Kids With Guns: A Symbol Of Hope Or Fear?
A girl walks away with her rifle after shooting practice in her home yard in Louisiana. Her mother did not want her to be identified
In the heartland of America, children are taught from a very young age to fire guns in order to protect themselves, their families and their property from potential dangers. In a country where nearly one-third of the population owns at least one gun, it’s comforting to the parents to know their children can use a weapon properly, if the need should arise. In 2013, an incident that caught international attention was one in which a 5-year-old accidentally shot dead his 2-year-old sister with his Crickett rifle. Crickett’s My First Rifles come in candy-coloured variations that are built to fit the frame of a child. Photographer An-sofie Kesteleyn (26) felt that the idea of a child killing another with a machine designed to kill, modified for a child to use, was the antithesis of hope. She went from shop to shop, home to home, looking to photograph children in their own environment with their own first rifles, and understand what they were afraid of. She wanted to see if these children with guns were a symbol of hope for their families, or a product of their fear.
Kesteleyn was born in Oudenaarde, Belgium, and took up photography when she was 18. After studying for a Master’s degree in photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, she started working as a freelancer for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant. She also works on independent photo-essays, focusing on people and the way they live. Kesteleyn has won the first prize in the Dutch Zilveren Camera Awards in 2012, and was a finalist for the Magnum Expression Award as well as the Ian Parry Scholarship.