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Machine Gun Americana

By Jane Hwang - 2013-02-21T20:47:25Z

Photograph by Pete Muller

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Family Portrait

On the edge of Oklahoma’s Ozarks an outgrowth of American tradition thunders in the air. Gun enthusiasts peer down the sights of devastating weapons at the annual Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show (OFASTS), one of the country’s largest fully automatic machine gun expos. In the valley below, explosive-laden cars, airplanes, and old appliances lie in wait; incendiary prizes for the sharp or lucky. Husbands and wives, often with children in tow, make a weekend of firing a vast array of fully automatic weapons, riding in tanks, and flying in military helicopters.Left, Ryan, April and Olivia Ireland from Neosho, Missouri, have their portrait taken with automatic weapons. "Everyone has a bucket list," April explains enthusiastically. "He [my husband] wanted to jump out of a plane. I wanted to use the biggest guns to blow up a car." As a first time shooter, April addressed the adrenaline rush. "When you see your baby the first time as a mother you have that adrenaline," she says. "That's what I had when I was shooting." The Ireland family remains in possession of so-called "exhibit C," a pistol used in a bank robbery by Ryan's great uncle.