Guns and Me

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.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

4 thoughts on “Guns and Me”

  1. Hmmm truly an interesting read. I must say I take great exception to the bigoted stereotype of the balding fat man, especially considering I am anything but. I also reject the notion of a gun being a phallic symbol, even Freud, the king of finding sexual connotations to everything rejected this notion. In fact, he alluded to a fear of guns being a sign of a lack of maturity. To be clear, I am not accusing you of this as you certainly do not exhibit such a problem!

    I have often thought in a very similar vein to your reasoning about why it is that I am drawn to guns. I can’t accept claims of power or an expression of masculinity though, as while I have dedicated a large portion of my life and my education to fighting for gun rights, I do not in fact own a gun. To me, gun control is symbolic of the extremely irrational nature of government. It is not well reasoned, nor is it supported by any empirical or academic evidence, and it is true from my own research that countries where gun control has been implemented always has a very central government.

    This is not to say that I believe deluded claims of the tyranny of a despotic leader or political party, but that only a centralised majoritarian government could pass such bad emotionally based public policy.

    To me, the lack of irrational gun control measures in the US such as bizarre caliber bans or registration is symbolic of a well functioning federal system with a good distribution of power. It is my reasoned understanding that this is why you will find such fervor in the minds of gun rights advocates, whether they have a deliberate or instinctual understanding of this significance.

    Once again, congratulations on an opinion piece that seems honest, well thought out and not brazenly hostile or irritating to read.

  2. I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that everyone out there who is into guns fits my stereotyped mold of “gun nerd.” I intended it as an interesting counter to that other stereotype that most people have of pro-gunners: scary big bearded men with tattoos and confederate flags.
    Everyone has their particular interests and hobbies, and in questioning gun rights activism, I am not saying that it’s a useless endeavor, but that on a sliding scale of issues that will affect and challenge us in the years to come, there are always bigger battles to fight (sans guns). At the same time, I am aware that many people are daily battling drastically more insignificant issues, such as petitioning movie studios against James Bond actors, and other such wastes of time. If gun rights is what gets you involved in political discussions and gives you fresh perspectives on issues of governance, then who am I to belittle that? I think anything that gets people involved in politics is a good thing, and I wish more of us would follow suit, for all causes, both big and small. Thanks for commenting and for the positive reinforcement!

  3. Give me your address and when a rapist or burglar breaks into my home and I hold him off with my shotgun, rather than shoot him, I will send him to YOUR house, ok?

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