Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Friday, July 20, 2007

Armed America2

I've got two books coming in the mail with quite similar titles. The first is Clayton Cramer's rebuttal to Michael Bellesiles' discredited text, the second is a coffee-table book of portraits. Clayton's book is entitled Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie, the second is entitled Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes.

As Clayton is a well-known supporter of the Second Amendment, I expect no surprises from his book other those resulting from his typical exhaustive scholarship. The second book I've known about for a while now, as the author/photographer has been working on it for over two years and links to his book web site and photos like this one have been common at places like I stumbled across his YouTube promotional video earlier today. I hadn't realized the book was finished.

During the time when he was posting his photos, I wondered what the end result would be, and what it would engender in the public (if anything). It would appear that the result is not negative in the least. At the moment there are 14 comments about the book at, and a few reviews from such diverse people as Jim Petzal of Field and Stream:
...when I opened a package the other day and saw a book inside called America Armed: Portraits of Gun Owners in their Homes, what came to mind was the acronym BOHICA—Bend over; here it comes again.

But I was wrong. This coffee-table book is the child of Krause Publications, which puts out (via its imprint F+W Publications) the Gun Digest. So it seemed highly unlikely that they would be doing a hatchet job on us. And they didn't. What we have here folks, between two covers, is that greatest of rarities, a fair picture of who owns guns.
and The New Homemaker:
Avery, Miles, Gregg and Theresa from Arizona chose to pose with their dog Ginny, two AR-15s, an M1 Garand and supressed Ruger 10-22's for the boys. In their kitchen. Barefoot. Says Gregg: " time out of a 101 where having a gun would have meant saving your own child – you would sell your soul, or trade everything you have to do that."
There are some telling quotes from the reviews as well. "A. Justice" writes one of the more predictable:
I hope this book brings insight and provokes discussion on both sides of the subject because like it or not, we are all americans and have an obligation to look out for each other as well as ourselves.

Your government is not capable of protecting you every moment of your life nor is it obligated to do so. Those of us who are responsibly armed may have an opportunity to help, but the only one who can ensure your own safety is you, and that goes far beyond just owning a firearm.

As I said, this book captures a glimpse of a private part of the daily lives of many americans that has become far too controversial and vilified by many who dont understand their own rights and responsibilities as citizens of this once great country.
But this one surprised me as much as the book surprised him/her. "Spleen" wrote:
I am embarrassed that I started out with such a small-minded view of gun ownership. I thought I was against guns and seeing pictures of them was viscerally disturbing them to me. However, reading what people actually had to say about their gun ownership did make me open my mind on the issue.

I appreciate that the book portrays first and foremost the people and does not slant or objectify them (there is no political agenda) which leaves me able to digest the contents for myself.
William D. Nelsch wrote:
It reached me on so many different levels: the 'familial' based on one of our LUG family creating a masterpiece; the photographic, based on the technique in achieving the images - bounce flash, rear fill flash, and the inadvertent (?) self portrait on page 127; the contextual notion that the Second Amendment (I am a left wing Democrat, christian more of an Episcobuddhist, anti-war, anti-violence, etc. ) must be always enforced, and in light of the recent idiocy in the WH seems ever more important; and finally the sub-context of all of the animals is just delightful.

This is so much different, and better, than what I had expected after reviewing the online images. Seeing the images in print form allows for so much more detail; the messiness/neatness of the subject environs; the additional items, or lack thereof, in their living areas adds so much more to the meaning of each photo. I can't help but wonder how much of the shoot was staged vs. their actual environment. And the captures of the animals are priceless. This was no easy task.

I was also struck by the verbosity or lack thereof of the subjects when commenting on their gun ownership and what stuck me most was the argument that the Second Amendment, like all of the Amendments, must be upheld against the moneyed interest purchasing politicians attempting to take away ANY freedoms. This is akin to the NRA, ACLU and Sierra club all agreeing on the same thing.

I don't like guns. I was going to say I don't have any guns but that isn't exactly true - I have an old flintlock from the Spanish American war that belonged to a relative of mine standing in the corner of my living room. Why? It just looks neat. This book doesn't necessarily change my need to have or not have guns but it does cause me to rethink any notion of banning guns.
Mouth. Hangs. Agape.

What has Kyle Cassidy wrought here?

Another comment, this one from James M. Safley:
This is an important book. It makes no editorial statement, proffers no venomous rhetoric. It simply puts a human face on the typically abstract and much maligned "gun owner." They are our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers. We normally would not fear these people, so why should we fear them with guns?
Or this one by Jennifer A. Summerfield:
As someone who has always regarded guns with apprehension and never considered firing one, let alone owning one, "Armed America" has forced me to reconsider my stance. There is such a broad cross-section of the American population represented that each page seems to bring a different revelation. The fact that the subjects are allowed to speak for themselves, their words printed below their image, allows you to draw your own conclusions, without the photographer's own views, (which remain a mystery,) getting in the way.

It's a fascinating document of American culture... both past and present... and in turning each page, you feel you're on a journey with the photographer, rediscovering this vast, complex country.
If it can do that, I had to buy a copy. You might want to consider buying one too.

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