I was so sure I would love this. I mean I love Texas Hold ‘Em poker and hip hop and red meat. Country music and thrillers. But I hated shooting this gun from the first cracking !!POP!!. The hot mini-explosion, the burning gunpowder smell, the brute force of the bullet lofts towards the human-shaped target, shredding a tiny hole in its chest. (How am I surprised that the bullet is so FasT?!) Gunfire’s like all the sensory and psychic horrors of a massive car crash, condensed into a two inch space. The sounds of strangers’ bullets popping two feet next to me, some shots hitting the metal target clips and ricocheting. The gun metal growing hotter and hotter with every shot. Emptying the cylinder of the charred shells and sliding six new bombs in, loud popping all around and that fire smell. I slid the clip back in and tried not to point the gun anywhere but forward. I didn’t want to shoot it again, but I conjured up scenarios where family members were being attacked by mouth-frothing dogs, or confronting bayonet-wielding foes in a glorious American Revolution battle. All this righteous creative visualization kept me shooting but hardly put a dent in the tsunami of revulsion and sadness I felt. Every hideous shot drove home the extent of my naievety, of the profound mismatch between my casual lifelong concept of guns versus the ear-splitting, gut-puncturing, charred-flesh-smelling utterly destructive reality of actual gunfire the way it can only be understood when it’s emanating from one’s own hands. Guns have one function. They’re precision-engineered to efficiently rip through flesh, to destroy life. It’s not that destroying life doesn’t have a time and a place. But where’s the sense of gravity? The reverence for the profundity of what death is, for the value of life? I mean I’d love to report that this joint is patronized by sober-minded hunters and humble patriots. But it seems like something else is going on, not least because Mach 5s are on display like Reese’s Cups. Semi-automatics with ‘On Sale!’ tags. Guns-R-Us. I wouldn’t feel this sense of shock and disproportion if this were Beirut circa ’82 or the Ottoman Empire circa 1913 or even a cattle farm in Texas circa yesterday. But this is Palm Beach, Florida, 2009. There are no wolves attacking our cattle. We can procure food at Trader Joe’s. It’s as though our collective GunLove(tm) gets more and more fetishy and f*cked up the further it gets away from its original utilitarian function.

I’ll never hear a Biggie Smalls rap the same way again.

Maybe I’m just a pansy.

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