Friday, April 20, 2007

Armed America

Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes
by Kyle Cassidy

At a dinner party in 2004 I found myself sitting next to a former presidential campaign staffer. Conversation fell to the election and he mentioned that part of his job had been to help wrangle the "gun vote" — which I found fascinating. I’d never really thought about the "gun vote" much less how it would be wrangled. And indeed, this turned out to be a murky area, even for professionals. Nobody was exactly sure how big "the gun vote" was, all anybody could do was guess. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s largest pro-gun lobbying group, quotes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE)’s estimate that in 1999 there were about 215,000,000 guns in America and at least one gun in about half of the households in the country. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (the nation’s leading anti-gun coalition) estimates there are 192,000,000 guns in America, owned by 39% of the population.

Whether it’s 39% or 50% of Americans, it’s still an awful lot of people. I started wondering just who they were, what they looked like, and how they lived. And there, somewhere between the main course and desert, was the genesis of this project.

from the introduction of Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes (208 pages, hardback)

Dan and his Mossberg Model 88, Bushmaster AR-15, Rock Island Armory / Sendra M16, Remington 700 PSS,
Springfield XD, FN Five-seveN, H&K USP, Sig Sauer P226, Colt Commander 1911, and Glock 22

Dan: I consider the ownership of arms not only a right, but the duty of a free people to themselves and future generations.

Stan with his Taurus PT38s .38 Super

I think everybody should have a gun. It levels the playing field.

Joseph with his Remmington Model 700, 7mm Magnum

Joe: "The first time I was introduced to guns was when I was 5 years old; hunting with my dad, grandfather and uncle. I remember my dad shooting a ringneck pheasant and a rabbit. I carried those two animals until I thought my arms were going to fall off. As a little guy, that made a great impression on me. I've hunted all of my life; in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Colorado and Maine. I have a tremendous respect for life, especially wildlife. It never ceases to amaze me how much satisfaction I get from just simply being in the Great Outdoors, whether I make a kill or not."

Bashir, his Bushmaster CAR-15 and Cisco

Bashir: I just think it's a good thing to have.

Beth, Paul, Gavin and Emma
AK-47, Bersa .380, Ruger P345

Paul: My family had guns the whole time I was a kid. then i went off and joined the army and went away and come back. I have guns now largely for the same reason I have fire extinguishers in the house and spare tires in the car. I'm a self reliant kind of guy. and there could come a time when I need to protect my family and i'm a self reliant kind of guy.

Beth: I have one for self protection. I was raised to never rely on anyone else to protect me or watch my back. It took me a year to pick out one that I liked.


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