And you thought poorly written fan fiction was the worst thing to happen to the Kink community.
Walter Kirn, Even the Liberal New Republic:
What Gun Owners Really Want
You know what I’d love to not be writing about right now?
I mean, it’s not like other things haven’t been happening since Sandy Hook. The Pope resigned from being God’s personal dickbag to being just one of his dangly follicles again. The Republicans are attempting to shut down their fake Tea Party apparatus down and finding it’s mutated on them. And the president is continuing to be offensively non-white at right-thinking white people everywhere.
And yet, here I am talking about a two week old post like it was a fresh bag of garbage. And that’s because every time I fire up the usual haunts, I get a nonstop flow of attempted rationalizations over why every paranoid schizophrenic needs an anti-tank rifle and an ICBM.
Oh sure, there’s other stuff too, but the various permutations of scared little boys having a temper tantrum about someone saying they might have to restrict their favorite toys a little if they keep on insisting in killing all the little girls they can just keeps on a’rollin’.
And today’s post being as it is a product of Even the Liberal New Republic’s raison d’être provides a somewhat revelatory admission amongst the usual distractionary bullshit.
Shorter (or the last port before Jungle):
- You liberals just don’t understand how intoxicatingly erotic firearms are, with their sultry curves and powerful triggers, yanking back hard on my shoulder, like… uh, er, right, yes, obviously, us gun nuts can be trusted on gun policy and remember that we’re the only voice that matters in the debate much like the only voice that matters in domestic violence policy are BDSM life-players and the only voice in suicide policy are autoerotic asphyxiation enthusiasts.
You know… there’s a reason that we refer to gun-obsessives as “gun fetishists”. And that’s because every time they try and talk about their hobby like a normal human being explaining why they find knitting relaxing, they end up sounding like the kinkiest motherfucker in the dungeon explaining why licking a black leather boot is the only thing that turns their crank.
We begin our story in the only part of America that matters (the rural midwest):
My father’s Iver Johnson .410 shotgun, which he promised would be mine soon, leaned on its stock in a closet off the kitchen filled with other guns and camping gear. The shotgun was given to him by my granddad, who’d bought it at an Ohio sporting goods store in the early 1950s. It was a squirrel gun that took only one shell and had to be manually cocked to fire; my father said it would teach me to shoot safely. I was months away from turning 15 and felt that a gun was the proper acknowledgment of oncoming adulthood.
When spring came, I got to use the Iver Johnson, but not for hunting, as it turned out. My father, a lawyer, was on a business trip and had left us behind, my mother, my brother, and me, on our small farm in eastern Minnesota. We were miles out of town, on a hill above a river, and there was a feeling of being on our own.
It’s called living in a rural community. See, that’s what defines them as being rural, being away from where most of the people live. I know you’re setting up the usual “see, I was outgunned by twelve wild russians invading my bumfuck little town” bullshit, but still.
One night a convict escaped from a state prison—a dangerous convict, someone known for mayhem
Oh Noes! Not known for mayhem. Why, he could… do something unspecified but would surely have supported you being pants-pissedly terrified…
Listen, assorted cowards of the world, I know the “escaped convict” story is a fine old urban legend tradition, but let’s all be honest for a second. The average escaped convict is not looking to put any more heat on them than they already have. Most of them are looking to get far far away and back to the haunts they came from and aren’t going to do much more than run if you corner them. And that’s before we note that most crimes that “known for mayhem” criminals commit are committed against people they know intimately.
Outside of gun nut communities, no one really wants to kill complete strangers in cold blood. It’s why we have to spend so many man-hours training soldiers in how to do it.
—and several news reports placed him in our county. It was nighttime when we heard the warnings, first from a Minneapolis radio station and then, a few hours later, from a neighbor, who called us to say the convict had left some clothing in a barn on a nearby dairy farm.
“Lock the doors,” said my mother, hanging up the phone.
So let’s get this right, a convict has some clothing, possibly near you stashed so he can sprint off and you immediately lock the doors and go cowering? So what was the thought process here? Some on-the-lam fellow who already has a stash of civvies is going to break into your house with its incredibly inconvenient phone so he can… what exactly? Convince you to invest in high tech stocks?
