Saturday, December 22, 2007

Armed America

Looking for a nice, controversial topic to throw out at the dinner table this holiday? How about gun ownership? Regardless of which 'side' they're on, people are rarely indifferent about the subject. If you would like to get a broad overview of the average American gun owner, you could look at a new book Armed America: portraits of gun owners in their homes. This is not a scientific sampling of gun owners; there are plenty of people who own guns but might not feel comfortable having their picture published holding one. But photographer Kyle Cassidy spent two years criss-crossing the United States looking for gun owners willing to pose with their weapons and answer the question "Why do you own a gun?". The answers are very interesting. Some guns are family mementos, others are collectors items. Some are for hunting or target practice, while others are kept as a matter of principle. Many, many people in this book keep them for self-defense: either against their neighbors or against the government. Another interesting aspect of the book is the backdrop of each picture - generally the living room. It's a snapshot glimpse into someone else's life, and it becomes so easy to try and look for clues to their personality hidden in the books on their shelves, the art on their walls, even the type of pets they keep. This is a very voyeuristic book and you can't help but wonder if the subjects are happy with the persona they project, or are even aware of interesting look at America as a whole, and not just gun owners.

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