“I Love Guns”
For his book and exhibition “The Ameriguns”, Gabriele Galimberti contacted on Instagram about 500 Americans whose accounts suggested they owned a large number of firearms, asking if he could photograph them. Roughly 50 of them invited him over.
Gun owners pose for performative portraits, surrounded by a carefully arranged choreography of guns in a wide range of states. They stand in their bedrooms, around swimming pools, in backyards and secret chambers. The selection includes people of various ethnicities and across the political spectrum, atheists and priests, gay and straight, men and women, sometimes accompanied by their children.
Somewhere in Southern Arizona is where Danyela D’Angelo, 16, keeps her treasure: hundreds of firearms, some one of a kind, historic WWII pieces, weapons of war, and prototypes that never made it to production. They are all locked away in a vault whose location the family does not wish to disclose, for security reasons.
“Compulsive buyers and serial collectors” is how Joel and Lynne define themselves. At 11 years old, their son walks around the house with a handgun he built on his own. As Lynne explains. “My passion really runs in the family. I remember my grandma chasing after me when I was going out, saying, ‘Take this gun or you’re not going anywhere’.”
In a dream mansion just outside of Las Vegas is where Robert Baldwin Jr. keeps his guns, behind a bulletproof showcase window looking like a mirror, so that, unless you turn on the lights inside, you can't see the collection at all. He is against any restrictions on owning weapons, although he does concede that “no private citizen should be able to have a nuclear warhead.”
Lake Forest, California. Eric Arnsberger worked eight years in the Army in various countries. “When I was a kid, I experienced all kinds of violence. I was stabbed, beaten up, robbed. Then I went to war. I saw what happens when someone else points a gun at you.” Morgan is a trainer in a gym, and she fell in love with him through following him on Instagram.
The neutrality of the captions, which include only facts and quotes from the interviews, allows the images to be read differently depending on who is looking at them. The project sparks strong debates following publications and social media posts, especially after mass shootings, but it also challenges some of the shared preconceptions about who might own firearms, and why.
Every two weeks, Will Renke buys a new firearm. How long he’s been doing this and how many guns he has, he prefers not to say. “My collection? It’s big. Really, really big.” His grandfather imparted another lesson, as well, about “the importance of safety and the knowledge that you never pull the trigger unless you know exactly what’s in front of you.”
When Jay arrived in Detroit from South Korea at age 7, he dove headlong into American culture as a way to overcome, at least in part, the other children’s mistrust. “I grew up in the ’80s, watching a ton of action movies. That’s where I got my fascination with guns.” Their son Jayden “ came shooting with me for the first time when he was 6, as soon as he was big enough to hold a pistol.”
Parker B. Fawbush is the pastor of his community in Poseville, Indiana. A shooting instructor, his social media accounts, where he reviews different firearms and teaches people how to use them, have large followings. “I use my guns as tools to teach people things about life. My posts are always accompanied by passages from the Scriptures.”
Huntsville, Alabama. Not many people can say they stopped a mass shooting, but Latoya Piper is one of them. She was working as a security guard at the entrance to a club. Two men began to argue, then one of them went back to his car, took out an AK-47 and tried to go into the club. Latoya fired and was able to stop him. The man did not die and Latoya called the first responders, who took him to the hospital.