I have to say that I am sick to death of guns. As I’ve already mentioned enough here already, I’ve been dealing with the strange and unforeseen inheritance of my grandfather’s handgun and rifle collection, and it’s turned me into a grudging part-time dealer and historian of curio and relic firearms. I have also participated in some gun rights debates, both here on my blog and on other forums, and I’d like to get this whole gun thing off my chest, once and for all, so that I can sleep at night without bolt action rifles dancing through my dreams.
Debating with pro-gun folks is always interesting, if not for their often over the top extreme fervor and passion, then also for their often very articulate and informed responses. There’s a lot of meat-heads out there, of course, in love with their phallic guns and their patriotic gun rights, but there’s also a plethora of what I call “gun nerds.” These are kind of dorky older men, generally overweight and often with glasses, of the type who might just as easily be involved in crafting intricate miniature replicas of airplanes, or spending years building an elaborate train set. For some reason they picked guns, perhaps because the unquestioned manliness of the subject makes them feel tougher. Whatever the reason, these gun nerds are serious and informed hobbyists, and can detail historical, technical, and legal nuances of guns to make your head spin. These mostly gentle, studious men are one example of why guns are probably OK. They just like to oil up their guns and fix them up with new parts, or collect historical rifles and antiques, and go and shoot them at immobile things.
I have to say that there is some kind of embedded masculine excitement that is ignited naturally by guns. We just kind of like the idea of them: they are the quintessential toy, useful for plugging little rodents or distant hummingbirds and other such diverse and sadistic activities that could only be appealing to a boy. We like the feeling of shooting things, perhaps because it is a synthetic and empowering extension of our ingrained sensation of holding our little peepees while we urinate in fun outdoorsy places. Who knows how this gun fervor develops so innately in a full-grown man. All I know is that even I, who have attested repeatedly to having no interest in guns, developed a slight “gun fever” when I saw the sight of my grandfather’s beautiful collection laid out in the sun after I took them down from the attic, all those walnut stocks and glistening blued finishes.
But I have also been frequently of the mindset of what is termed “liberal,” and I have de-programmed parts of my innate masculine instincts, and so another response which I also obtained from these guns was one of horror and disgust. The history of guns is one of conquest, warfare, and murder, and we witness their continued extensive aggression being vented daily on the news. Guns made me feel sick, and while I felt their draw and power, I was also repelled by their intent, their murderous design. These are tools made for killing.
But now that I’ve gotten a little closer in understanding to guns, and even shot a few, I’ve come to a new understanding of them. They are both weapons and toys, all in one. And they are really somewhat silly.
I don’t know that I can quite understand why people get so worked up about the possibility of a gun prohibition. I mean, people are extremely passionate about this subject. I wish that people got more passionate about more important things. I don’t see why having the right to go shoot your gun at immobile objects is such a desired and fundamental right. Can’t we find other things to do with our time? Could we perhaps apply all that free time and studiousness to converting our lawns to growing food? Could we maybe petition and lobby our local and federal politicians and bureaucrats for better public transportation and more intelligent community design? Something a little more constructive than our right to bear arms?
That said, I do not think that guns should be banned. I think they should simply be strictly controlled. I don’t think that if gun nerds want to go into their dens and ranges and shoot their cherished penile extensions at things we should stop them from doing so. I also think that destabilized teenagers and adults should not be able to just buy whatever gun they want to on-line.
There. That’s all I really want to say about guns. They are toys and weapons all in one, and I think we all need to just kind of get over them, from both ends.