[lit-ideas] Re: Didn't I tell you so?

  • From: Paul Stone <pas@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 16:59:44 -0400

At 04:26 PM 5/30/2006, you wrote:

I haven't heard anyone address the most important question: had these guys, the ones whose testosterone went up, ever fired guns before. So much myth has been created in recent years about guns; they probably had little or no experience with guns and thought they were doing something dangerous.

I fired lots of b-b and pellet guns when I was a kid and did target practice a lot. Until I was an adult, I had never fired a gun. Since [hand] guns are basically a complete hassle to own -- and even more of a hassle to fire -- in Canada, the whole gun thing was never much of an issue. Besides, I'm basically non-violent and believe that guns DO at least ENABLE people to kill people.

One day, a friend of mine and I went to Detroit and we were driving down a main street and we saw a "gun shop and range" that advertised "walk in and fire any of our guns". We looked at each other and said "hmm.. that sounds kind of interesting" (I was about 25 at the time). We went in and selected 6 or 7 guns and over the course of about 90 minutes went into the target room and fired off dozens of rounds of ammunition for different guns.

Bill (my friend) had fired a gun a few times, so he went first -- i have to admit I was excited but petrified (the myths being what they are) and his first gun was a .357. The first shot was a very low BOOM with a concussive force that made my chest vibrate. I was intrigued to say the least. I lined up my cop-issue .38 revolver and fired off a shot. It was a firecracker compared to my pal Clint's long barrel wrecking machine. Not much of a kick and it felt "relatively" harmless. I emptied and reloaded the gun a few times and then retrieved my silhouetted man. I had some head shots and heart shots, but also many outliers that were complete misses. Not bad I thought. I put a new target up and sent it back down the line.

Then it was on to my beretta. I think it had 12 in the mag and one in the chamber and I got to load the magazine myself. It was a bizarre feeling to actually load a gun like this -- so easy. I line it up and fired once. The kick was substantial compared to the little revolver, but because of its grip shape and the balance, it was easy to firmly re-aim in half a second as the slide slid back and chambered another bullet. Bill informed me that it was semi-automatic and I could basically fire it repeatedly, but that I needed to push the trigger each time. I tried a set of three. Bang bang bang. It felt good and I hit three good shots all to the head. I let loose, emptying the remaining rounds. Bang bang bang bang bang bang in a few seconds. What a rush, tremendously exciting. The next mag I felt a little profligate and just emptied the whole thing at once. I think only about half hit in the centre of the target, but I was gaining control. "These things are cool"

With a little practice I could get good at this -- but why?

Then I traded my 9mm for Bill's long barrel Magnum. I loaded up the revolving part (sorry, don't know terminology) with bullets and snapped it shut. I was hesitant remember the tremendous boom that it made when Bill fired it. I squinted and pulled the trigger. Carnage was unleashed from my hand. The gun kicked up a few inches and I realized that in the future, I need to set my wrists a little stiffer but relaxed so that i didn't hurt myself. The power of this gun was ridiculous and I began to, not so much fear it as much as I respected, more rightly "understood" the power of such a weapon. A few more guns, a glock, a special, a something something. We returned them and left.

We walked out into the sunlight afternoon after our little fantasy land and I can honestly say I still didn't like guns. Now I had a reason. Although it was fun and a huge 'rush' [endorphins were kicking], it was also scary and brutal. I understood even more the SOLE reason for inventing/firing a gun is to do damage. Target practice is a useful offshoot (pardon the pun) that comes with wanting to become proficient. Afterall, men will compete with ANYTHING -- I saw electric belt-sander races at an autoshow once. But the reason that guns exist is to kill things. That's the flat truth. And they are perfectly designed to do that expeditiously and easily -- even an amateur can do it and that's proven every day in your streets, and sadly, more and more, in OUR previously basically gunless streets.

So... yes, as Lawrence says, it is an interesting question as to what percentage of these people had ever handled a gun, had ever thought of it, had ever fired etc. I'd also be interested to see, of those who HAD, who was still charged by doing so -- sounds a bit adolescent and if you're testing adolescents, your testosterone readings are going to be COMPLETELY unreliable.

As for firing a gun, I know I can never do it again for the first time and if I did, it wouldn't be nearly as novel and my testosterone levels would probably not be affected. I'd still feel the dreaded reality though.


Paul Stone
Kingsville, ON, Canada

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