This photo appeared in last week’s Atlantic In Focus pictures of the week. Here’s the extended caption:
In Olympia, Washington, the best man in a wedding party holds an AR-10 rifle he was handed while the party was having their pre-wedding portraits taken on the steps of the state capitol building before a rally nearby by gun-rights advocates on December 13, 2014. The rally was held to protest a new expanded gun background check law in Washington state. The wedding party was not part of the protest, but posed for pictures with it after being handed it by gun activist Brandon Lyons, who said “we’ve all just broken the law,” by handing the gun over. Saturday’s protest was called the “I Will Not Comply” rally, and those attending said they will openly exchange firearms in opposition to the state’s new voter-approved universal background check law, Initiative 594. The law, which took effect on December 4, requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions and many loans and gifts.
Random enough, yes, with the presence of pro-gun activists, a couple out-and-about taking wedding pictures and the presence of an AP photographer (likely covering the demonstration)? The way guns can so quickly refigure domestic life, I wonder if members of this wedding party appreciated just how loaded this pictures is. I’m saying that not just because they ended up moving on the national newswire. I say it also because of the horror in New York that unfolded the day after this was published.
I haven’t seen the gun issue discussed all that directly in relation to the murder of two New York policeman this week. But I surely caught the import of Oliver Willis’s tweet in the immediate aftermath:
now can we talk about the guns littering our streets? no? okay then.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) December 21, 2014
If the Brooklyn killings demonstrate many things, one is how much these weapons are wedded to visual culture and to American life. Until death do us part.
(photo: Elaine Thompson/AP)