Italy

Friendly Fire

A fatal attraction of the Italians for firearms. Now on the political news as well

Italy is a shooting star in Europe because of its economic stagnation lasting from many years, but also because its firearms production is a really advanced industry, able to influence even the USA market. The States, infact, are the destination of 38% of guns, carbines and rifles produced by Italian specialized firms (like Beretta, to name just one)

Italian firearms export is worth a turnover of 2,650,000,000 billion Euros (2014 data). The real numbers are approximate most of the time as a huge percentage of firearms sales and possessions go beyond legality. Overall estimates talk about 9 million firearms circulating in the country. These numbers help to (partially) understand why Italy owns the European record murders with firearms, with the province of Nuoro leading this sad rank. In this part of Sardinia, one resident out of ten owns at least a gun or a rifle, nourishing the highest rate of murders and wounding in Italy.

Also Italian police is by far the most armed in the EU with 420,000 firearms on duty – Germany is a far second with around 300,000.A thorny truth is emerging, something the young photographer Mattia Micheli calls ironically “Friendly Fire”: in Italy there’s a peculiar fascination for firearms. A seduction passing over the limits imposed by law, stating that to possess a firearm a psychophysical test must be passed.

In shooting ranges and munitions stores, in the countryside where 810,000 hunting licences hang around, among weapons convention’s habitues and the enthusiasts with their collection of shining rifles hanged on their living rooms, there’s a rooted love/hate feeling fulfilling them more than any other trasgression. Because if a firearm is beautiful, and nicely crafted as the eternal “made in Italy” motto guarantees, it reassures and satisfies enough to wear thin the taboo of the extreme loaded gun until its gradual, final disappearance.

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