Rebekah (18) stands in the game room of her family home with two revolver pistols that once belonged to her great grandfather. She has about 10 years experience with guns and predominately uses guns to protect her family's farm from unwanted rodents, such as water moccasins, snapping turtles, possums and pigeons.
Andrew holds his handgun in front of a lemon tree in the backyard of his friend's house in Houston, Texas. He received his first gun when he was 14 years old and has since bought, sold, and traded ten different pieces, but currently he only owns four guns. Andrew says, 'I mostly like guns for hunting and to protect the family. It's also fun to just get better at shooting in general since it's a challenge.'
Meaghan (21) stands outside her family home with a revolver pistol that was her grandfather's. She was first introduced to guns by her older brother for recreational shooting when she was seven years old .
Taylor (22) and Gary, American father and daughter, pose in their living room with their favorite guns. Taylor and Gary both enjoy guns and hunting. Hunting for the two of them is a father-daughter bonding experience. When Taylor was 13, Gary began teaching her how to hunt and it has became her favorite pastime since. Gary is a National Rifle Association (NRA) certified firearms instructor and a certified conceal carry permit instructor. He carries a gun with him every day for self protection and to exercise his constitutional right to bear arms. Responsible gun ownership is a pastime that has united father and daughter.
Ralea (12) stands in the living room of her family home with a rifle. She has been shooting guns for a few years and currently competes in skeet shooting competitions as a member of the Oklahoma Junior High School Rodeo Association skeet shooting team. Ralea is scheduled to compete at the national competition in the summer of 2015.
Alex holds his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun outside his house in Houston, Texas. He bought the shotgun for duck hunting and home protection, but received his first gun in 2013 when his father passed down his rifles to him and his brother Kevin. Between the two brothers, they own a total of five guns.
Laverne stands holding her handgun in her dining room. This is the gun that she has carried for over 25 years during her time as a police officer. She is now retired and carries the same gun with her daily for self protection.
Taylor (22) poses in the living of her family home with a small handgun passed down from her grandfather. She has been around guns from early childhood, as her father is an avid gun collector. Taylor primarily uses guns for hunting with her father. She plans to apply for her conceal carry license in the near future and will then carry a handgun with her for self protection. Taylor says the key to gun safety is 'always handle a weapon like it is loaded. Guns are not toys, they are dangerous and must be handled with responsibility'.
Kevin holds his Remington 30-06 in front of his house in Houston, Texas. Kevin and his brother Alex received their first guns in 2013 when their father passed down rifles to them. Between the two brothers, they own a combined five guns.
Tom, 61, stands with his grandfather's Winchester 1894. His grandfather bought the gun for $34.20 from a hardware store in 1929. Tom says he has over 100 guns in his house now, but got his first gun when he was nine because he says that 'everyone was hunting in south Texas where he grew up'. Tom works as an archeologist and claims to be one of the only historic munitions analysts in the state of Texas.
Patricia has been around guns from the time she was five or six years old. Her father began teaching her 'to respect guns and not treat them as toys' at an early age. Guns have been an aspect of her life as long as she can remember. She now uses guns as a recreational past time with her friends to go skeet shooting, as well as for self protection. She sits in her home with a pistol she carries with her as part of her conceal carry license used to protect herself and her home.
63-year-old Mr. Cruz with his shotgun and handgun. Mr. Cruz is an immigrant from the Philippines and has owned guns his entire life. His first guns were a .22 and .45 he owned while living in the Philippines as a young man. He says he needs them to protect himself and his family. A few years ago a robber put a gun to his daughter's head on the street outside Mr. Cruz's house. He says this incident prompted him to get a conceal and carry license, and he now carries a weapon with him at all times. 'Someone comes in the house, either they’re dead or I’m dead but I’ll make sure they’re dead', says Mr. Cruz. 'A lot of people are carrying guns and not trouble-makers; they just like to have it to protect themselves.'
Diana sits on the sofa of her house with a gun she predominately uses for home protection. Her father introduced her to guns at an early age. She mostly uses guns for hunting. Diana does not believe in hunting as a sport, she feels any animal she or a family member kills, must be eaten. The animal hide on her table is of a bobcat her son shot.
Margret stands in front of the gun collection she shared with her late husband. She stands holding her weapon of choice, a pistol. Margret has been around guns since she was six years old. Her father taught her proper gun etiquette and marksmanship. She now predominately uses her pistol for self protection and home defense.
Sam (53) stands in the living room of his home in Oklahoma. Sam has been exposed to guns all of his life and feels very comfortable around guns. He mainly uses his gun for home defense and protecting the farm from unwanted animals. He also teaches his four children gun safety and proper gun ownership. All of the children are comfortable around guns with Sam's guidance.
Frank, a German-American, stands with his 9mm hand gun he carries with him as a result of his conceal carry license. Prior to moving to the United States, he had little exposure to guns. It was not legal for Frank to obtain a gun while he was living in Germany. In the past few years, Frank has become a strong advocate for the conceal and open carry laws of Oklahoma.
My Gun and I
The Second Amendment is one of the most fiercely contested parts of the Bill of Rights, and indeed the entire United States Constitution on which America is founded. It reads, in its entirety: 'A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.' This simple line is the ideological foundation for the popular American belief in the right to privately own firearms. As part of America's cultural and political heritage, this belief is an inherent part of national identity for many Americans, and any deviation is viewed as a personal and communal failure to maintain the country's individualistic values, and a fundamental transgression against what America's founding fathers envisioned her to be.
Various estimates put the number of firearms in America between 270 and 320 million, which averages out to almost one gun for every single man, woman and child in the county. Gun laws vary greatly from state to state, and restrict a variety of aspects of gun ownership including, but not limited to, who can buy a gun, what kind of guns can be purchased and where guns can be carried. For example, California bans private ownership of assault rifles, but across the border in Arizona there are no similar restrictions. In Vermont, someone can buy a handgun at the age of 16, but a few hours away, in Connecticut, that same person wouldn't be able to buy that same gun for another five years. People can buy guns from private sellers, individuals, and even large shopping centres like Wal-Mart or Bass Pro Shop. Despite a multitude of regulations on the types of guns people can buy, it is possible and frequently legal to purchase fully automatic and large caliber guns in many places across America. In some states a person can simply walk into a store and walk out an hour later with the gun and ammunition of their choice.
Every American gun owner has his or her personal reasons for owning a firearm. Some people are collectors and enjoy the unique qualities and craftsmanship of the guns. To others, firearms are family heirlooms passed down through generations like an item of jewellery. Many people enjoy the sport and challenge of shooting, and treat marksmanship as a valuable skill to be learned or mastered. There are shooting ranges across the country where people can rent guns (or bring their own) and buy ammunition to shoot at targets. However, according to the Pew Research Center’s national survey published in March 2013, the two most popular reasons for Americans to own firearms are for personal protection and hunting. Some Americans keep guns around their house, carry them on their person, or keep them in their cars in the event they may need to protect themselves or their property. Hunting, on the other hand, is a personal and cultural tradition in many parts of America, and one that millions of Americans engage in every year.