The rest of the plan was my idea, hatched in a moment of rustic melodrama that seems, 35 years later, picturesque, like a “Little House on the Prairie” episode. I loaded the shotgun by sliding a slim red shell into the chamber.
Yes, just like in a Little House on the Prairie and not at all a teenager trying to live up to action movie fantasies about “the moment a boy became a man by killing another sentient human being who was in fear for his life”.
I clunked the barrel shut. Then I made everyone go upstairs with me. My mother and brother stayed inside a bedroom while I took up position on the top step and pointed the old Iver Johnson down the staircase. For the first hour of my vigil, I imagined the violent scene that might unfold. I wouldn’t shout a warning; I’d shoot on sight. The load wasn’t powerful enough to kill a man, but if it struck him in the head he’d drop, allowing me time to ready another shell. Given the distance, there wasn’t much chance I’d miss. I pictured blood. I pictured a person staggering. How realistic these pictures were I didn’t know, since the movies in those days weren’t graphic about such matters, at least not the movies that teenagers could see.
And here’s my main issue with the culture surrounding gun ownership in this country and its come up a frighteningly large amount of times in this last couple of months.
I have never met another group of people who so consistently fantasize about watching a complete stranger die by their hands. It’s a breathless wet dream, filled with toxic narratives about power and it’s all about having an excuse to take out another living breathing human being just because society has deemed them an “acceptable target” or because they personally allow the murderer-to-be to self-justify the action.
And that’s what raises the kink from a “hey, whatever dude if you can only get a stiffie wearing a dog suit and a pink tutu” to a “yeah, maybe we should look at some of that, just to be safe” level.
Oh, yeah, speaking of kink.
The night dragged on and on and nothing happened. The next day, the convict was captured by the police. I slid the shotgun underneath my bed where I felt it belonged, now that it was mine.
Growing up around guns and owning them as an adult affords a person memories and experiences that strangers to guns may have trouble understanding. The divide is phenomenological, not political (or not political until it gets to be), like the gulf between those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t or those who smoke and those who’ve never lit up.
Yep, totally random analogies and word-choice here. Not at all a Fruedian Slip. In fact, if we dirty liberals with our virgin trigger fingers hadn’t interrupted, I’m sure he could have gone on to use such other totally innocuous comparisons such as mating patterns in butterflies, the first time you got fisted, or the first time you were collared while a tattooed boi named Sam pegged you up the ass.
Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self. Depending on the nature of your social life, which time around guns can shape and color in ways that I’ll describe, you might forget that these patterns are even there, because you’re surrounded by people who share them—until someone or some event challenges you to answer for your thinking.
So… it’s a cult then.
Call me back when you’ve got some funny robes and a made-up language for me to chant.
In Aurora, Colorado, last August, on assignment for this magazine, I stood at the edge of a movie theater parking lot where twelve people had been shot dead the night before and 58 others had been wounded. The shooter (I dislike this term; it seems too procedural, too flavorless; I still prefer the harsh, judgmental “killer”)
Well, of course you do.
You favor killer over shooter because it distances that event from your hobby and fantasy kingdom. It helps create an illusory wall between those dark deeds and the people you shoot with and gleefully swap caliber stories with. Because that helps hold it at arm-distance from anyone you might know and any guilt that might cross over and affect you.
“Killer” is preferable to you, because it removes the gun from the descriptor. It makes the crime something that could have happened if the shooter had walked in armed with nothing more than a spork and a can of lead-based paint. It’s a way of removing the murderer from the rest of humanity so that the overall culture that spawned him doesn’t have to suffer the indignity of being examined on a real level.
had been armed with a shotgun, a pistol, and a rifle. He’d used all three, according to reports, firing into the crowd of moviegoers from a position near the screen. The casualties would have been greater, experts speculated, had the rifle—a semi-automatic model based on the Army’s M-16—not jammed (a sensation that gun owners know inside their muscles and at which others have to guess).
