shooting or getting a gun? Oh, almost certainly, even though I talk to myself and would happily mutter about whatever pickup errands I was trying to remember. “Sometimes shooting is all I think about” said to a colleague? Pretty likely. But I really couldn’t predict it in advance.

                  Basically, I would default to taking action–if I have enough context to know it was harmless, then I deviate from the default, but the level of possible harm on a false positive is soooo much lower than the harm of a false negative. I’m not talking about calling the cops on somebody, after all.

                2. Leatherwings*

                  It depends on the context, what I heard and what they said. I’m not going to tell you a quote that I could possibly hear because that’s unnecessary,could be taken out of context and might very well violate the community standards here. It’s not that hard to imagine.

                  But I think it’s safe to say that most people aren’t idiots and you don’t need to hear exact details to understand the larger point.

            2. Leatherwings*

              Like, I haven’t heard this conversation so no I cannot explain the exact thing I might hear from this exact conversation.
              But if I heard people discussing, for example, guns and weapons and happened to misconstrue that for, say, someone planning to bring a gun to work I’d report that to HR same day without asking them. This is just not a thing I’m going to screw around with and investigate on my own and be sure to get the whole picture and rationalize things about responsible gun owners to myself.
              And I really really don’t think I’m alone in that.

              1. Emi.*

                If I thought one of my coworkers was planning to bring a gun to work, I’d definitely report it to security. I’m sorry if I sounded aggressive! I guess I’m just confused about the specific example–how people could talk about target shooting and it would be overheard in a way that made it sound like one of them was going to bring a gun to work–so I was wondering if you would go to HR just on the basis of, say, hearing someone say “I need to buy more ammo” or whatever.

                1. Mary Dempster*

                  I think that is what they are saying, yes, Leatherwings correct if I’m wrong. I think it’s fine to report it, but to say they can’t, or shouldn’t, discuss anything that might be misconstrued is silly.

                2. fposte*

                  @Mary Dempster–I guess I don’t see what it hurts to say that, since people who want to talk guns are the ones who’d find it advantageous to keep that in mind.

                3. Gandalf the Nude*

                  @Mary Dempster

                  If Coworker A comes to me because they heard pieces of a conversation that made them worried Coworker B and/or C were planning to bring weapons and commit an act of workplace violence, and if after a thorough investigation we determine that was not the case and they really were just talking about a day at the range, do you know which one of them is going to get the serious talking to? Coworker B and C because they were the ones being careless enough in their language that they caused us to have to go into workplace violence prevention mode. Coworker A gets thanks for trying to keep the office safe and for coming to us to report rather than approaching B and C herself and risk escalating the situation. Coworkers B and C get the consequences, just like D and E get the consequences because F didn’t realize “Fire in the break room!” was an inside joke and pulled the fire alarm.

                  If you want to talk about something with violent or dangerous connotations, do so in a way that won’t alarm people not in the know.

                4. Mary Dempster*

                  Gandalf, absolutely fair. I think a talking to would be the absolute minimum. My problem was someone saying “They shouldn’t do this on the off-chance that I misunderstand them.” And there’s a big difference between yelling something like “FIRE!” and saying “There’s a good sale on ammo at Cabela’s.”

                5. Leatherwings*

                  I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever talk about anything that could be misconstrued. I actually said twice I’m not willing to say that they need to shut the conversation all the way down.

                  But they sure as crap ought to be particularly conscientious about it since the subject is delicate and liable to freak some people out.

                6. Gandalf the Nude*

                  Mary, I don’t think you fully understood my comment. I was agreeing with Leatherwings that the hypothetical folks should not be discussing shooting at all if they can’t do so in a way that could be misconstrued. That’s what the talking to would amount to: Do not do this. Do not do this again. Do not talk about dangerous things in a way that might leave another person fearing danger. And why, knowing that fear and that (at minimum) talking to could be a consequence, would someone be so insistent on being careless with their language?

          2. TL -*

            Honestly, it would be really hard to misunderstand a hobby shooting conversation for a deadly shooting kind of conversation. (I’ve heard both. There’s much less overlap than you would think.)

              1. fposte*

                And plenty of us *haven’t* heard both, thank heavens, and would therefore have no comparison points to make.

                1. TL -*

                  Hobby shooting is generally “went to the range” “got a new scope” “ammo is really expensive” “that gun has a lot of kick” “44 caliber/12 gauge” type snippets.
                  Non-hobby shooting uses different terminology. Hunting might get a little confusing but generally an extra five seconds will confirm they’re talking about animals.
                  I might just be more familiar with terminology, but about 5 seconds of listening generally clarifies any snippets I hear.

      2. Birdie*

        They talk about when they will go and who will go. I don’t specifically remember hearing about types of guns or weapons or techniques. I should have been more specific.

    3. MadGrad*

      No, because there’s very reasonable context. If anyone asks, they can just explain it. The situation described in the post is the nonverbal equivalent of starting a conversation with someone who doesn’t necessarily have that context with “Man, did you know I am SO good at shooting things?” The latter is bizarre, with high potential to make others uncomfortable or feel a bit threatened.

  38. Jaguar*

    Is violent imagery the standard? What about people that hang up MMA posters? Posters of superheros punching supervillains in the face? I live in Canada, and posters of hockey players with blood streaming down their faces are pretty common. And then, of course, there’s that bloody crucifixion some people like to prominently display. Violent imagery doesn’t seem like a good standard to decide what’s appropriate, or at least not one that’s evenly applied.

    I don’t own guns, have fired a rifle hunting like twice ever, etc. To me, this seems like it’s just somebody’s thing, and coming down on it seems intollerant to me.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I think every single thing you mentioned has no place at the workplace.

      1. Jaguar*

        So would the reaction OP has and Alison’s response be understandable if the subject were a Christ crucifixion rather than a targeting range sheet?

        Thinking about it a bit more, I’m way more unsettled when people have framed pictures of themselves, holding a gun / bow / whatever over a dead deer and smiling. Is this appropriate?

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          You can’t cut the situation out of its context, but yeah, I’d find it inappropriate and a little weird for someone to have a super-gory crucifixion image at their desk.

        2. Mary Dempster*

          Even I think that a silhouette target should be more unsettling than a picture of someone with a dead animal, providing you’re a meat eater.

        3. Leatherwings*

          No, that is not appropriate either.

          And I’ve never seen a depiction of the crucifixion be as violent as what you’ve mentioned here, and I grew up Catholic. And c’mon there’s a pretty clear difference in a widely recognized symbol of a religion and a shot up stand-in for a human body.

