My first reaction was: That's crazy! No wonder why . . . And then about half a second later I realized my pulse had quickened and my thought was: Hey, I bet that's really cool!
I saw an image in my mind. I was standing at the range like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, heavy-duty machine gun at my side, blasting away at some vague, ill-defined target.
Then I shook my head a couple of times. My critical mind took over again, and I asked B sitting next to me: "You see that sign? Isn't that terrible?"
And of course she agreed. "Why would anyone want to do that?" she asked, completely perplexed that a civilized person would find pleasure in shooting a heavy duty gun, like they're some kind of combat soldier, or in-the-line-of-fire cop . . . or crazed mass murderer.
And we agreed it's a terrible thing that businesses are out there trying to lure people in to shoot their guns -- powerful, military-style guns designed not to kill people but to destroy them, turn them into an explosion of flesh and blood. We were baffled that the government even allows private businesses to exploit that sick side of people's psyche, the side that wants to get revenge, get even, make others cower and beg and kneel before their superior power.
And yet, for a milli-second, I too felt the thrill of shooting a gun. (The last time I actually shot a gun was when I was about 14, in the woods in back of my uncle's house.) And, not a wimpy .22 caliber single-shot rifle. But a big military-style piece of equipment. And I admit, the appeal was the power. Me, standing there, not taking any shit from anybody, suddenly in control of the world. Like Superman. Or Iron Man. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And then, of course, I realized why the NRA and the so-called "gun nuts" are hardly interested in protecting the right of an American citizen to own a simple hunting rifle. They don't want a simple gun to hunt any more than the people who climb up into their 4-wheel-drive Hummers or Land Rovers want their behemoths to take them through the desert or up into the mountains. They want them because they want to feel the power. Because where else in this overly organized, corporatized, bureaucratized world of ours are you going to feel like you control the world, like people will listen to you, like you own the place?
|New movie; same old violence|
But why not a simple rifle for target practice. Why did he need a semi-automatic AR-15 that could shoot more than a dozen rounds a minute?
"Because it's cool, man!"
It turns out that part of the appeal of the AR-15 -- the weapon used in mass murders from Aurora to Newtown; and a weapon favored by some hunters -- is that it offers a whole range of add-ons, many designed to make the weapon actually look worse than it really is. In other words, it makes people feel even more powerful when it's tricked out with all its extra options.
I don't know. I personally don't feel the need to own a gun. I hate violence. I was a victim of some violence when I was much younger, and I know how painful, humiliating and debilitating it is. But my brush with violence only confirmed my pacifism. The last fist fight I got into was in 5th grade. (And I lost.)
But I also understand how modern Americans have lost their individuality. Corporations only care about your credit score and what zip code you live in. The government only cares about your ethnicity and your taxable income. Modern man has been so emasculated, so trivialized, so marginalized, that we at times want to stand up and say, "I'm here! Pay attention! Don't mess with me!"
I guess I'm just sayin' . . . if you feel that way, maybe instead of going out and buying an AR-15, you could go see Iron Man 3 instead.