Cultural Violence

I.

I’ve had a loaded firearm pointed in my direction just once. It was New Year’s Eve going into 1998. Roy and Jerome had shot the pistol into the air. The three of us worked at Video Rack. Jerome was indiscriminately waving the gun before him. I would have protested if I wasn’t so drunk. I got to fire a shotgun on New Year, twice—at the house in the woods.

In the summer, family from Texas was visiting. We were shooting skeet. It was the sixth time I’d ever fired a gun. Seeing the clay pigeon burst apart in my sights felt good.

Some people collect comic books; my nephew Tommy collects guns. It’s what he’s into. Yet, comic books are not designed to kill. Tommy doesn’t care for hunting.

The drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket, Lee Ermy, had a television show called “Gunny Time.” He would look at guns—technical talk—and then shoot the guns. I could feel the testosterone rising.

I had been badgering Tommy to let me fire one of his guns. He picked an assault rifle: an AK-47. He showed me how to hold it, inserted the magazine, flipped a switch, and said, “You’re live.”

I’d never felt so powerful. There wasn’t a target, I just indiscriminately fired into the woods. In a way, it was like an orgasm. All of my pent up feelings of negativity disappeared. For the duration of the session, everything in the universe fell apart. It was just the rifle and me.

Even with the headphones, the right side of my brain was mushy for a month. As much fun as it was, I don’t want to do it again.

II.

Number one: Strictly enforce all existing gun laws—federal, state, and local.

Number two: Stop production of assault rifles.

Number three: Put indoor shooting ranges in any neighborhood—to teach, to respect, and to understand the perils.

III.

Perhaps these murder/suicide crazed freaks felt the same exhilaration I got from firing the AK-47. They take it a thousand miles too far. I cannot imagine using a firearm to harm anybody. I am, after all, a pacifist.

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