        4. mrs__peel*

          Religious imagery on the office walls is also totally inappropriate in the workplace, unless you work directly for a religious employer (e.g., a church).

          A giant crucifix on the wall would get you an instant talking-to at every place I’ve ever worked, and probably dismissal if you didn’t take it down speedily.

    2. fposte*

      We don’t have publicly visible hockey punching or bleeding people on crucifixes at my workplace either, though, so it seems pretty even to me.

    3. Manders*

      I’d say there’s some nuance there–I wouldn’t have a problem with a picture of an MMA fighter posing, but I would take issue of an action shot with visible blood or a punch connecting with a face. Same with the superhero posters.

    4. Birdie*

      I’ve been trying to get my hands on some framed ‘Bloody Wednesday’ (famous Wings/Avalanche fight in 1997) paraphernalia for my office. Never thought twice about it potentially making someone uncomfortable.

    5. Amy The Rev*

      I mean, prominently hanging a crucifix in your cubicle would also likely be inappropriate in most (secular) workplaces, and any poster that depicts a bloody injury would likely be considered inappropriate as well. There are many things which are perfectly legal and folks may have understandable reasons to want to do, but it doesn’t make it automatically acceptable in the workplace. Like sweatpants. I love sweatpants. Wearing sweatpants doesn’t impede my productivity in any way, they’re comfortable, and plenty of people wear sweatpants to the gym, grocery store, movie theater, or just in their own home. Wearing sweatpants is an entirely reasonable thing to do, but it is still considered inappropriate attire for most workplaces, and we can make that the hill we want to die on if we want, and refuse to take any job that would frown upon wearing sweats to work, but most people are going to accept that they cannot wear sweatpants to the office, even though it’s quite reasonable when you break it down.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Man, I’d wear the hell out of sweatpants if they were work-appropriate.

        1. Amy The Rev*

          I have a pair of sneaky sweatpants, in that they look like generic work-appropriate trouser/pant material on the outside, and have a zipper/button closure and belt loops etc, and they look like tapered trousers/skinny pants (i.e they work for business casual but couldnt replace actual suit pants) BUT the INSIDE of the fabric is sweatpants material. They’re magical and I love them dearly and wear them to work whenever I have a particularly hard time getting out of bed in the morning…

            1. Temperance*

              There absolutely is – I’ve seen ads for it. I think it’s made by the Pajama Jeans people. Or Yoga Jeans or whatever they’re called.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Man, this is one thing I don’t envy women for. Your pockets suck.

                On the flipside, you do get to carry purses. I feel like a purse would be handy.

      2. Jaguar*

        Right, but then we have leggings, which are somehow acceptable (at least in certain workplaces).

        My concern is twofold:

        First, that the rule is unevenly applied. Nobody is going to report you for having a comic book poster hung up.

        Second, that this is entirely a coworker problem and not an OP problem. I’m not comfortable with the idea that people who enjoy shooting at a range have to keep their (perfectly fine) hobby sequestered because of hypothetical offense and espeically not if the rule is unevenly applied. Many more people practice violence against significantly more human-appearing targets in video games and we recognize the false equivalency of comparing that to actual violence – someone who plays Grand Theft Auto as a sociopath is not a sociopath. OP has some baggage here, and I think a much more civil and adult way of handling it is approaching the coworker in question and talking to them about it. If people aren’t willing to do that, they shouldn’t expect the entire environment around them to change to suit them. They’re cutting out that vital step of talking to the person and it’s a step that gets cut out way, way too often.

          1. Jaguar*

            Sure. But the question isn’t can we apply this rule, it’s should we. I strongly disagree with the idea that target practice is something you can’t advertise but religion/violent media/whatever is something you can. OP’s (and many other commenter’s) reaction to this seem way over the top and I suspect it’s due to not being exposed to how benign a hobby this is. That’s not a good arguming for banning displays of the hobby when other violent hobbies that people are more comfortable with. If someone was (somehow) unfamiliar with Christian iconography and found a depiction of someone suffering a crucificixion in someone else’s environment, they would probably find that really shocking. Who is at fault here? I would say nobody. Does a rule need to be made to fix that problem? I would say no.

            If something upsets you, talk to the person about it.

            1. Amy The Rev*

              Actually I’m seeing most posters here (and the response to the guy who came in dressed as jesus) arguing that religion/violent media is *not* appropriate for the workplace. Plus, the vast majority of comments here aren’t saying that folks shouldn’t have *any* displays of their shooting hobby (most people said a marksmanship trophy would seem odd but wouldnt make them uncomfortable), they’re saying that violent images (human silhouette with bullet holes in the head) don’t belong at work.

              1. Leatherwings*

                +1. Literally zero people are saying it’s fine to have violent media. Jaguar, you can nitpick that if you want (there are *always* what-if scenarios about specific violent media) but by and large that’s not at all what people are saying.

                And by your own admission people aren’t unfamiliar with Christian imagery so that’s not viewed as violent because it has different cultural context. Cultural context is important here, not violent imagery in the abstract.

              2. Jaguar*

                Right, to which I would say fair enough* if that’s the standard. But it’s not in practice. Loads of people have posters, computer wallpapers, etc. depicting things that, taken out of context, are quite violent. Given that reality, I think OP (or anyone) should re-examine their own assumptions about seeing something and if they still are uncomfortable with it, then talk to the individual about it to try and understand it. Only then can you start talking about asking for it’s removal (and hopefully you would try to work something out with the individual without getting management or HR involved). Jumping directly to this-is-wrong-and-make-it-go-away is a bad mindset to have.

                *That said, I disagree with the AAM consesus. Banning anything “violent” seems really infantalizing to me. We’re okay with high school kids wearing t-shirts depicting violence to school but Heaven forbid an adult does?

                1. Emi.*

                  We’re okay with high school kids wearing t-shirts depicting violence to school but Heaven forbid an adult does

                  Well, when highschoolers do that, I question their judgment too. And if they were my highschoolers, I would make them wear something else.

                2. Amy The Rev*

                  Where did you go to High School? Even my *public* high school had a dress code that specifically banned clothing with violent or sexualized images….

                3. mrs__peel*

                  Being required to show professionalism at work is not “infantilizing”. These kinds of rules are about showing a bare minimum of respect and empathy for your co-workers, and providing an environment where people can get on with their jobs without distractions.

                  Work isn’t supposed to be a showcase for your self-expression. You can do that on your own time.

                4. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  “I suspect it’s due to not being exposed to how benign a hobby this is” you say above.
                  But plenty of gun owners have piped up to say that violent imagery is not ok at work. I don’t think your suspicion is in line with the comments here, actually.

