Sometime during the break I decided that I might want to purchase a gun. Some variety of pump action 12-gauge mangler, the kind that I would clean in the living room if I had a daughter and her boyfriend were coming to dinner for the first time.
I’m not certain where this sudden yen for a firearm came from. I don’t typically find myself in situations where a gun makes for a handy tool. Even calling a gun the same thing that we call a hammer or a Phillips head screwdriver is amusing, in a really macabre sort of way. As if having to brandish a Glock 9mm at someone is as commonplace an occurrence as having to hang a picture or put together a bookshelf from Ikea.
On New Year’s Day, I found myself in the foothills southwest of Payson with my girlfriend’s father Jay. Her brother Justin drove. Clanking around in the back of the Forerunner were enough guns to make Ted Nugent salivate.
Sweet Lord! Barack Obama signed The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. It’s effectively turned the military into a goon squad that can detain anyone they want indefinitely without trial. The Senate rejected an amendment to the NDAA that would have explicitly forbidden the indefinite detention of American citizens. The dream is writhing on its back like a freshly-gassed cockroach.
The shooting spot we picked was littered with broken bottles and mangled computer monitors. The last half hour of dying sunlight bounced off the spent casings. It looked like a cult of poorly assembled robots threw a Mardi Gras and then a mass suicide.
A cop zip tied a 5-year-old boy’s hands and feet together and tried to charge him with battery. This April, we’ll witness the trial of the two troopers who shot and killed Jason Kemp in his own home after he asked them for a standard entry warrant! During protests at Occupy Oakland, Marine veteran Scott Olsen was shot in the head with a projectile gas canister. Footage shows Olsen standing peacefully, minding his own business seconds before getting his skull caved in. This is the thanks we give a guy for serving two tours of duty in Iraq. Semper fi.
Jay handed me a .44 caliber revolver. Just looking at it makes my bowels curdle a little bit. “Be careful of the recoil,” he said.
Regular old civilians are getting cagey and stupid also. In Wisconsin this summer, mobs attacked State Fair attendees as they exited the fair grounds. A man let a pack of exotic animals loose in Zanesville, Ohio before trying to swallow a bullet. An eighth grader in Texas was shot last Monday by police officers. He punched a fellow student and then brandished a pellet gun that, according to reports, looked very much like a real pistol. He was told multiple times to put the gun down and, for some reason he didn’t care that two cops had a bead on him. He’s dead now.
The revolver kicked like a mule. After six rounds, my hands started to sweat and ache.
It’s easy to insulate oneself from the outside world. John Donne tells us that no man is an island. But the Internet is a really good place to get completely buried beneath your own social networking solipsism and a long Netflix queue. On the rare occasion when we pull our heads out of own navels and take a look around, planet earth in the year 2012 can be a pretty terrifying place.
According to certain interpretations of the Mayan long-count calendar, we have a little less than 350 days before some kind of cataclysmic extinction-level-event. It is widely accepted that the Mayan people were real whiz kids when it came to numbers. But it should also be acknowledged that being good at math doesn’t make you an expert on the end of all existence. And yet there are some people that legitimately believe that the final curtain is nigh upon us. I personally know someone who broke up with his live-in girlfriend of more than three years. “I really believe that the Mayan prediction for 2012 is true,” he told her. “And between now and then, I just want to have sex with as many people as possible.” This is the brand of bad craziness we may have to deal with as the days count down.
My girlfriend’s brother pulled out a single barrel 12 gauge pump action shotgun. “We call it The Zombiekiller”, he said. It’s beautiful, in the same way that all dangerous things are. In the way the world is. But it also looked totally ridiculous in my hands.
Maybe I’m being optimistic, but haven’t we done this before? Don’t we know this routine already? I’m rounding second and heading into my dirty thirties and off-hand I can count probably six or seven raptures, apocalypses and doomsdays that were supposed to come and tear my world asunder and did not. We’ve lived through the end a thousand times and we’ll do it a thousand more. As a species, we’ve done genocides and droughts and wars and plagues and, collectively, we’ve come out each time bruised, but intact. That’s what humans do – they solider on. At the dawn of this year, the world looks like one giant rotating riot. But the world is scary all the time. Some years are simply scarier than others.
I thanked Jay for the expo and quietly decided that shooting TVs in the desert is awesome, something I want to do again. I’ll probably end up getting some sort of gun. But I’m betting that I’ll never have to fire it, unless I find some more busted televisions.
My girlfriend’s father took the shotgun from me, reloaded it and loped up the hill, randomly firing it into an imaginary unruly mob. The sight should have made me wet my pants. His footing was steady and his aim sharp. He fired off 9 shells in a matter of seconds. But we all just had a laugh. It was a silly thing to watch him aggressively empty his gun into the hard dirt. Here’s hoping that it stays silly. Here’s hoping that the unruly mob stays imaginary. Cheers.
By John-Ross Boyce – Opinion’s Editor