from wired.com – OLIENA IS AN idyllic village on the island of Sardinia. It’s a picture of peace and quiet, with medieval streets, fertile vineyards, and mountains beyond. But when photographer Mattia Michelli visited, he had to stuff cigarette filters in his ears to muffle all the gunfire. It was Easter, and around 200 locals celebrated by firing pistols and rifles into the sky.
“Hot little pieces of ammunition were falling from the sky onto my t-shirt,” says Micheli. “I got really scared, and when I’m really scared, I start laughing. It was weird.”
It was one of several surreal scenes Micheli captured in Friendly Fire. The series documents gun ownership in Italy, from western-themed shooting ranges to taxidermy-filled trophy rooms. “I wanted to challenge my idea of something I didn’t know,” he says.
Italy has a small but thriving gun culture, with approximately 5 percent of the population owning some 10 million firearms. It’s headquarters for iconic gun brands like Beretta and Benelli, and exported more than $500 million worth of small arms in 2013 — more than any other country except the US. The government requires a license to purchase a gun, limits how many you can own, how much ammunition you keep, and prohibits automatic and many semi-automatic firearms. However, most Italian citizens who wish to own a gun can.
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Gun owners make up about 5% of Italy’s population. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t enthusiastic.
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