Women of the Gun: Meet Instagram’s Gun Porn Stars

Article by Art Tavana

With flawlessly manicured dark-red fingernails, @Kayotickat’s thumb softly grazes the steel frame of a single-action Browning 1911-22 pistol.

It’s an archaic gun with a tobacco-colored grip, yet it looks vogue in her hand. The close-up photo, posted on Instagram, gets its charge from a traditionally phallic pose (a gripped pistol) feminized by Kayotickat’s dangerous flirtation, like the femme fatale handling a cold piece of twentieth-century engineering.

This juxtaposition is the future of gun advertising for younger Americans raised on the internet—those millions who don’t read gun magazines and never visit a newspaper stand (if they even know where to find one). Instagram is where you’ll also find a photo showing an attractive young woman in a floral-print skirt that she’s lifted to reveal her thigh—and the Sig Sauer P238 holstered tightly to it.

The Sig appears in several photos taken by shooting-range safety officer Lisa Brianne, who executes yoga positions with the pistol, uses the gun as a lingerie prop, and holsters it on over her patriotic leggings—all while using hashtags like #GunPorn. These images are politically provocative. Brianne’s sexualizing her relationship with her firearm. She’s inviting you into her bedroom to play with her gun. And she’s how I’m familiar with the Sig.

Peruse the latest issues of gearhead-focused gun magazines, and you’ll find an austere, industrial, mostly sexless aesthetic. The masculine-feminine power dynamics of gun culture are muted in publications like American Handgunner, which favor centerfolds showing stand-alone firearms and their accessories (though a recent rise in concealed-carry permits secured by women has produced the occasional photo of a midriff-baring woman holstering a Glock).

There have been vivid exceptions to this hardware-centric approach, like the photos of syndicated radio host and Second Amendment activist Dana Loesch in a black dress and goth ankle boots, wielding her AR-15 in the pages of Guns & Ammo in 2015. Loesch was the first woman to appear on the cover in 54 years. But this is not the norm.

Glossy gun magazines cater to their most reliable demographic—traditionalists in flyover country who view guns as self-defense power tools or recreational toys. Loesch, a right-wing vamp wearing Alexander Wang, simultaneously appeals to both Midwestern moms and heavy-metal fanboys. She’s a cultural bump stock in a movement that’s inspired conservative women to transform into gimlet-eyed Bond girls. These dark, icy, and chic spitfire dames are the future of Second Amendment activism.

Trinity Merrill is one of the millennials redefining the “gun gaze” on Instagram. She’s a plucky Second Amendment activist who poses in front of the flag and models for pro-military brands like Warrior Flasks. She frequents shooting ranges in Ozark, Missouri, on “Tactical Tuesdays,” wearing cutoff denim shorts with sponsored safety glasses and earplugs. She’s a gun-rights pinup girl, happy to scandalize those liberals who view guns with prejudice and paranoia.

Defiant women like Merrill, who has 125,000 followers on Instagram, are featured on wildly popular Instagram channels like @bassbucksandbabes, @pretty_girls_with_guns, and @country_bombshells.  The bombshells account boasts 273,000 followers, an apparel line, and an endless stream of photographed conservative amazons who lift weights and comfortably handle the dead carcasses of big game.

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