Walter Needs a Shooter

The coastal elites are all abuzz over Walter Kirn’s latest meditative essay on what it really means to be a gun owner–something, according to Walter, that can only be truly understood on a visceral level by those who have handled and shot guns. He comes down on the side of an assault weapons ban but the way he gets there is buswah mysticism at best. Kirn on Aurora:

The shooter (I dislike this term; it seems too procedural, too flavorless; I still prefer the harsh, judgmental “killer”) 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).

Here’s more:

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.

I’m a year younger than Kirn, we grew up in similar places (he’s from rural Minnesota, I’m from rural South Dakota), and we’ve both shot guns, but we came away from our childhoods with two different attitudes towards them. When he fired a gun, he found “the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system. It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.” Perhaps I am a less sensitive and enlightened soul than Kirn, but I did not gain that appetite and I don’t really believe that having grown up around guns, shot them, and owned them endows me with any special muscle memories, urges or, more importantly, privilege to say how guns should be used in this society:

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.

Take it from someone who’s shot, fucked and smoked: of those three things, shooting is the one that you need the least amount of experience to understand. Kirn’s desire to elevate his gun handling history to some ethereal plane says a hell of a lot more about whatever ghosts haunt him than it does about shooting.






148 replies
  1. 1
    Citizen Alan says:

    This is the biggest problem that prevents us from having a reasonable gun debate in this country: the fact that for far too many people, a gun is quite literally a fetish item, in every sense of the term.

  2. 2
    dedc79 says:

    You may very well be right, but the fact remains that if more gun owners were as thoughtful about gun ownership as Kirn was in that article (1) there’d be a lot less people killed with guns and (2) we’d have an assault weapon ban and a whole host of other reasonable gun control measures in place. I prefer to reserve my criticism for the real gun nuts.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Fifty Shades of Glock

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    When he fired a gun, he found “the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system. It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.

    Outside of any dribble posted by aimai, I am not sure I’ve read anything quite so stupid and wrong-headed regarding this topic.

  5. 5
    mistermix says:

    @dedc79: The notion that you have to shoot a gun to understand gun law is dangerous nonsense even if he (grudgingly — read the piece) comes down on the right side.

  6. 6
    Dave says:

    “Guns alter your reflexes, your neural pathways.”

    There are twenty dead children in Connecticut who could attest to that.

    Fucking Walter Kirn. What a fucking imbecile.

  7. 7
    Betty Cracker says:

    @dedc79: While I agree that there are gun-fondlers who deserve to have more scorn heaped upon them, Kirn’s screed is directly relevant to Citizan Alan’s point above: It’s stoking the fetish.

  8. 8
    SatanicPanic says:

    I’m going to pass, because based on the snippets you posted, it sounds pretty NSFW.

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    I just don’t know what rock some of these people have crawled out from under. I live in deep wingnut mindset territory. I’ve lived in Texas for some time. To this day I have never met or conversed or hunted with, etc, anyone who struggled to not fire a firearm on a frequent basis.
    It’s not like smoking a ciggy. This just seems very ridiculous.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    As conservatives are always telling us, men should never talk about regulating abortion because it’s impossible for them to understand what a woman in that situation is facing.

    This. Is. No. Different.

  11. 11
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Citizen Alan: The same is true of discussing car-related issues like fuel efficiency, though that’s backed off some with the rise in gas prices. (“Love affair with our cars” was the catchphrase.)

    That Kirn piece is some truly outstanding wankery.

  12. 12
    catperson says:

    I imagine there are a lot of people who have fond memories of lawn darts too.

  13. 13
    Josie says:

    I agree, Mistermix. I grew up in rural Texas. Learning to shoot was just something expected, like riding a bike. I have not handled assault weapons, but I have shot rifles, handguns and shotguns. I have no clue what he is talking about with his “muscle memory” nonsense and “neural pathways.”

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    @catperson: I grew up with guns and fired plenty in three years in the green machine. Haven’t fired one in over 20 years and it hasn’t bothered me yet.

  15. 15
    cathyx says:

    Fetish is right. His description sounded kinky and sick.

  16. 16
    cathyx says:

    @Josie: You obviously weren’t one with your gun like he is. The gun has to be like an extension of your arm.

  17. 17
    mistermix says:

    @Josie: There is a long history of wanktastic wankers who grew up somewhere and then went away using the location of their birth as a credential to pass off all kinds of foolish horseshit. Kirn’s essay is one example.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    @Baud:

    FTW.

