Everyone knows lots of Philadelphians are armed. But not all of them are criminals.
The other reason he likes the AK: It's unjammable, idiot-proof and so popular you won't ever run short of spares or ammo should society collapse. The same logic informed his choice of the Remington 870 shotgun: "Every police car you see has an 870 between the front and back seats."
These, says Layton, are exactly the no-frills, no-nonsense guns you'd want if the world goes to hell and the streets fill with the deranged, the desperate and the walking dead.
"I don't want the world to come to an end, but if there's zombies in the street or rioters or whatever, trying to get in here, they're going to have a hell of a time doing it."
"I don't really honestly expect the dead to rise," he says. "However, in a huge state of civil unrest, there'll be people scratching at my window, and they're not getting in."
|Shooting the shooters: Kyle Cassidy traveled 15,000 miles to get the pictures for Armed America.|
More likely, if push really came to shove, he'd be just like most gun owners in New York on 9/11 or in New Orleans during Katrina who left their guns at home and pitched in--got food and water to the injured and the elderly, and generally acted like decent human beings and good neighbors.
Because, much as he likes scaring the squares, truth is Layton's a thoroughly nice chap.
"There are people in that book," he says, nodding at Armed America, "I'd be scared to be in the same room with."
There are scary people in Armed America.
Like Dan from Oregon: "The sheer joy of one-handing the Bushmaster XM18 makes you feel like Robocop when you're shooting toilets out in the middle of nowhere."
And baby-faced, shaven headed, and black-combat-pants-and-sleeveless-T-shirt-wearing Ochressandro from New Mexico: "I have sworn eternal enmity to the forces of socialism and control ... I have read Gulag Archipelago and I will not let it happen here without a fight."
Some people think the cuddly punk-rocky Layton's scary too. "A lot of people look at the photo of Layton and his wife Judi, and say, 'Oh, what horrible people,'" says Armed America author Kyle Cassidy. "In fact, someone asked me, 'Do you think their child is abused?' which is kind of baffling after meeting them. I think they're two absolutely fantastic, funny, kind, polite people who happen to have guns in their closet."
The appeal of putting Armed America together, says Cassidy, lay in "finding 100 possibly very paranoid people, and getting them to trust me."
For six months he had no luck. "Nobody was talking to me," he says. "I was going to gun ranges and just sort of hanging out. I was very naive about it. I'd just hand people my card and say, 'Hey, I'm working on a project about gun owners, and I'd love to come over to your house and photograph you with your guns.'"
Cassidy even resorted to buying a pistol himself, going to ranges and "shooting like I was practicing for the Olympic team."