Shelley Calton ~ Licensed to Carry, Ladies of Caliber

Shelley Calton is another photographer I met at Fotofest with an inside track into the world of firearms. She has turned the camera on a very sensitive and timely subject. Guns are in the news everyday and the cause of tremendous suffering. I  find these photographs very powerful and incredibly disturbing. 

That is all I want to say... the rest is for you to consider.

In Shelley's words...

"Since the early pioneer days, women have armed themselves.  As a young girl growing up in Texas, I was taught about guns and learned to shoot. My father kept a pistol in his nightstand and rifles for hunting. Today only the predators and laws have changed. There is a growing trend in the number of licensed women handgun carriers. These women are empowered and armed for protection.  They have been tested, fingerprinted, and schooled to use a firearm effectively." 

 "Until recently I have maintained an apprehensive distance from guns except through the lens of my camera. Yet, firearms have interestingly integrated themselves into my work, i.e., Hard Knocks, “Tex Offender’s Pistols” and Nécessaire “Colt 44.” In Licensed to Carry, I decided to explore the private lives of women who arm themselves and join them in becoming a licensed handgun owner. The photographs are set against everyday scenarios, the guns are prominently featured, and contrast their otherwise concealed nature." 

"Women who carry guns are unassuming: she may be the mother in line next to you at the grocery store checkout counter, the grandmother walking her dog, or the woman parking next to you at the shopping mall.  This is not an exclusive club and is open to anyone except a convicted felon."

"While owning and/or carrying a gun is not always kept a secret, it is seldom boasted or talked about.  That being said, when you ask a female gun owner to talk about her guns, she will open up, get excited, and proudly tell you about each gun.  What I didn’t expect and what I discovered through photographing these women is that many collect handguns as they would Wedgwood china or high heel shoes."