                  Also, – what is infantilizing about saying violent imagery is not appropriate for the workplace? You know what else isn’t appropriate at my workplace? Pajamas. Do I get to complain that they are infantilizing me to make me come wearing actual pants? There are professional norms at workplaces, and we follow them. They cover things like general expectations for dress; topics of discussion (see, ie, the posts on this blog about not ranting to coworkers about politics); what is okay to have in your office (no porn! no pictures of violence!).

                5. Leatherwings*

                  Practically every high school in the country is going to have an issue with violent imagery on a tshirt.

                  I don’t understand why having general guidelines about what’s appropriate at work is infantilizing. Are all rules infantilizing, or just ones around violence? And why is it so so important to you that people are able to make others uncomfortable in order to display images related to violence?

                  I genuinely do not understand why this is your hill.

            2. fposte*

              I think the OP’s reaction is over the top too, but you’re arguing against an inconsistency I haven’t seen anybody here advocate.

              1. The OP*

                I find it strange that so many of you find my reaction over the top when that reaction amounted to “Wow, that makes me uncomfortable. I wonder if it’s just because I hate guns or if it’s actually completely inappropriate. I will write to AAM and ask.”

                1. fposte*

                  You characterized this person as saying, “Hey coworkers, just want you all to know that I can make a headshot from 80 yards. Also I love guns, which means I might carry one with me in the office!” I thought that was over the top, and I think it’s a legitimate read of that comment, because it was a pretty drastic take.

                  I don’t think it invalidates your question any, and maybe it means more of your opinion leaked through than you meant (and maybe it doesn’t mean that). But I think your reaction was phrased more strongly than you realize, and that’s what you’re getting some pushback on.

              2. Jaguar*

                Yeah, I’m not really responding to specific people here but rather the reality of the situation that video game / comic book / movie / sports / religion violence is not really objected to in the workplace within reason, so why should icons and representations of gun culture hobby be? If the general consensus here is that all should get painted with the same brush (which I’m not sure there is such a consensus), then I would object to that as well with a different argument.

                But, what I want to focus on instead is the message of talking to the person and giving yourself the opportunity to understand what’s happening before jumping to making rules of professional conduct. This is a step that gets skipped all the time in AAM comments (and, to be fair, I think dealing with issues in the abstract online as opposed to the realities of live human interaction plays a significant role in this). As you pointed out below, OP phrased a pretty extreme message the coworker was communicating, and talking to the coworker (not as in conflict resolution but as in, “hey, you’re into guns? I’ve always wondered about blah blah” inquiry) would be a million times better for everyone in most situations than getting bosses involved.

                1. Leatherwings*

                  Your premise is wrong dude. I cannot even imagine that someone putting up a GTA poster would ever be construed as appropriate. Everyone is universally saying that at their workplace and in general, nearly all violence is objected to in the workplace. There is room for some judgement, but in general that’s a rule that can mostly be applied.

                  And so you’re objecting to the idea that some violence is acceptable but not other violence, but if all violence were unacceptable you’d reject that too? So what’s the logical conclusion of that? Either your conclusion is that all violence is acceptable OR you’re just being contrary for the sake of it. Both of those positions are unnecessary and obnoxious.

                  And if your whole point here is that OP needs to have a discussion with the person who has hung their target practice and discuss the reasoning behind it, that’s an absurd standard. For one, the individual reasons don’t matter all that much. Nobody would ever ever ever be able to justify that to me regardless of what reasons are behind it. Things can objectively be inappropriate for the workplace regardless of intent.

                  If your point is that OP should ask the coworker who hung the target practice up to take it down herself rather than going to management or HR, fine. You win that argument.

                  But I don’t think that’s really your point because otherwise you wouldn’t have gone thirty rounds about grand theft auto and infantilizing rules and hockey posters.

                2. mrs__peel*

                  If someone is showing poor judgment in relation to anything involving guns and the workplace, there is NO way that I (5’2″ woman) am going to be confronting them directly.

                  Even if the overall chance is small that they’ll retaliate against me personally, I’m not taking it. I would be bringing any concerns to my supervisor or HR and letting them handle it, per their policies.

                3. Jaguar*

                  @mrs__peel, I can understand being uncomfortable about it, but I’m not talking about confronting someone about it, I’m talking about engaging someone. Talk to them about their hobby like a peer and try to understand their perspective the way you would discuss with them something harmless like waht they’re wearing or what they did over Christmas. Once a dialogue is opened up, it becomes much easier to ask them to do you the favour of not posting it in the office or sharing that it makes you uncomfortable.

                  I get that it can be scary or uncomfortable, but those are bad reasons to move right past talking to people. There being a less-than-zero chance of something bad happening is not an excuse for behaviour or lack there of. What is the difference between that or a group of 10 teenagers hanging around a 7-Eleven and getting the store / security / police to clear them out on the less-than-zero chance that they might be dangerous? I’m really against this idea that as long as there’s a rule in place, any disobedience of it entitles people to go right to the institution’s authorities with a clear conscience. Everyone has an investment in their society and certain standards of civility and understanding are the price of that investment. Your co-worker isn’t an enemy.

                4. Anon, has that fear thing*

                  @jaguar Please understand that a lot of things go into that comfort that enables someone to have the discussion you want them to. Of course in most situations that’ll be best. But in some situations it’s just not going to work. There are things I absolutely would not feel comfortable confronting someone about. As an example: I mentioned above that I was once assaulted – in most situations I’m not comfortable confronting someone making jokes about sexual assault, even though I realize full well that most people who do just don’t think about how harmful such jokes might be or think they’re “just joking” and that “just jokes” should be tolerated. It isn’t okay. And, particularly if I have no other context for the person or they otherwise make me uncomfortable, I’m not confronting them, I’m getting someone else to do it for me. Every time people consider confronting others, they have to make those types of considerations. I don’t know if OP or mrs____peel have personal history with gun violence, but that might well inform their comfort level.

                  There’s also the question of efficacy. If anything I’ve found gun people dismiss the opinion of those who don’t like guns in *any* conversation gun-related, and so I don’t know if the person hanging the sheets would be receptive (clearly, this doesn’t apply to all gun people – many on this thread are not behaving that way; it’s just in my personal experience with the pro-gun people I have met). Some people get unnecessarily emotional in certain conversations in ways they can’t control and they know that and so might not think themselves the right person to have that conversation. Some people are more effective writing than speaking. You’re insisting people should just have a discussion without considering why people might choose not to, when those reasons might be 100% valid.

