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Clearly, TTAG reader and gun blogger Mikeb30200 hasn’t perused Zed Nelson’s coffee table classic Gun Nation. Otherwise Mikeb wouldn’t have been so impressed by the Huffington Post’s condescending collection of derisory images entitled Why Is That Gun There? The Most Ridiculous Firearm Owners Ever (PHOTOS). The HuffPo’s pictorial polemic is the worst kind of Bill O’Reilly / Rachel Maddow-style commentary: nasty, close-minded, low-quality, anti-intellectual tripe that invites its consumers to bask in their righteousness by pissing on their opponents. In comparison, Nelson’s work is genuinely thought provoking. [Sample Image above.] provides an excellent description of Gun Nation’s gestalt, with one important caveat . . .

This hard-hitting visual essay, shot throughout the United States over a three-year period, shows how deeply guns are ingrained in the American way of life. Haunting photographs of ordinary people living ordinary lives reveal a world where firearms have become as American as apple pie, where Magnums and Uzis replace pitchforks and bibles as national symbols of freedom; here large sectors of society are as naked without their weapons as they’d be without their cars. With crazed day traders and resentful adolescents mowing down large numbers of their fellow citizens every few weeks, and a death toll of over 30,000 US citizens killed by gunfire every year, these images provide a disturbing insight into a culture saturated with weaponry, and raise serious questions about every American’s cherished ‘right to bear arms’.

You catch that? The reviewer couldn’t resist imposing his or her political perspective on Nelson’s work. Amazon‘s house reviewer does exactly the same thing:

“Guns seem to have followed me around most of my working life,” writes award-winning British photojournalist Zed Nelson, who has covered armed conflict in Afghanistan, Somalia, El Salvador and elsewhere, before photographing U.S. guns and gun owners. Gun Nation, a collection of 103 of Nelson’s images, displays shots of gun shows, gunshot victims, Columbine survivors and mourners, a coffee klatch-style group of female gun owners, and police are interspersed with brief commentary that leaves no doubt as to where his sympathies lie.

What is that? Does Amazon worry that buyers might think that Gun Nation is pro-gun? Or is the reviewer so close-minded that he or she can’t see that Gun Nation is an incredibly honest artistic work. It’s the antithesis of the Huffington Post’s sleazy schadenfreude.

Mikeb30200 and I don’t see eye-to-eye on any number of gun-related issues. But we share a desire for genuine debate on life-or-death issues. Once again, the HuffPo isn’t helpful in that regard.

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  1. There are now 300 comments at the Huff Po site, and some are very thought-provoking:

    I have hunted all my life, I have shot pests and varmints on the farm, dirty pooping pigeons, pheasants, partridge, deer, squirrels, rabbits, racoons and opossum. But I have never felt the need to have a pistol or an AK47. and I have never played with a gun, brandished it around like these people. Apparently they are trying to feed their egos . When my dad and my brothers got out guns, it was to do business, not play around and act big. These people are acting big to prove something.

    Some here are trying to feed their egos. I suspect that the majority are not.

    I started shooting at about 10. Shooting rats in the barn with a .22 and rat shot. Don't hunt as much as I would like to anymore, and won't take a deer. I got 2 girls in the house with a Bambi complex. The daughter can out shoot me any day of the week, though. And I guarantee she knows more about weapons safety and handling than any of the hoplophobes posting here. And to be quite honest, I don't like EBRs, like the AK clones, or the AR platform, etc. Give me a Garand or an M14, and I am in heaven. Pistols I use when hunting as a finish weapon if needed, and as a personal defense weapon, again if needed. Overall, I touch a pistol 1 time a month for target range practice, and 3 cleanings, and a rifle just before and during hunting season.

    I would agree with your contention that the NRA provides excellent safety training which I have attended for my work. The problem with the NRA (one reason I left the group) is they take what I consider unreasonable positions on who should be able to legally own firearms, and what type of firearms should be legally owned. Friends of mine in law enforcement echo these views.

    A friend's wife was at 101 California, and that event has changed my perspective on this matter forever. When things are in the abstract people have considerable bravado, but when it hits home, the costs to society of what the NRA calls our "freedom" can be utterly unimaginable.

    90% of the gun enthusiasts I know are really fantasy players, and have no real business being armed – safely trained or not. Do they have a right? There's no doubt about that.

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