Parkland Mothers Seen Embracing In Iconic Photo Are Now Divided On Gun Control

The two women now say they have differing opinions as the one year anniversary of the shooting approaches.

Activists and students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attend a rally at the Florida State Capitol building to address gun control on February 21, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida.
Don Juan Moore / Getty Images

The two women now say they have differing opinions as the one year anniversary of the shooting approaches.

Two mothers who were photographed embracing outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High during a mass school shooting now have different opinions when it comes to gun control laws, NBC News is reporting. On February 14, 2018, a gunman killed seventeen students and staff at the school. Now, the mothers pictured in the iconic photo have provided updates to the press as the one year anniversary of the shooting approaches. The pictures shows a red-headed Cathi Rush being comforted by a tall, blonde Mechelle Boyle.

Boyle has three children, but none attended the school. As for Rush, her son Brandon was still inside the school during the massacre. Through text messages, Brandon shared that he was hiding under a table. After numerous attempts to get in touch with him, Rush went without responses from him for almost an hour. The anguished mother had fallen to the ground screaming, and was picked up and cradled by a tearful acquaintance of hers — Boyle. Their kids had gone to the same elementary school, and Rush’s ex-husband coached Boyle’s son’s soccer team. The photo was plastered everywhere to show the world the high emotions that were running that horrible day.

Rush hated the photo at first — and felt that the photographer had intruded on her personal moment — but eventually began to use the photo as a symbol for the gun control cause. She had the photo printed on sweatshirts that her family — including her son, Brandon, who survived — wore to the March For Our Lives rally in Washington. They also carried a big banner bearing the image. While the bond that Rush and Boyle shared in that photo is real, they’ve lost touch as the year went on. Rush declined to be interviewed with Boyle, saying she disagreed with her on gun control.

Rush has become an advocate for stronger gun control laws since that traumatizing day, and has even attended meetings for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Boyle also attended meetings for Moms Demand Action, and while she does support stricter gun control laws in some respects — like putting laws in place that could prevent an 18-year-old from obtaining an AR-15 rifle — she’s for gun rights in general. Boyle served eight years in the military, and owns a gun herself.

“She was very upset at me because I was a little more pro-gun than her, and she wasn’t very happy about that,” Boyle said. “I definitely pushed for laws, and I definitely said we need stronger laws, but I guess for whatever reason we really didn’t stay friends on Facebook or anything.”

Still, Boyle and Rush certainly agree on one thing: these shootings should not be happening.

“The terror that we felt — I see it on my face every time I look at the picture,” Boyle said. “I don’t ever want any parents to feel that… watching them grieve and bury their children.”