                  If someone thinks there’s a chance they might be risking their safety in a given situation, don’t insist they should put themselves into that situation.

                5. Elsajeni*

                  video game / comic book / movie / sports / religion violence is not really objected to in the workplace within reason, so why should icons and representations of gun culture hobby be?

                  I think “within reason” is really a key phrase here, though! I haven’t read every comment, but most people seem to be agreeing that some representations of gun culture or hobby shooting would be okay — that it’s probably okay to put a marksmanship trophy on your shelf, or to have photos of you holding a gun or posing next to a target; that it’s borderline, but acceptable in some settings, to have hunting photos showing you with a dead animal or to have just the bullseye-style target on display; but that the human silhouette target is definitely over the line. That sounds exactly like “acceptable within reason” to me.

                6. Jaguar*

                  Anon, I understand that and appreciate that dealing with fear and discomfort is anywhere from uncomfortable to debilitating. Personally, I hate confrontations and go to great lengths to avoid them and displays of violence make me physically ill. But I’m also extremely worried about encouraging people, when they feel in some way potentially unsafe (as opposed to demonstrably unsafe, which is a different matter entirely) in a community, to seek out an authority to make them feel safer. There are so many problems with that, from making the person displaying target practice sheets take them down does nothing to actually decrease the odds of them being possible of workplace violence, to refusing to engage with people in your immediate communities, to seeing people in your community in terms of possible threats, to the authoritarian idea that you have a right to safe and that it’s someone else’s responsibility to enforce that.

                  I think people should question whether, if they see someone acting strange in their communities, are they the sort of person that offer them help or are they the sort of people that call the cops. I’m no saint in this regard, but I think I have the morality of it right, and there’s a noticable thread on this thread (and in the AAM community in a broader sense) that if you don’t like something and the employee handbook or rules of professional conduct or whatever backs you up, you can skip right over any involvement of yourself and go right to an authority figure. I think skipping the step of engaging with people is failing.

                7. mrs__peel*

                  @ Jaguar-

                  If *you* feel comfortable and safe engaging in those kinds of discussions, then by all means go ahead. That reflects a level of privilege that I don’t have, given my demographics and life experiences.

                  I’m guessing you haven’t had experience as a woman in the workplace dealing with guys who are “off” or unsettling. Most women I know have had experiences with guys like that, and it’s not AT ALL uncommon for seemingly minor things (e.g., requesting that someone do or not do X at work) to escalate into unsafe situations like stalking, harassment, etc. These are not rare or isolated incidents- women deal with them all the time. It’s completely understandable that many of us prioritize our safety, and prefer that situations like this be dealt with through official channels.

                  So, no, I’m not going to take a chance in “engaging” someone when literally all I know about them is that they’ve shown some weird judgment about guns and the workplace.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Lots and lots of rules are unevenly applied. These things are about the discretion of the workplace and the manager and the HR department and any other number of things. Not being able to apply a rule completely equally in all situations isn’t a good enough reason to dispense with the rule altogether.

          And we can all acknowledge that Grand Theft Auto isn’t appropriate at work, right? This isn’t about realized violence vs. harmless violence. This is about what is reasonable to expect people to do in the workplace. Not having shot-up stand ins for humans is a fine expectation and that’s not some special snowflake “everyone must adapt to me and my preferences” attitude.

        2. Amy The Rev*

          I don’t think it’s the idea that they used a human-shaped target at shooting practice, it’s that they hung it up prominently at work. I doubt anyone would get reported for a poster of Capt. America punching a Nazi, but they might get asked to take down a poster of one character cutting off the head of another character with lots of blood spurting everywhere. As far as I can tell, no one suggested *reporting* anyone, but the OP was just trying to get some perspective on if her instinct that it was inappropriate to have that type of image displayed at work was accurate or not.

    6. MommaTRex*

      The only time I can imagine seeing a bloody crucifix at work would be if I worked for a Catholic church or school. (And even then, a bloody one would surprise me; it’s more likely to focus on the suffering expression.)

      1. Jaguar*

        Well, I mean, it happens. I live in Vancouver which has one of (if not the) highest percentage of people reporting no religion (including myself). I’ve seen graphic Christian imagery at people’s workspaces multiple times. (To be clear, I’m not bothered by it at all)

    7. Leatherwings*

      Religious objects, blood and depictions of violence do not belong at work. I actually think that’s a fine standard that probably has a few exceptions that can be determined on a case-by-case basis. But generally, I think it’s fine to say that’s a standard.

      And using the term “intolerant” to describe the following conversation: “hey, what you’re displaying in the office is unnecessary and culturally inappropriate” really rubs me the wrong way. People are intolerant of LGBT people, or religions. Finding a display of your hobby that is based on shooting a human inappropriate is not the same as actual intolerance.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      You have a house where you are more than welcome to hang things. At the workplace, you should generally stick to fairly innocuous things like family pictures, trinkets, etc.

      1. Allison*

        Right, your cubicle doesn’t have to be an extension of your living room. People are and generally should be expected to keep their workspaces tasteful. If I put up anything, I’d think “Who is going to see this? How might they react? Is there a chance that a reasonable person would find this unsettling or obnoxious?”

        For example, I decorated my workspace for Halloween last year. I looooove Halloween decorations! Especially severed limbs with fake blood painted on them, and demon clowns, and creepy dolls, and extra scary monsters. But stuff like that would likely make someone uncomfortable, so I settled for a big spider web stretched all over the place, some fake candles, a skull, a rat, and a few other creepy but not disturbing or terrifying objects. That I promptly took down and put away the morning after Halloween.

    9. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I think there’s an ‘I do this’ difference. A shooting range target can be reasonably understood to belong to the individual displaying it. A commercial poster of a hockey player… not so much.

    10. AnonAnalyst*

      Maybe I have just worked in really restrictive places, but none of the things you have described would be acceptable anywhere I have ever worked.

      Moreover, I think the gun issue is a thorny one for work, at least in the U.S. given the increasing concerns of workplace violence and workplace shootings. I don’t think, given that backdrop, it is intolerant for people to be uncomfortable with imagery depicting people being shot in the head at work. Nor does it seem intolerant for companies to decide they just don’t want any gun-related stuff in the workplace.

      In this particular case, I would probably be okay with the target but I would not be okay with the human head silhouette. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to draw the line there. No one is saying you can’t display it at home or that you’re a bad person for going target shooting; they just don’t want to see a shot-up depiction of a human in the office. But they also don’t want to see bloody hockey players or a violent crucifixion image, and in many workplaces would similarly be asked to take those home.

