Denver-based photographer Matt Slaby has been documenting gun culture in Colorado since just before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that gun ownership is an individual right protected under the Second Amendment.
Since then, Slaby has explored the often-contentious issue by photographing the wide variety of gun owners he has come across.
He said he wanted to get past the one-sided arguments and “really start to look at who the human beings are … and what their relationship is to the issue.”
His own interest in gun culture stems from his time as an emergency medical technician in Littleton, Colorado.
In 1997, Slaby began working for an ambulance service just a few miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in history.
As a first responder, he witnessed a high volume of traumas related to firearms, which helped develop his interest in the topic. He also worked in the summer as a wildland firefighter in remote areas of Colorado.
“That put me in rural America working with and around people that hunted,” Slaby said. “Guns just signified something different. They were a part of people’s lives in a much different way.”
Through his work, Slaby has come to understand that guns mean different things to people across the country.
“People own for self-defense; they own for hunting; they own for recreation; they own for a variety of different emotional experiences,” Slaby said.
“I really am interested in looking at the demographic of the people that own guns. Not only looking at the demographic but just letting them talk, in their own words.”
- Raymond McCrea Jones, CNN