The nation is considering measures to contain gun violence, as ongoing design and innovation produce ever more deadly weapons. Barbara Eldredge, Tom Diaz, Larry Zanoff and Michael Guslick discuss the design of guns in an industry whose product is lethality; why MOMA will not display firearms; and whether it is possible to 3D-print a personal weapon.
FROM THIS EPISODE
The Newtown massacre has prompted millions of Americans to ask what they can do to contain gun violence. As the White House is set to unveil a series of safety recommendations tomorrow, it hopes it can please all political sides. But even if stronger controls are put in place, can they keep up with design and innovation in an industry whose product is lethality?
This show has never before discussed guns. Nor, it turns out, has the Museum of Modern Art, the preeminent museum of modern art and design, in New York, even though guns are central to American life and, if they achieve their intended goal, a perfect fusion of form and function. Barbara Eldredge is currently working at MoMA; previously she wrote her student thesis on guns and design museums. She tells us why the museum won't display firearms.
Larry Zanoff of Independent Studio Services holds a Japanese Matchlock, circa 1590
Guns play another large role in American life as the stars of our motion pictures. Larry Zanoff manages the weapons department at ISS, the Independent Studio Services prop house in Sunland, California. He also trains actors and law enforcement in the proper handling of guns. Here, guns are stacked by the hundreds on shelves in a secured room. To the movie industry, guns are just another character in the story, and Zanoff works with actors and producers to create the illusion of violence.
A wall of revolvers at ISS
Older guns at ISS have a high level of craftsmanship
That gun sizzle-factor in movies—often enhanced through sound effects—is just one piece of the story for an industry where increased firepower is central to its business model. Tom Diaz is the author of two books on the gun industry, Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America and another book to be published soon, The Last Gun in America. Diaz is a from a military family and a former NRA member, and he became a gun safety advocate after working for a congressional crime safety committee. He has studied how the industry makes and markets its product and he says that movies are actually a very useful promotional tool for gun manufacturers.
Gun parts produced on a Stratasys 3D printer by Michael Guslick
So what happens when gun manufacturing technology is put quite literally in the hands of the people? Michael Guslick is an engineer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin whose hobbies include remote-controlled airplanes, amateur radio, metalwork, electronics and paintball. But last year he received a great deal of attention when he wrote a story on his blog about how he managed to manufacture a gun using a 3D printer. Michael talks to Frances about the project and what he means by the term “functional” gun.
Top image: An AR-15 rifle made by Michael Guslick combines a 3D-printed "lower receiver" with commercially produced parts; it sits alongside a paintball gun used by Guslick for testing prototype parts.
More From Design and Architecture
Cities finalize bids for Amazon's HQ2 Thursday is the deadline for cities near and far to submit bids to internet superstore Amazon for its second global headquarters. Amazon says its new HQ2 will be an economic engine for any city, generating around 50,000 jobs. That has cities in Southern California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine and Santa Ana licking their chops and offering up incentives in an effort to score the headquarters.
How Amazon changed Seattle, Lawrence Halprin The deadline is this week for cities to bid to host Amazon's second headquarters, or HQ2. What can Seattle teach those cities about becoming Amazon's company town? And the late landscape architect Lawrence Halprin saw gardens through the lens of dance. Los Angeles right now is paying tribute to the visionary designer of modernist parks and plazas.
Can a linkage fee solve LA's housing woes? It's now up to the full, LA City Council to decide whether or not to add an additional fee on developers looking to build in the city. It's being called a “linkage fee” and the hope is that it will bring in as much as $90 million a year to help build more affordable housing. A council committee signed off on the idea this week.
Guns and Hollywood, Institute of Mentalphysics You might think Hollywood and the NRA are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. But recent mass shootings have brought renewed focus to the glamorization of guns in the movies. And a music festival in Joshua Tree this weekend takes place in a setting known for its spiritual qualities as well as its architecture. We hear about the Institute of Mentalphysics.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
5 design things to do this week This week, you can: hear about the Chicago Architecture Biennial from its creative directors and architects; watch a Lawrence Halprin-designed park come alive with dance; sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Grand Central Market; learn about the plantings of Piet Oudolf on the High Line; and capture the light of DTLA with an expert photographer. Read More
Halprin’s reimagining of urban parks on display throughout LA During the era of urban renewal, construction of the interstate highway system and suburban flight, Lawrence Halprin wanted to breathe new life into cities. His landscapes drew from Modernism, the rugged wilderness and dance, and paved the way for landscape architecture’s present role in citymaking. Read More