I used to like to play with toy guns when I was a kid. Probably stemmed from the “having-a-penis” thing. Miniature rifles, tiny handguns,baby bazookas, they were all just fine by me. Guns made me feel cool and tough, just like the real cowboys and soldiers and secret agents I saw every night on the TV. My fake weapon of choice was a genuine replica Thompson Gun, and this was WAY before I ever heard of Roland or Warren. I could spray plastic death over an entire room full of imaginary bad guys for ten long, glorious seconds per pull.
Here it is: Mattell Tommy Gun
Some fun! When that broke (as all my toy guns invariably did), my tiny imagination took over. Give me a short stick or a pencil or just my own thumb and forefinger and I’d be pow pow powing the afternoon away without the benefit of Mattel or Hasbro products. I’d play Army, “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (if you have to ask, you’re too young), Civil War, “Combat”, or whatever other imaginary game that involved choosing up sides and hunting down the “other” guys till they were “dead”. Of course, they’d only be “dead” for a minute or so, or until they counted to fifty, or a hundred, or whichever length of time we chose till they were resurrected, but no matter. It was tons of fun, and we neighborhood boys threw ourselves into our pretend carnage with glee and great abandon. Most American males have a fascination with all things that shoot, and we were no exception.
My perception of guns as “really cool” started to change when I turned teenager. The high school my parents sent me to was on a college campus, so I was fortunate enough to witness several student demonstrations of the late 60s. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on at the time, but I gleaned from all the earnest shouting and slogan-hurling that the big kids were upset about some war they claimed was illegal, and a bunch of other young people who were forced to fight it but didn’t want to. Or something like that. This confused me. My dad had been a WWII vet, where he earned a Purple Heart for getting wounded and some other sort of medal for saving other guys’ lives when his ship went down, so up till that point I had always associated war with heroism and bravery. These young college people were screaming about the evils of war and how we should all stop engaging in it. A warm, disillusioning cone of cognitive dissonance descended upon my noggin and I actually started thinking about what it all meant.
My exploration of this newly discovered dichotomy lead me to books and people I never would have consulted had it not been for my exposure to those angry students. I started reading Vonnegut and Chomsky, Hesse and Zinn, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, and Smedley Butler. My first college roommate was a long-haired semi-activist who was far more well-versed than I in counterculture and anti-war sentiment, and I learned a great deal from sharing a space with him.
I eventually decided the kids with the signs and the yelling were right. War for any reason, I reasoned, is dumb, not only because it kills both the innocent and the guilty without discrimination, but it also ALWAYS makes money for the weapons manufacturers, at least in modern times, because the weapons manufacturers could give a shit less about who buys their product. They often give money to both sides (see: “Prescott Bush“) so it doesn’t really matter to them who “wins”, as long as there’s lots of death and destruction. Makes them happy, because it makes them money. Dead humans equal fat wads, stacks of Benjies yo. War is waged for the benefit of disgusting, soulless banker douchebags with no more regard for human life than a puker has for his shoes. War is a racket, just like the book says. People who wage war are the ultimate assholes. Yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda.
Regardless of these sad and embarrassing realities, and whether I like it or not, America actually prides itself on its ability to wage war. It’s hard for me to think of some poor kid who left his legs in an Afghani landfill as a “hero”, especially when his family is paying four bucks a gallon for gas (more like an unwitting, well-intentioned, misinformed victim), but if I dare say that within earshot of a proud, True American, I’m likely to be given a righteous, Gawd sanctioned beating. We love being the tough guy, the one nobody messes with, the John Wayne Gacy-type hero who will wade into a “situation” and make everything A-OK by beating the living piss out of (or killing) anything or anyone America considers “bad”. And, to many Americans, soldiers and weapons and war are like ham and eggs and home fries, Mom’s apple pie and virginity, napalm in the moonlight and screaming children. They just “feel right” together. So why not bring the war back home? Forever! All the freakin’ time! Why, with a weapon of his very own, the average American bullethead can relive all the glorious moments when his daddy gutted Krauts at Normandy, or helped beat them pesky Nips in the head with a rifle butt as he herded them into internment camps way back in the good ol’ days! It’s a proud tradition! And hey, if Gomer Jr. finds that loaded Glock Pappy keeps under his pillow (fer “sicheeayshuns”) and blows his empty little melon off, it’s just collateral damage, right? Besides, it’s probably Gawd’s will to boot!
Listen up, Mr. Super Patriot Bullethead. I neither want nor need your long, boring lectures on the history of weaponry. I realize you still have as much fascination for guns as we all did for our wee wees when we first hit puberty (ok, ok, and well beyond), but I truly don’t care about how wonderfully you think guns and ammo have contributed to the world or how much you know about either one. The arms industry drives death and destruction. It does NOT help build handy consumer products. Assault rifles are designed for one purpose only; killing humans quickly. You gun fanatics are arguing for barbarism, and that’s precisely why I can no longer stand listening to you pontificate on the wonders of magazine capacity and “stopping power”. You guys with weapons are no better than unevolved beasts, too afraid to do anything but shoot to kill rather than learning other, saner, more mature ways to resolve conflict, and the longer you cling to your precious little firesticks, the longer the rest of us must endure a world of pain and misery because of your atavism. Doesn’t matter which “side” you’re on either. If you rely on weapons of any sort to ensure “peace” in our world, you’re part of the problem, whether you’re a “good” guy or a “bad” guy, so try to get past your little “hero in the 7/11” fantasies and grow the hell up.
And relax already. The pain of the most recent mass murders will all blow over pretty quickly, especially since the Super Bowl (America’s true religious holiday) is coming up and no one wants to be disturbed whilst watching all those neat commercials. When the next group of innocent people gets butchered by a lunatic with a legal weapon, you gun rights patriots will simply rise up once again, in righteous indignation, demanding armed guards in elementary schools or some new type of nonsense, and on and on we will merrily go, piling up heaps of unarmed, innocent civilians all over the country because frightened men refuse to grow up and learn how to deal with life without relying on dangerous toys. You’re going to prevail, Mr. Super Patriot Bullethead. Americans have the attention span of Muenster cheese, so chillax. The Liberals will all be suitably horrified when the next twenty or thirty American civilians are made dead by one of your Eskimo brothers, then go back to Starbucks and forget all about them too.