Lindsay McCrum's new photo book Chicks With Guns is just what you think it is: Striking portraits of women with their firearms. What's unexpected, however, is the impact of the photos as a collection.
If viewers don't personally know one of these gun-toters, McCrum hopes the book serves as an introduction to a growing community of 15 to 20 million women in the U.S. who own and use guns.
“Usually women with guns are turned into comic book characters — Lara Croft, Kill Bill — and I thought it would be fascinating to find out who the real women in our country are who own guns,” she says.
After three years and 280 photo shoots, McCrum chose 80 compelling and thoughtful frames for her book. Each photo is accompanied by quotes from the subjects about their history or feelings on gun ownership.
For McCrum, Chicks With Guns is not an attempt to enter the ideological debate about guns. Instead, she says she tried to harness the visceral power of photography to provide a more rounded, honest picture of what women gun owners look like today.
Some of the frames in the book are certainly what one would expect — a policewoman with her shotgun, a woman in a cowboy hat in front of a picturesque Western backdrop. Others are more surprising.
In one picture, a woman holds her naked three-year-old son in her left hand and her grandfather’s shotgun in her right. In another, an older woman stands in the middle of her living room surrounded by dolls and teddy bears (above).
“I’m not in the judgment business and the photographs are not policy, nor are they advocacy,” McCrum says. “I wasn’t interested in glorify anyone or vilifying anyone.”
Regardless of where she stands, McCrum’s portraits of this community seem have resonated with a much broader public. The book sold out on Amazon its first day and McCrum has been busy signing books and dealing with media requests from places as far afield as Field and Stream and Juxtapoz Magazine.
McCrum says all the attention has been humbling and surprising, but ultimately values the access and relationships the book allowed for.
“All these women were extraordinary, they were excited and generous with their time, and I cannot tell you how many told me that were so happy to be seen and heard,” she says.Above:
Taurus Titanium .38
"I bought my gun — the one in the photograph — at the local gun store in Merced, California. It’s a .38 titanium revolver made by Taurus. My hands are not strong enough to pull certain guns back, so I need a revolver. It’s very lightweight and easy to use.... When I was mayor, I couldn’t practice as often as I wanted to, but now that I’m no longer mayor I go a lot more often. The girls usually go on Tuesday nights. We go to our local gun range, hook up our targets, and then all go down and see who’s the best shot."
Photo: Lindsay McCrum