You know… I’m prone to a good number of escapist hobby communities. Video games, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, board games, D&D… and yet somehow when faced with the horror of the Aurora shooting, my first and most compelling thought wasn’t “huh, I wonder how much lower the damage would be if everyone had taken more Dex for a higher dodge bonus”. Largely because I haven’t carefully trained myself to be a sociopathic monster who can only relate to tragedies through the lens of their personal hobbies or fetish objects.
The haunted parking lot was strewn with popcorn, great yellow streaks of it spilled from trampled buckets, that conjured up the chaos and the panic and left me unable to enjoy the stuff.
You’re not supposed to, dipshit. It’s the scene of a brutal murder, not a goddamn action movie for you to yank your piece at until you get the explosion money shot.
But I could still shoot—with pleasure, without guilt, and with no evident post-traumatic pangs.
Oh phew, I know we were all worried about that. We’re so glad that you’re enjoyment of your sexual fetish wasn’t at all cockblocked by directly reporting at the scene of a tragic killing involving your fetish object.
We were so worried.
When the time to lay blame for the massacre arrived, it wasn’t Americans’ easy access to firearms that I found myself deploring, but a depraved, unbalanced culture of splatter-fest games and other dark entertainments. I blamed the potential for gruesome fame nurtured by the Internet, as well as a mental health system that’s not a system.
Of course you did.
It’s always the violent vijeo games and the hippity-hop music that leads to these things. Even when there isn’t even the type of weak-ass non-connection they found in Columbine (seriously a decade-old game played a scant hour or two a week was somehow supposed to be personally responsible for that shit?). Fuck, we don’t even have evidence that Adam Lanza knew what a video game was and we already got an endless parade of bills ready to make it even harder for 20 somethings to play such vile offerings as Spec Ops: The Line.
And if it’s not that, it’s teh interwebs or something else the kids are using in a way that gives the olds the vapors. Because actually acknowledging the real cause of all this bull is just way too hard and shit.
But then, soon enough, another mass shooting occurred, at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. And then another, at Sandy Hook Elementary. The crimes were no longer discrete abominations but one continuous siege, it seemed, broken only by pauses for reloading.
Yeah… Listen, my viewpoint may be affected by my pussy liberal non-gun-owning faulty memory, but Aurora wasn’t the fucking beginning of that avalanche. It may be the first time the national news media had to actually acknowledge the trend that gun owners set off on, but for the rest of us, we were well noting the rise in various mass murders for years before that shit. It’s why the average anti-gun response to Aurora was weary despair and fatigue. I mean, Trayvon Martin ring any bells? What about Gabby Giffords? Virginia Tech?
Fuck, if your community didn’t decide to light up a classroom filled with white suburban kindergartners and then trip over your dick like a drunken uncle trying to find the exit to the bathroom, we probably would have let your ghoulish asses have a free pass to continue weakening what scant few protections we have with nary a nevermind.
Unfortunately, you did and now it turns out people are less than happy to let you off without at least a slap on the wrist and a ban on the ability to deck yourself out like the fucking Terminator for a spree killing whenever you want.
This was a war that warranted wartime thinking; cultural criticism could go to hell. The hour of reckoning had come, particularly for gun owners like me who’d never thought clearly about where we stood, only that it was somewhere between the militants and the innocents—a dangerous spot, since both sides felt attacked.
Translation: If I wanted to be considered anything other than the pants-pissing, privilege tantrum throwing, narcissistic fetishist I was, I needed to start distancing myself slightly from the most egregious fucknozzles while still throwing enough dog whistles and privilege-blind moments necessary to earn my daily bread.
The country went berserk. Or further berserk. Where incidents of gun violence were concerned, there was suddenly no such thing as local news. The media sent out daily, rolling body counts. Four dead in Pennsylvania, five in New Mexico. Then came the shadow statistics. Gun sales, up. Ammunition inventories, down. Membership in the NRA, expanding. Meanwhile, on YouTwitBook—our virtual town square where actual bodily harm is not a threat and aliases, masks, and hoods are common—the usual anarchy turned to savagery. After Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s vaguely mortician-like leader and chief inflamer, called for armed guards in the schools on “Meet the Press” and David Gregory, the host, broke character as a fresh-faced voice of reason to wave around a rifle magazine, the video of the encounter unleashed comment streams that read like the transcripts of prison riots. A contingent of Sandy Hook “truthers” even emerged to call the horror a hoax. Naturally, this provoked obscene responses.