  39. De Minimis*

    I grew up in a gun-friendly culture and this seems a little too much. As someone said earlier, the only exception would probably be a gun store/shooting range, a military installation, or someplace else where the job involves working with firearms.

  40. Aurion*

    I think the human silhouette one is outright inappropriate, because of its associations to humans as the target.

    The bulls-eye…eh. I think such a decoration is out of place for an office, and probably skirting the line of workplace propriety, but doesn’t draw up the discomfited feelings as much. I’m in Canada and the casual citizen carrying firearms is not a thing here, so the associations to danger and fear aren’t as visceral to me. However, I think it would be more appropriate to have a trophy or ribbon for marksmanship than an actual target, to remove the association one step further.

  41. Not Rebee*

    Maybe they’re archery targets. Depending on the arrow, it could look like a bullet hole, which would make it slightly less “I can shoot you in the head” and slightly more “recreational hobby”. I know some people do hunt with a bow, but I consider archery more recreational in nature than shooting a gun (even when you shoot guns purely as a hobby and don’t even carry one on you).

    1. fposte*

      If it’s a human image with weapon holes it, I don’t care if it’s archery, riflery, or knifery; it’s not appropriate to display in my unit.

    2. TL -*

      You can still kill people with a bow and arrow and indeed they were developed for the sole purpose of killing animals and people from a distance. A compound bow is more lethal than a BB gun.
      The human target is still inappropriate for work.

  42. she was a fast machine*

    Hell, I’m pretty pro-guns, and I live in Texas, and I think it’s waaaay over the line.

  43. LadyPhoenix*

    I am a nerd and a lover of nerdy things, especially anime. I express that by decorating my office with funko pops. I would NOT express it by hanging up a “waifu pillow” or my collection of adult comics.

    Dude can express his interests WITHOUT the possible implications of going postal: decals, trophies, possibly a stuffed animal (ymmv. Inthink a wall deer is outta the question), and photographs.

    This is just tacky, almost as tacky as the decal “Fat girls can’t jump” from WAYYYYY back (betcha the update was he lost his job).

    1. Manders*

      That’s a good comparison. Now that I think of it, most hobbies have a “whoa, too much for the office” point, no matter how tame they are; I’d congratulate a coworker on running a marathon, but I wouldn’t want to see pictures of blood running down their chest from chafed nipples. When your hobby has a violent or sexual component by design, you have to be extra thoughtful about what your coworkers want to see at work.

      1. fposte*

        That’s a really good point, and I would keep that in mind if I were a manager or HR talking to the employee, too.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ha! That post was my earliest memory of AaM! (not posting under this name, back then…)

  44. emma2*

    This might have to do with having grown up in a weird city, but while I would find the bulls eye target in the office very odd, I wouldn’t question it that much. However, the head silhouette is SO not okay. I know a lot of people just consider this a sport, but it is simulating shooting at someone’s head! I just find that horrifying.

  45. calibrachoa*

    I think that this is super inappropriate both from the gun violence is a massive issue in the US standpoint but also from a more practical standpoint – who the heck brings used sports equipment in the office and hangs it up?

  46. De Minimis*

    Come to think of it, the only trophies I recall seeing in the office were for things that were somehow work related [like for meeting some type of community fundraising goal, or for athletic events participated in as a company activity.]

  47. need to be anon*

    I worked for a company that had a workplace shooting, in my building.

    We still had security revisions and free counselors available a year after the fact. The mere idea that anyone would hang those in a visible space in the building (not even on the back of their own office door)… I would feel SO unsafe. And I think it would not be unreasonable for others to have negative reactions to them.

    Some things just don’t belong on your wall at work, and I’d put “shooting targets” right up there with “nude pinups.”

    1. Wrench Turner*

      “Some things just don’t belong on your wall at work, and I’d put “shooting targets” right up there with “nude pinups.” ”

      Yeah that right there, even from a blue collar bum like me, is about the best way I could put my discomfort with targets in the workplace. I’ll use that next time I see one.

  48. Goober*

    You have a view of guns and the hobby of sport shooting that isn’t based in reality. However, it’s a very, very common view, and that’s what makes it inappropriate to the workplace. Martial arts trophies aren’t really a good comparison, for reasons others have explained.

    A better comparison would be glamour photography (which includes nudes). To those who do that as a hobby, it’s art, with nothing sexual about it (and generally, it really is). To anyone else, it’s pervy. Nobody would complain about a framed photo of a landscape over someone’s desk, but a picture of a nude woman would bring out the pitchforks and torches, no matter how artistic, and no matter how innocent the intentions of the photographer.

    On a personal level, I think you might benefit from going to a range and taking a gun safety and shooting class. Most people who have no experience with guns find they are far more comfortable around people who sport shoot after they’ve learned how to handle one safely. Or maybe not. That’s your business.

    But it would still be wildly inappropriate to put up target sheets with bullet holes over one’s desk.

    1. Student*

      Guns are tools specifically for killing people, and I think you’re unjustifiably trying to minimize that important context here.

      And I gotta ask. Do you really, honestly believe people who do glamour photos of nudes are uninterested in the nude part of it, and regard it no different than landscapes? Because that is some serious denial, or a lousy attempt to manufacture supporting evidence for a bad argument. You going to tell me romance writers regard their material as no different than writing a math textbook or a historical documentary next, that the sexual content holds no special interest to them? Do you also honestly think that people who find guns to be a good hobby have no fascination with their killing potential?

      You’ve gotta be pulling my leg. There’s a reason that there are more gun hobbyists than stamp collectors – people are interested in the danger factor. There’s a reason there are more pictures on the internet of people in less-than-full-clothing than landscape photos. No reason to be ashamed about it all, or lie to people about it.

      1. Goober*

        I’ve known a number of people who are serious about the hobby. In fact, there are a couple of clubs in the area (it’s an expensive hobby, and it helps to share some of the fixed costs). Yeah, they attract the occasional perv, but they run them out, because it is art.

        Since I know these people, and you don’t, I’ll take my word for it over yours. Calling me names because you don’t understand a hobby you know nothing about won’t convince me of anything.

        1. Leatherwings*

          To be fair, claiming that because someone disagrees with you, they must be ignorant or otherwise “not based in reality” is pretty condescending.

      2. Art lover*

        I just wanna say, one of my best friends models for these types of shoots and no, they are not sexual. Yes, you occasionally get the odd pervert, but the point is a celebration of the human body and its beauty and is no more sexualized than Michelangelo’s David. Some people sexualize art like that, but sex isn’t the point. Maybe it’s cause I’m demisexual, but I can honestly say that I find nude art beautiful and not erotic.

