Review of Boris Bally's Gun Totem
By: Kaitlin Baki

Gun Totem by Boris Bally is a structure in downtown Providence, Rhode Island which stands twelve feet tall, weighs in at about thirty-five hundred pounds and was made with more than one thousand different firearms. These are the cold hard facts.

However nothing will give you a shiver quite like staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. Anyone who has been put in that unfortunate circumstance can surely attest that their entire lives flashed before their eyes. While all of the guns used for this piece have been emptied and it's not like they were being pointed directly at me I still couldn't help but feel completely intimidated staring at it, and I had no choice while reflecting on the moments I spent looking at it to respect it's power.

To me it displays the complete normalcy of guns in American culture. You can go to a store and purchase one with just about as much difficulty as buying a carton of cigarettes.

You can go to any country in the world that has been affected by war (America included) and see endless monuments honoring the dead, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country but rarely would you see a display honoring the weapons that are specifically designed to take people's lives away, including those who died for said freedom. I'm not completely sure if that was the artists intentions or not but as an outsider looking in that is exactly how I saw it and it made me wonder.

How many lives was this statue responsible for? How many lives did it change forever as a direct result of those it ended? How many families were torn apart and left grieving? On the other hand how many lives did these guns save? It's always possible that a responsible gun owner could have prevented the death of countless innocent lives if they were in the right place at the right time. I've heard the expression used hundreds of times before "Guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people." If such a creation was never invented how different would our entire world be as we know it? Their influence has forever shaped our human history. So there's no way of ever knowing the answers to the questions that this piece had racing through my mind. The variables would be simply too impossible to calculate.

Although we as humans are responsible for their existence there is no amount of humanity whatsoever built into a gun. There is no empathy. There is no regret. The hunk of steel doesn't care if you're out in the woods starving to death and just need to find your next meal. It doesn't care if someone has broken into your home and is trying to rape your wife. Hell it doesn't care if you want to use it to go out and be the rapist yourself. The gun doesn't care if you were just trying to look cool to impress your friends and your finger accidentally slipped. Once you press that button, that action causes a reaction that once done has the power to change lives forever. In the right hands it can make an average person into a hero but in the wrong hands it can be an extension into pure evil.

Americans often placate themselves regularly by justifying their reasons for owning such a powerful life threatening piece of equipment. Whether for hunting, self-defense or simply because it's within their rights to bare arms, the United States of America loves their guns and they are loud and proud of their history of violence.