EDIT (thanks anonymous translator!):
Frighteningly nice families
American Kyle Cassidy traveled for two years through the USA and photographed his countrymen with their weapons
The land is armed to the teeth. One out of every two families in the USA owns pistols or rifles, 270 million guns sit in closets and night table drawers. For two years photographer Kyle Cassidy, 40, from Philadelphia traveled through his homeland in order to find the answer to a single question: “why do you own a gun?” Hunters and would-be mafiosos answered him as did fathers who wanted to protect their children. For Cassidy’s photo-book “Armed America” (Krause Publications, 30 US dollars) they posed with arsenals, enough to serve an army in the field. Along with armed fools in camo and evil(?) stares, Cassidy also photographed smiling parents with hunting dogs, children and locked gun cases(?).
SZ: Mr Cassidy, you have traveled 15000 miles in order to ask your country’s people about their love of guns. Do you own a gun?
Cassidy: When I began this project, I didn’t have one. I was terribly unprepared (?) Everyone I wanted to photograph asked me this very question, and all were rather bothered I didn't. And after six months I still didn’t have a single photo. After I bought a gun for myself, it was much easier. I also read books about guns, and magazine articles because I wanted to be able to have knowledgable discussions.
SZ: Was it worth the effort?
Cassidy: One of the finest gifts of the photographer is to open doors to strange places. I wanted to show who these people were and what kind of life they lived. I wanted people to observe the pictures and see: here is a family with their dog and their cat and their book shelves that had shown me into their living rooms and explained why they owned guns. My hope is that two people with completely different ideas will stand next to each other in an art gallery and discuss the pictures.
SZ: which of the answers to your question surprised you the most?
Cassidy: The interpretation someone provides hangs heavily on their own world view. I am a vegetarian, so I find hunting not personally a persuasive reason to own a gun. It was different for a man in Arizona, whose son was to be sent to Iraq. The father bought an AK-47 because he feared that his son could find himself in a situation where the only weapon he could find would be that of the Iraqis. He wanted his son to be able to defend himself. I found that moving.
SZ: A lot of the pictured gun owners seem very nice. Others, like those wrapped up in camouflage, rather horrifying. Or at least strange.
Cassidy: the understanding of ‘strange’ has a lot to do with your origins. Where I live in West Philadelphia you don’t bat an eye at the pink-haired or the tattoo-wearing. But if you hang a deer’s head on the wall, that’s bizarre. In other places it’s completely opposite. A few years ago I was in Egypt: my hosts there thought I was completely crazy because I didn’t want to eat meat.
SZ: the USA is a land covered in guns: nowhere in the world are there more weapons per capita. Shouldn’t that make us afraid?
Cassidy: If you're asking me if I think that American civilians will pack up their guns, rent boats and invade Europe, I think you're safe. What you must fear from America is the lifestyle we are exporting. The likelihood that you will be shot by an American is almost nil. More realistic is the danger of heart attack because you eat American fast food while lounging on your sofa watching “Desperate Housewives”.