    2. The OP*

      Considering that I purposely left out the specifics of my feelings on guns (because I wanted to avoid arguments like this) it’s pretty bold of you to say that my view is not based in reality. A lot of people here have made the leap that when I said I was uncomfortable when I saw the targets it meant that I was afraid that this coworker would shoot me. I was uncomfortable with it because I am anti-gun and really don’t like the idea that somebody in my office wants to advertise their shooting skills so much.

      If you can link me to some articles about people being killed in the course of taking nude photographs I will accept your comparison. And please, PLEASE do not suggest to people who don’t like guns that they should go to a gun range to see how fun and safe they actually are. It’s really insulting and patronizing.

      1. Goober*

        Actually, nude models do, in fact, get murdered from time to time, by amateur photographer psychos. Not common, but then, neither are amateur glamour photographers. And among gun owns, shooting sprees are exceptionally uncommon, as well.

        And I didn’t say you’d find guns fun or safe, only that you might – or might not – be more comfortable around people who sport shoot. I didn’t even suggest you do so, only that you might – or might not – benefit from doing so if you chose. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

        Your knee jerk overreaction to what I actually said, to the point of seeing something completely different, supports my view that you don’t know anything about guns, or about sport shooting culture. This is about you, not about the guy who shoots.

        And, again, your perspective is very, very common, and again, I agree that it is wildly inappropriate to have shot-up targets over one’s desk at work.

        1. The OP*

          I am asking you politely to please not make assumptions about what I do or do not know about a subject, and to please not suggest to a person who has stated multiple times that they are anti-gun that they might benefit from going to a shooting range. That’s like telling somebody who hates cigarettes to try going to a cigar club. Please respect this request and try to be more respectful of people with opposing points of view.

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          Are you suggesting that the rate of violence against nude models is comparable to that of gun violence?

          You made an assumption, that OP has no experience with guns, and reacted by suggesting she was disengaged from reality, which suggests that if she just knew what she was talking about she would feel differently. People can be equally informed and still have strong and contrasting opinions. Her specific experiences and feelings on guns, which she has declined to share, can outweigh your experience and feelings on guns. Suggesting that should she educate herself then she’ll surely come around is patronizing.

          And FWIW, I am well-acquainted with gun/sport shooting/hunting culture, and I share OP’s aversion.

      2. Mary Dempster*

        Actually, I was going to suggest the same, OP. It’s not infantilizing to suggest you become more familiar with something you’re not familiar with.

        Also, I don’t know how you think you specifically left out your feelings on guns, because it was clearer than a foghorn at 2am.

        1. The OP*

          I left out the specifics of why I am uncomfortable with guns, as I felt it would invite a gun control debate that I wasn’t interested in having.

          Suggesting that going to a gun range to become more familiar with something I’m not familiar with is not helpful, despite what I’m sure are good intentions. You’re suggesting that I purposely go to a place to become more comfortable with something I have a strong moral objection to. That is not ok with me. Please do not do it.

          1. Leatherwings*

            I have to agree with this, Mary. I grew up with guns and am not comfortable with them. It’s not because I’m not familiar with them, and suggesting I or anyone else go to a gun range is supremely unhelpful and doesn’t resolve the issue at hand.

            1. LadyPhoenix*

              The only time I could ever see something like this work is if this was a psychological experiment supervised by a LICENSED and QUALIFIED professional. Not some random stranger on the interwebs flippantly telling the OP “Oh just go to a shooting range and stop being hysterical.”

        2. TL -*

          Yeah, your opinions about guns came out very clear, OP; you weren’t coming off as neutral at all.
          There’s plenty of reasons to dislike guns and plenty of reasons to like them and if you don’t want to handle them, then you shouldn’t. Most people are agreeing that, regardless of gun comfort levels, the human silhouette was out of line, much like a porn poster would be.

          1. The OP*

            I didn’t say that I was hiding my opinion about guns. I said that I didn’t get into the specifics of my opinion on guns. Big difference. It’s like saying “I don’t like Lord of the Rings” instead of saying “I found Lord of the Rings to be overly long, boring and pointless. Also I find battle scenes deeply dull, and am put off by movies that use that much CGI.” One is expressing an opinion, the other is inviting a debate.

  49. Wrench Turner*

    Gun range targets as decoration are weird, but no different than a karate or MMA trophy (all based on violence to some degree) – the very definition of martial arts is violence as a sport (from dictionary dot com)
    Martial Art: noun
    1. Often, martial arts. any of the traditional forms of Asian self-defense or combat that utilize physical skill and coordination without weapons, as karate, aikido, judo, or kung fu, often practiced as sport.
    Guns make me feel a bit weird sometimes but trophies, targets, etc are not the guns themselves so don’t bother me at all. Teapot throwing, synchronized rice sifting, chocolate lifting trophies are all completely disconnected from violence so those wouldn’t be at all out of place to me.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Dictionary definitions really really really don’t get to the heart of the issue: a trophy depicting a little gold Karate person at the top of a trophy or on a certificate just does not hold the same cultural meaning as a human shaped paper riddled with bullet holes. Abstracting the definition and removing cultural context is silly and pointless.

  50. Sybil Fawlty*

    Does anyone think it matters what type of business it is?

    I live in a small southern town, my husband hunts, and we own guns. However, I wouldn’t allow anything involving guns to be on display at our office.

    My business serves vulnerable populations and that’s just the last image I want in a customer/family member’s mind while they are trying to decide whether to hire us.

    I could see it in a company providing security, or something where prowess with weapons might be a positive thing?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t think it matters, to be honest. And it might even be worse. Like, security is important but even security firms/the military don’t really like to brag about how many humans they’re able to shoot. That’s like a “necessary evil” in those lines of work.

    2. Erin*

      I was thinking the same thing. It depends on context. They’re are a lot more work environments than people think where this would be accecptable. If this was a sporting goods store and this was something shared at the firearms counter I wouldn’t bat an eye.
      I do enjoy shooting and target practice and I’ve shared photos with my former boss, who also had a similar interest, of targets I was proud of. I don’t see how a photo of a target is much different than an actual target. It would be like someone taking a picture of a billboard. If the billboard is enough to offend someone the photo of the billboard would do the same.

      1. Leatherwings*

        There’s a difference between sharing a photo with your boss though- someone you already know shares your interest – and displaying it for the entire office, clients and anyone else who walks through to see.

        In very few contexts is this material going to be appropriate for everyone who walks through to see. I also think the sporting good store example is a fallacy. We’re generally talking about businesses that are otherwise not related to guns or shooting. And even a few of those people have chimed in to say it’s not even appropriate there.