The media was soooo mean to us. They treated us like no-good dirty sinners like we were people who enjoy consensual sex with a willing partner or something. Oh, okay, I guess the various faces of the gun-owning community didn’t do ourselves any favors by demanding we punish kids for having the temerity to get shot and claiming that Sandy Hook never happened and the grieving parents were government-trained liars, but still…
It’s like we did something wrong or something.
I hunkered down and started to reflect. To certain fellow gun owners whom I was ashamed to regard as fellow anythings, my belief that the public has a right to collective self-defense from those who abuse their individual rights qualified me as traitor and a weakling. To certain purists among the unarmed, my guns marked me as unwholesome, perhaps a “nut job.” A girlfriend had called me this name once, partly in jest, after coming across some bullets in my desk (a few. 22 shells, just pocket litter to me and no more ominous than thumb tacks). I shouldn’t have, but I bristled. This troubled her slightly. Which troubled me.
Both sides do it, take a shot.
Yes, feeling the natural shame anyone would feel finding out one’s hobby community was filled with a pack of monstrous ghouls is totally the equivalent of being lightly teased by a romantic partner about a problematic hobby or interest (especially when proponents of that hobby have often committed violence and murder against romantic partners when they were viewed as “straying”).
Fuck, I feel deep shame and frustration about communities I belong to like gamers, comic-book nerds or atheists and that’s only because a loud minority of the community are total douchenozzles. If every single fucker who claimed to speak for the community was a monster on par with a soap opera villain? I doubt I’d even flinch if someone called me a total fucking monster for being aligned with them, much less lightly teased me about a major red flag.
Also, seriously, live ammunition is “pocket litter” to you?
Yeah, you are a nutjob.
Sorry to break the bad news.
You all know how that goes, that spiral of defensiveness when someone questions something you take for granted. Or maybe you don’t, since you’ve never owned a gun.
… Not really. It’s the same sort of crap I encounter whenever a privileged group is called on even a fraction of their bullshit. Right down to the spiral of defensiveness about something that is totally really important to the privileged dickwaffle even if they can’t at all place what that is on any real level.
Let’s go shooting together. It might help us talk.
Uh… I haven’t really consented to that yet. I mean, we haven’t even filled out our “yes, no, maybe” checklist or anything yet.
They push back when they’re fired. That’s the elemental fact involved, the deep Newtonian heart of the whole business.
Yeah, that’s great and all, but see, I’m more here because my partner wants to try some suspension play and-
They kick at your will in the instant they also project it, reminding you that force is always two-sided.
Yeah sure, dominant and submissive energy woo bullshit, great. Listen, she’s just getting some water and-
It’s a shock the first time, an insult to the senses, but once you’ve learned to expect it, absorb it, ride it, recoil becomes a source of pleasure.
Yes, you’re describing impact play, how great for you… not sure what this has to do with that oddly-shaped-barrel piece you’re waving around.
You’re up on your board turning turbulence to flow. You want to do it again, again—again!—and the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system.
Oh, oh god, I really didn’t ask you to pull that out and stick that there. Listen, I’m starting to suspect you’re involving me in a scene against my will and if you really don’t walk away, I’m going to have to inform the Dungeon Monitor.
It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.
That’s just… great. I’m going to just go wipe my dress off and try and forget this ever happened. Please don’t follow me.
When I shoot at the range, I don’t feel personally powerful but like the custodian of something powerful. I feel like a successful disciplinarian of something radically alien and potent. Analyze this sensation all you want
Okay. It’s a power fantasy. Specifically a sexual power fantasy. The sexual thrill of holding a large amount of power in your hands and having it be yours to do with as you will. It’s not alien. It’s not novel. It’s not even particularly interesting. Mostly it’s just sad.
