Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Books: Armed America

When I first heard about "Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes," I thought it would be a hatchet job, made to stereotype gun owners as kooky or unhinged. After all, the media has had little success in convincing people that owning a gun is actually dangerous (just look at the many discredited studies littering academia); the other logical step is to stigmatize firearms ownership itself.

The book, written and illustrated by photographer Kyle Cassidy, has a simple premise - show gun owners in their homes, and relate why each person owns them. Cassidy tries to be neutral, although he claimed not to know any gunowners at the start of the project (really? not a single person?), something that's probably only possible if you live in an urban area. On the whole, though, everyone seems to be portrayed fairly, which is laudable in and of itself.

Most of the pictures are pretty good portraits, and the individual reasons for owning a gun are as varied as the people who own them. There's no manufactured drama here - I appreciate that Cassidy doesn't have pictures where people point their guns directly at the camera or other such foolishness. All in all, it's worth picking up.


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