  51. Student*

    I work with dangerous chemicals and radioactive stuff, which also scare people. I don’t hang a radiation trefoil or a chemical hazard symbol in my cube as decoration because it would unnecessarily intimidate my co-workers.

    I’ve known a couple people who have done that in this field, and without exception they fall into two categories: (1) very immature people in their first job in this field, who view it as a symbol of their own accomplishments and haven’t thought through how others will view it or the potential for a misunderstanding – “kids” (2) people who want to scare and shock their co-workers – “tough guys”.

    The former need to be educated and told to take their symbols down. The latter need to be shown they aren’t the alpha male by a manager and told to take their symbols down. I won’t claim to know range-shooting culture, but I’d bet that the motivation for the behavior described by the OP is probably also in one of these two categories. Scaring co-workers is not a legitimate business activity in most occupations.

    Also, this kind of thing leads to the really weirdly specific training that everyone hates. Like building-wide requirements for a training module that explains why you should never put stuff marked with a radiation symbol in the break-room refrigerator.

    1. Emi.*

      building-wide requirements for a training module that explains why you should never put stuff marked with a radiation symbol in the break-room refrigerator

      That sounds terrible. I’m so sorry!

    2. Newby*

      That is really strange. Those symbols actually mean something. They are supposed to warn people that there is hazardous stuff at that location. Why on earth would someone hang them where these isn’t actually a radiation, chemical or biological hazard?! It’s not a joke and using it as one can create problems when you actually need people to be aware that they are around radiation.

    3. Mary Dempster*

      Wait, you work with dangerous, radioactive chemicals, and don’t put up a warning symbol because it might scare someone?

      I hope this is a joke and you don’t work in a laboratory of any kind. I’m not familiar with the laws surrounding it, but it just feels like indicating that the stuff you’re working with could kill/hurt/maim someone should be legally mandatory.

      1. fposte*

        I think you misread Student–she doesn’t use those symbols jokingly in decorations where they don’t apply, because their meaning is important.

  52. Casper Lives*

    Now I’m wondering about having a gun displayed in the office. My boss bought an ancient gun (not sure what, I think it needs powder) he is very proud of, and hung it on his private office wall. I don’t know if it works anymore. We’re a small law office in the south. I’m not bothered by the old gun. I wonder if clients are? He would take it home if anyone said anything.

    He also carries a gun at all times except to court, has a concealed carry permit, shoots as a hobby, and told us we can conceal carry in the office with a permit, but cannot carry openly because it could scare clients. Maybe it’s because I’m in the south, but as long as someone has training, concealed carry doesn’t bother me. It’s something to think about.

    1. Leatherwings*

      We’ve already covered the concealed carry permit thing in depth (Alison linked to it in her comment). But I think that an actual weapon (regardless of whether it works or not) is completely inappropriate in the workplace and I would not be pleased if I was a client.

      1. Casper Lives*

        Oops, I don’t want to start a discussion about concealed carry. I was trying to add context. All I have decorating my office is framed degrees to assure clients I really graduated law school, and two bland, company provided paintings. Personally, I wouldn’t hang anything that’s a weapon, religious, political, or…invoking violence like the human shaped target. He probably should take it down. I don’t feel comfortable suggesting that as the new person.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      If he kept ammunition for it, I’d be concerned. But as you describe it, I’d treat it as a historic relic more than functional weapon.

    3. Enginerd*

      depends on the age of the gun. If it was made prior to I believe 1914 (might be wrong on the year) it’s considered a historical relic and falls under completely different regulations.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        With those old guns the worst you have to worry about is someone hitting you over the head with it.

    4. A. Non*

      To me it’d make a substantial difference if it’s in a display case behind glass. A professional museum-type label would help too. That puts it in a ‘cool artifact’ context rather than a ‘cool weapon’ context, and helps ensure that it’s not going to get pointed at anyone. (Which is an intimidating and violent threat in its own right, even if you know damn well that the gun isn’t functional.)

      1. Leatherwings*

        This is fair. Then it’s more like art than anything else. I do see the material difference there.

  53. Ruby*

    I work in an industry where most of us have gun licence and know how to shoot. My job sometimes requires me to euthanase animals (if injured, sick or suffering) and like most of my colleagues I am on the gun register. Those of us on it take a fair bit of pride in our ability to drop something in a single shot (so as quickly and painlessly as possible) and hunting mags litter the office. The target would inspire mockery and the human head outline would pretty much insure that the person displaying them never touched a gun at work again.

  54. Noah*

    I’m also strongly anti-gun, and I agree 100% on the silhouette with the bullet holes in the head. I’m not so sure that being disturbed by the bull’s eye is reasonable, though. It just opens so many doors. What about a picture of a few people in hunting gear holding hunting rifles? What if they were holding bows and arrows instead? What about in paintball gear? What about having a small taxidermied animal? I think this could become awfully fraught awfully fast. But the one that implies bullet holes in a human head? That seems clearly out of line.

    1. fposte*

      I think our really interesting ideological discussion is threatening to overshadow the pragmatic workplace question. It’s not a fraught workplace question, because you judge based on the picture, its position, and other contextual elements, and only if actual pictures are posted–you don’t have to have a rule that will pre-approve and disapprove hypothetical office displays. It’s okay to go case by case and just say “That makes me uncomfortable–any chance you could take it down?” or “Is that within our cultural parameters?” or “That makes people uncomfortable–please keep those targets out of the office,” depending on who you are and who you’re talking to.

      1. LadyPhoenix*

        This conversation now makes me imagine a day AaM gets this leet:
        “Can I hang my trophy moose head at work?”

  55. sam Conklin*

    I’ve been with my company for over 14 years, and have changed desks, managers and team members several times. At one point, I had high walls, and the inside wall had a target sheet tacked up. I was proud of the score (92%) – it was the one I did to earn my concealed handgun license.

    You could not see it unless you walked out of my little office/desk. When I put it up, I did ask my immediate boss – and he told me it was okay, as long as his picture wasn’t on it.

    When I moved to a smaller desk (no high walls), it went home with me – there was no place to hang it discreetly.

  56. A. Non*

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that it can be helpful when an outsider reports something uncomfortable to HR. Sometimes there’s an elephant in the room that no-one in a group wants to address because they’ll be “making problems” and they’re relieved if someone outside the group brings the problem to HR’s attention and none of them have to be the bad guy. (I speak from personal experience.) I have no way of knowing if this situation is like that, obviously, but it’s a counterargument to the “it’s not my group, I don’t have any business saying anything” argument. I would not think the OP was a busybody if they wanted to mention this to HR and let HR decide if this is something the organization is okay with or not.