I mean, power play is a common BDSM practice, the fundamental basis of D/S and for those into it can be a hell of a thrill. But since you don’t allow yourself that outlet to those desires, you let them instead be sublimated into a murder toy and a culture devoted to twisting those desires into a rich and paranoid masculinity cult.
you still can’t make it go away. But that’s the primitive, underlying fear, of course, which the likes of LaPierre exploit: the fear that it will be curtailed, suppressed, prohibited—perhaps not any time soon, but ultimately.
No, not really, the fear that LaPierre exploits is the same fear most right wing shibboleths exploit. Fears of emasculation, fears of dwindling relative power as minority groups gain rights, the slow slide of racist, sexist, homophobic assholes into electoral obscurity, fears that minority populations will suddenly treat you like you have treated them if you’re not ready to murder them in cold-blood first.
We’re not talking rights here; we’re talking instincts. It’s not the gun that the so-called “clingers” cling to and don’t like the thought of anybody screwing with. It’s not even the power of the gun. It’s the power over the power of the gun.
Really, gun nuts? You’re trying to borrow “born this way” iconography to protect your sad little clubhouse from having a few well-deserved rocks thrown your way? Go fuck yourself.
Guns alter your reflexes, your neural pathways. The changes are subtle at first, and welcome, like the heightened awareness that posture golf clubs bring. Later, if you’re an imaginative type, the changes can grow more pronounced, more conscious. You start to entertain scenarios that might not occur to you if you didn’t shoot.
Um, if that were even remotely true then we should just blanket ban firearms right now and lock up every motherfucker who even so much glanced at a firearm.
Luckily for you, that “neurological rewrite” is nothing more than the same sort of tingles you get when you masturbate after a particularly vivid fantasy (or so sexuals have related to me) and “entertaining scenarios that might not occur to you if you didn’t shoot” is just the paranoid bullshit culture you end up spouting when you end up surrounding yourself recreationally with people who are completely divorced from reality and claim that being so is critical to “really” be in the scene.
Huh… now that you mention it, maybe we should actually look into doing something about that some day.
My friend, an Army captain, a tall West Pointer, was just back from Iraq. He’d had a tough time there. We were wrapping Christmas presents. He asked me if I’d ever heard of a law passed under President George W. Bush (he called it a new “order,” actually) that established a formal military command, USNORTHCOM, over the country itself. His tone was dark, insinuating, and I looked at him, concerned. PTSD. We’re all hip to its signs (at least in others), and a moment ago my friend had asked me (oddly, I thought) to turn off a ceiling fan whirling above our heads whose blades kept distracting him as he tied ribbons.
When I asked my friend what bothered him about the Northern Command, his answer, as I half-feared, boiled down to this: Americans beware America. I pressed him. Did he seriously, genuinely believe that soldiers, our soldiers, soldiers much like himself, could possibly be prevailed upon to intimidate or attack their fellow citizens?
Affirmative. If ordered to. They’re soldiers.
The unarmed fear the armed, but the armed are disposed to fear the better armed.
And the unarmed. And the equally armed but wrong colored. And various phantoms entirely invented by their mind to justify their paranoid and unhappy lifestyle. And anyone who so much as glances their way in a way that happens to remind them of all the various groups they are trained to hate and look down on. And anyone who laughs at them because laughing at a person who owns a gun is totally a justifiable reason for committing a homicide.
Occasionally, in idle moments, as an exercise in guided paranoia, I let myself picture the mythical siege of kicked-in doors and smoky, barricaded streets implanted in my head by my West Point friend. As a creative aid, I run the newsreel: Waco, the Rodney King tape, Kent State, etc. I also think back to a haunting traffic stop in the winter of 2004–2005 on a freeway near Junction City, Kansas. It started when I was pulled over for a bad headlight and ended with a dog sniffing my car, watched by a cop in a swat-team-style black uniform. I felt vulnerable, humiliated, outmanned.
Imagine what it must feel like for an actual minority member being pulled over by the cops, being treated like a criminal, being assaulted, or just being illegally searched and arrested for being the wrong color. Where the handgun you had sitting in your glovebox wouldn’t have been treated like a friendly hand-wave to the local shooting club, but rather proof of your gang status and connection with drug trafficking.
