There’s an almost humorous irony in the disparity between America’s obsession with the right to own lethal weapons, and its apparent concern for the safety of society at large. Americans regulate everything from driving to fortunetelling with requirements like licenses, registrations, and safety training courses, all supposedly in the name of public health and safety. Yet in more than half the states in the US, when buying from a private dealer, all that is required to buy a gun is proof of age 18 or older. There is no safety training required, no permits, background checks, or limits on the amount of ammunition you’re allowed to buy. Gun rights activists belligerently accuse gun control activists of wanting to rob the American people of their Constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms every time legislation is proposed attempting to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, while gun control activists unfairly place the blame on the other side every time there is a mass shooting. “From my cold, dead hands,” is a popular NRA slogan.
Neither side is right, because the problem is not simply whether to regulate the sale of guns. There are glaring inconsistencies in the arguments of both sides, but the real issue is the lack of willingness to compromise. Is it possible to find middle ground in this increasingly polarized social climate? How do we balance the rules of safety with the right to own weapons? Can we maintain a sense of humor while doing so?
This project uses photo illustrations to shed light on the irony in some of the most trivial things state governments choose to regulate, asking the viewer to bear in mind that these same states have also chosen to make guns available to anyone—anyone—over the age of 18. My goal in making these images is to call attention to the priorities that America has set as a nation, and to invite viewers to consider what the priorities of a nation say about the citizens themselves.Sophie Brill, 2017