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Guns in the hands of artists

Updated 12:25 PM ET, Mon December 5, 2016
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A new book, "Guns in the Hands of Artists," uses more than 180 decommissioned guns as raw material for works of art.

Luis Cruz Azaceta created this sculpture, "Taperuler Gun," in 2014. Growing up in Havana, he says, he experienced daily violence. In 1960, he went into exile in New York and became an artist, where "art gave me a voice and a weapon to address the human condition."
Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Generic Art Solutions, the team of Matt Vis and Tony Campbell, created this sculpture using a vintage gumball machine and 2,000 .22 hollow-point bullets. This art duo uses art to examine recurring themes of human drama including violence. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Azaceta used guns, tape, plastic, metal, wire and wood to make this sculpture. His art, he says is something he hopes will not serve as a distraction and will instead help the world face itself. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
North Carolina-based artist Mel Chin created two classical portrait busts of a man and a woman, composites of infamous killers, with muzzles for eyes. "To lock eyes with these portraits is to stare straight into the dark barrels of guns." Stan Strembicki/Guns in the Hands of Artists
John Barnes Jr. created "Marigny Warning" in 2014 out of shotgun barrels and mixed wood in response to a shooting in New Orleans' Marigny neighborhood. In that case, white man was not charged after shooting an unarmed black teen who jumped his fence. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Generic Art Solutions created "One Hot Month" between 2002 and 2014. It was initially an attempt to chronicle obituaries of "death by gunshot" victims during that time period, when there was about a homicide a day. Michael Smith/Guns in the Hands of Artists
S+S created "SMAC" in 2014. The duo of Stephen Paul Day and Sibylle Peretti are based in New Orleans and in Cologne, Germany. Michael Smith/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Brian Borrello created "Mississippi Valley" as an attempt at being nonjudgmental, positioning the weapon as an object for contemplation. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
William Villalongo created "Sleeping on Reason" in 2014. "The piece is meant to be somewhat perversely symbolic: collapsing the gun and the many young victims of gun violence," Villalongo said. "I am reminded that we live in a society of many contradictions." Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Azaceta created "Carry On, Drugs & Teddy Bear," in 2014. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Adam Mysock created "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun (Last Judgment)" depicting the cartoon Bambi's mother under Hans Memling's "The Last Judgment" triptych. "Anytime a gun is fired, a last judgment is generated; a shooter is making an irreversible assessment about their target's worth and virtue." Michael Smith/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Azaceta used permanent ink on paper to create "Needle Gun" in 2014. Michael Smith/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Paul Villinski created "Mourn" in 2014. The US is obsessed with guns, he said, but imagine if everyone with a gun in their hand held a tool or a brush instead. Guns "destroy life, take something away. Art does the opposite." Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Skylar Fein created "Kurt Kobong," a bong through which users could smoke weed, in 2014. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Mysock created "The Last Six, Under Six, Murdered by a Gun in the Sixth" in 2014 after hearing a report about six children killed in separate incidents in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood.
Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Ron Bechet created "Why (Is it Easier to Get a Gun than an Education, a Gun Instead of Help?)" in 2014, inspired by the cries of victims' mothers, who often scream "why?" when they hear the news. The names are of those who were killed in New Orleans between January and September 2014. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Bradley McCallum smelted guns and shell casings to create this manhole cover. Gun violence has been a regular feature of his work he said, as "our national policies have not changed, and even the most reasonable efforts to enact gun legislation face huge obstacles." Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Nicholas Varney made "Onegin" with a gun and created a bullet out of 18-karat gold and diamonds. "Hopefully," Varney said, "the brightness of the bullet sheds light on the gun and all of its significance within New Orleans, a city known for its singular splendor and its foil. It is a gem, after all." Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists
Jonathan Ferrara created "Excalibur No More," inspired by the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone. Neil Alexander/Guns in the Hands of Artists