    1. mrs__peel*

      Yes, I’ve also seen this play out before. Especially when someone inside the group is afraid that they’re be personally identifiable if they go to HR, and might experience some retaliation.

  57. Penelope's Cat*

    Eh, this wouldn’t bother me in the least. My only passing shot would have been whether or not dude was a good shot.

  58. Tertia*

    I’ve only been to a gun range three times in my life, but each of them explicitly said that headshots were verboten and would get you kicked out. They were in three completely different parts of the US, so I figured that was standard range practice. I think it’s inappropriate no matter what, but the head thing adds an extra layer of creepy.

  59. Mirax*

    I grew up in families that used guns frequently. I’ve shot plenty of guns in my life, logged a couple hundred range hours, etc. But like I mentioned briefly upthread–I don’t care about the bullseye, but I’d absolutely find the human silhouette target inappropriate.

    In fact, I’d ask whoever I needed to to get it out of the office, even if that meant escalating to HR. It’s absolutely tactless. I’ve lost relatives to gun violence. I’d find it incredibly upsetting to come to work and see images of a person with bullet holes in them, even in silhouette. I don’t need to be reminded of this stuff in the office.

  60. SenatorMeathooks*

    I live an area of the country that is very pro-gun and lots of people shoot for sport and hunting. I absolutely agree that that is inappropriate for work.

  61. The OP*

    Thanks for your answer, Alison! It’s good to know that I wasn’t crazy to think it was inappropriate. And thanks to the commenters who offered follow-up advice. I would consider going to HR about it, but there are no HR reps in my office so it would probably be more trouble than it’s worth to get it resolved that way.

    1. A. Non*

      Hm, yeah. That does make it a bit more difficult. If you wanted to, it would be reasonable to approach someone senior and trusted in the organization, or someone who is in the chain of command for that area of the office. Your call if it makes you uncomfortable enough to speak up.

  62. kb*

    Moreso than any threat of danger, if I walked into an office with these on the wall, I’d think “weird power play.”
    I can see how someone wold just genuinely be excited about their hobby and hang these up like they would a fishing picture or pie-baking blue ribbon, but my mind first went to intimidation technique. It seems like in the OP’s case they were hanging at someone’s desk, not an office, so that changes my perception a little bit, since most people’s cube decorations are for themselves and not for guests/clients/coworkers.

    That all being said, the human-shaped target crosses the line of good taste in my mind. Again, I can totally see how a shooting enthusiast would just be excited and be desensitized to that imagery, but it’s a lot.

  63. David Frick, PhD*

    The only relevant issue is whether the display of a target creates a hostile work environment. The answer is probably yes, because many people who allow their feelings to dominate their penalties will “feel” threatened. This feeling is unfounded, but feelings most often are. The only “fair” solution is to prohibit all forms of self expression at the workplace. Sounds draconian, but it is the safest course for the company. To emphasize the point, I am rice sculpture phobic. Displays of rice-sculpture trophies causes me to become anxious and encourages me to contact the EEOC.

    1. Amy The Rev*

      More reductio ad absurdum…

      Something doesn’t have to be creating a “hostile work environment” to be inappropriate for the workplace. Wearing sweatpants to work is inappropriate, even though it is by all accounts, harmless and inoffensive and comfy. Most folks here are in agreement that there are many avenues for self-expression at work that don’t involve prominently displaying violent imagery. It’s not a case of Let Anyone Display Anything vs. Ban All Self-Expression. It’s about using your common sense to think about why certain images don’t belong at work.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        My boss got upset when I plastered every surface of my office in pictures Hanson cut out of old TigerBeat magazines. I tried to tell her that they were vintage and weren’t creating a hostile work environment so she couldn’t do anything about it, but she wouldn’t listen to me. Is that legal?

  64. PersephoneUnderground*

    I haven’t been able to read all 700ish comments, but I haven’t seen this angle posted yet so:
    “I unfortunately do not know who sits at the desk in question as they were not present at the meeting, so if I ultimately wanted to report it to somebody it wouldn’t really be feasible at this point.”<– That is completely not true! You have superiors who know whose desk that is. Report it to them and ask for it to be fixed- I would feel 100% uncomfortable around that sort of thing too, and it's not unreasonable to ask them to do something about it. They're managers. They can manage this.

    (Before anyone says- the management may know about it already, yes, but they might not feel a need to address it if no one has said they are bothered. Also I find "management hasn't done anything yet so must already know but not care" to be the classic diffusion of responsibility fallacy/psychological phenomenon, and doesn't actually hold water. If you report something they already know you haven't done any harm. But managers are busy and don't notice everything, or may not address something they notice unless it's specifically brought to their attention that it bothers people.)

  65. Unofficial Front of the House Manager*

    I am very pro-2a and have plans to learn how to shoot this year (as well as get a concealed carry permit). I’m not shy about my views. With that being said, I think it’s incredibly inappropriate to have your targets displayed at the workplace (unless you work at a range or a weapons shop). Not everyone has the same comfort level, and it’s a matter of professionalism in the workplace. There are a lot of hobbies and interests that are not appropriate areas of discussion for the workplace, and this is one of them.

  66. ThumbTypist*

    Huh. I hung my target up in my cube after my dad took me to the range for the first time. Didn’t think anything of it, it was a memory of a fun time like the picture and thank you card pinned up near it.

    I didn’t have any association with violence as I was just shooting a piece of paper, mostly it was a good arm workout.

    Guess I won’t do that again. I’d be mortified if it made anyone uncomfortable. I only post that to say my cluelessness isn’t excusable, but it certainly wasn’t an indicator of violent tendencies.

  67. MissDisplaced*

    I’m coming in late to this conversation, but my thoughts are this.
    The “bullseye” type target would not really make me bat an eye. Similar targets are used for archery, paintball and many other sporting type things. Heck, target shooting is still an Olympic sport (we had a gun range in the basement of my high school for this!) as well as any number of western-quickdraw type competitive shooting things people happen to do. So, in other words, I would view this as any other type of sporting “trophy” or accomplishment (such as hanging a ribbon).

    Now, the full-body target/headshot? No, not a very good thing to hang at work–it goes beyond the pale so to speak. I can see that making people uncomfortable as it directly implies a human (or animal).

  68. Looey*

    Is anyone else concerned about the doctor in #1 handing out sick notes willy-nilly for patients who are clearly faking? Surely that’s against their code of conduct? (Unless it’s Dr Nick from The Simpson)

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