I also know the opposite feeling, of outmanning someone else, because I pulled a gun on a guy once. It happened outside of the building where I live in downtown Livingston, Montana, a town of 7,000 that I moved to from New York City 23 years ago, back when New York was still considered dangerous. I was in the cab of my Ford pickup after a trip to a mini-storage locker with my two children, who were nine and six. Right across the street was the Mint Bar, a cavernous old brick hideout for midday tipplers in front of which was standing a lean young man who’d glared at me with a manic, feral focus the moment I’d parked and opened the truck door. He seemed high, not just drunk, with that toxic aura of meth, and when our eyes met, he bared his teeth and hissed that he was going to kill me, that I was dead, shifting his weight toward the curb at the same time. Somehow my kids didn’t hear him as they climbed out, nor did they see my reaction to his threat: I opened the glove compartment and removed a long-barreled .22 target pistol that was there by chance, as part of the move. Its rubber grip met my hand and melded with it in a smooth, reflexive motion. I held the gun across my belt line, displaying its silver profile as I turned. The scary young man was about ten yards away by then, but when he saw the gun, his body rocked backward as though in a cartoon. I watched his flushed face drain pale as he backed off, one shoe untied and dragging a long, loose lace. He vanished around the bar’s corner, a full retreat that left me presiding over a total victory that no one, because the street was empty, had witnessed.
Well, your kids don’t remember it as vividly as you probably because they weren’t actively orgasming during the chance to finally shove your long thick piece in another man’s face, letting his eyes lovingly linger on the smoothness of the length.
Instead they just watched as some drunk bastard vaguely glanced in their father’s direction as their embarrassing dad immediately started making oh boy noises and fiddling in their glovebox with all the excited glee of a kid opening a giant gift on Christmas.
I mean, for fuck’s sake, what supposed danger were you in? That a drunk guy you could easily dodge or just drive away from might awkwardly stumble in your direction? Even if this story wasn’t the usual type of exaggerated false bravado that the gun community has been pathetically trying to wave around as justification for their penis extensions, it’d be the tale of a man so scared and idiotic that he needed a fucking death-bringer just to wave off a drunk who then thought this proved his bravery and good qualifications.
A single win is not a streak. It may, in fact, be a basis for self-delusion. Statistics on the dangers guns pose to the health of their owners and those who live with them suggest that I’d be safer selling my guns than reserving them for Tombstone II. Trouble is, in an armed showdown, statistics tend to lose.
… You’re a fucking idiot.
Armed showdowns? You’re a fucking rural-ass white guy from bumfuck nowhere (or at least someone willing to play one to the bought-and-sold media), not a wild west sheriff in an old school western. You’re not going to be in an armed showdown, carefully premeditated and announced for you to show your prowess. If someone wants to do violence to you with a gun, they’ll just walk into your ass with the key you gave them and use your own pistol to shoot you in the head. Or you’ll shoot yourself in a bout of severe depression brought on by trying to deny what sexual feelings you actually have.
And that’s the cold ugly truth that gun owners are running from right now more than the backlash from Sandy Hook. The knowledge that all their fantasies are just that. And that if they want to act them out, they’re better off heading to a dungeon than a firing range.
And that’s really the bottom line to this whole thing. I could continue on. He’s got a bit about “thinking rationally about firearms” and some climax (I see what I did there) and refraction period on how bans that don’t affect guns he uses to get himself off don’t affect him so he’s happy to support those if it’ll stop people actually looking into gun culture and analyzing it.
But really, there’s nowhere else to go.
With any of these gun fetishists.
So you want to fuck your guns? So what? As long as you stop nonconsensually involving the rest of us in your little games, we really couldn’t care less. But with you spraying your loads into the bodies of little kids and ranting about how we need to treat you softly and really admit that everyone shares your little kink, well, the rest of the Kink community just doesn’t want to be associated with you anymore.
And that’s saying something because we’ll pretty much take anyone… and how.
‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. Remember to tip your dom. We are aware of all Internet traditions.™