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Justin Bieber poses with a pistol, and the Internet cringes

Singer Justin Bieber arrives for the TeenChoice 2012 awards in Los Angeles July 22, 2012.

Phil McCarten/Reuters

Anyone who is even slightly plugged in to current events knows about the overwhelmingly tragic, seemingly endless parade of mass shootings this summer. Guns are on everyone's mind as a serious crisis in Canada and the United States.

Everyone, that is, except maybe Justin Bieber. Photos of the baby-faced teen heartthrob wielding a fake hand gun, apparently to be funny, surfaced on Twitter today.

The fact that guns have caused such heartache and loss to so many this summer doesn't cross the little pistol-toting Biebs' mind, it seems, as he lodges the fake pistol into the belly of the smiling gentleman beside him – and as this blog points out, ruins a pretty cute photo of his squeeze, Selena Gomez.

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Sure, some Beliebers may argue he was just playing around on a movie set with his starlet girlfriend. But the kid is a role model – he has 27 million followers on Twitter – and it's a role he has seemingly embraced until now.

(Full disclosure: I watched 'Never Say Never' about a year ago, and totally picked up what the Biebs was putting down. Even if you can't stand his music, the 'small-town Ontario kid makes it big time' thing was pretty inspiring. And okay, even fuller disclosure, this mash-up has been stuck in my head for weeks.)

This is just the most recent gaffe in a rapidly-growing list of dangerously close to early Lindsay Lohan's moments. Remember the ignorance-fuelled quote in the August issue of Rolling Stone, where he claimed to be 'Indian enough' to get free gas in Canada?

And Bieber's frat boy behaviour – including punching fellow musicians in the crotch – reported in the New Yorker's profile of Scooter Braun, 'a camp counsellor to pop stars,' didn't do him any favours.

And what have we got here? A half-naked Biebs in bed this afternoon, tweeting a photo of his new tattoo. Ugh.

Yes – before you say it – there are other worldly events to be concerned about, and Biebs with a gun certainly isn't the top story of the day. But his apparent nosedive into ignorant, insensitive, man-boy territory has the Internet (once his biggest fan) cringing.

Justin, you're better than this. (An undeniable fact after watching this heart-melting clip.)

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So, man up: Apologize for the stupid pistol pictures, never punch a man in the genitals again and start reading the news a little. By all means, grow up and grow out of your boy-next-door thing . But don't grow into a stereotype.

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Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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