    Occasionally went shooting with the old man at the gravel pit, as a kid. It was fun–I was a real Sergeant Saunders, flushing out some krauts with a real gub! (“That’s ‘gun.'” No, it clearly says ‘gub.'”) My parents never bought me a gun and I never asked them for one.

    Now I’m a grownup and the thought of reviving up that decades-old occasional hobby has never occurred to me. Until reading this I didn’t realize I was Totally Missing Out. Is it possible there are things we do as kids that no longer interest us as adults? Inquiring minds….

  19. 19
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @dedc79:

    if more gun owners were as thoughtful about gun ownership as Kirn was in that article

    Two things: First, huge numbers of gun owners (and NRA members) are pretty thoughtful about lots of gun-safety issues — have you seen the polling lately? And second, Kirn’s thoughtfulness gets sidelined by his borderline-creepy fetishization.

  20. 20
    FlipYrWhig says:

    You experience reality differently after learning to drive, too. I don’t think that means that people who don’t drive have less valuable opinions about speed limits.

    ETA: Looks like Xecky got there first…

  21. 21
    Citizen Alan says:

    I actually just read the damned thing instead of just the excerpt and it’s worse than I thought. I really does read like gun porn, like a Penthouse Forum letter about guns. Literally his first experience with a gun involved waiting up half the night fantasizing about shooting and killing an escaped convict if he showed up (he goes out of his way to say he wouldn’t even consider a warning shot), and when he’s denied his kill, he goes to sleep with the gun under the bed. If this were a work of fiction, I’d say the metaphor was heavy-handed, but as a supposedly non-fiction essay, it’s embarrassing to read.

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @trollhattan: Yea, we used to roam around the Puente Hills and up by Mt Baldy with 22’s and blaze away. I don’t think we could do that today.

  23. 23
    Josie says:

    @cathyx: Or of something else.

  24. 24
    cincyanon says:

    I read that article and thought, similarly, “what is he talking about?” I grew up in Ohio with guns in the house and at ten or so learned to shoot birds and critters with my family and friends. I had a certain skill with a rifle and gained marksman credential by 11 or twelve at camp and first class by maybe 14. I own guns now and have friends who are hunters but I don’t have much sense of an ingrained “gun-ness” about myself. I’m now 50 and I’ve worked in an office environment for decades but if I think of anything that feels ingrained in me that others don’t understand if they haven’t done it, it’s carpentry. And I’m an old white guy in Ohio who’s lived in urban areas (including Alphabet City in the early 80’s) all my life.

  25. 25
    Valdivia says:

    Kirn wrote a piece about Mormons this summer that was just unreadable. I see he is keeping it up.

  26. 26
    Corner Stone says:

    @Citizen Alan: Dear Penthouse,
    I never expected something like this to happen to me…

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @trollhattan:

    Now I’m a grownup and the thought of reviving up that decades-old occasional hobby has never occurred to me. Until reading this I didn’t realize I was Totally Missing Out.

    It sounds more like you’ve accumulated a series of “wins” where you did not succumb to the near overwhelming desire to fire a gun again.
    You know you want to.

  28. 28
    Raven says:

    @Corner Stone: I did lay in a couple of thousand rounds for Y2K.

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @Josie:

    but I have shot rifles, handguns and shotguns. I have no clue what he is talking about with his “muscle memory” nonsense and “neural pathways.”

    Are you trying to tell us you don’t use a shotgun to weed your garden beds? I thought that was how all of us in Texas did it!

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @Corner Stone:

    SatanWayne, get thee behind me.”

    “On second thought.”

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    @Raven: Slacker.
    Where I come from we call that an easy Tuesday morning at the range.

  32. 32
    trollhattan says:

    @Raven:

    2k42k

    Totally makes sense.

  33. 33
    El Caganer says:

    “You start to entertain scenarios that might not occur to you if you didn’t shoot.” If that were objectively true, he’s just made the best argument there is for not allowing anybody to have guns.

  34. 34
    Norbrook says:

    Good lord, what an incredible piece of meaningless wankery. Having grown up around guns, and having been in the military and shot the M16, I can’t recall any specific “muscle memory” or having thoughts like he describes. Matter of fact, if he has them, he probably is one of those who shouldn’t own them. He sounds a bit … off.

  35. 35
    Schlemizel says:

    I think those of you who are trashing this guy may not be giving it enough thought.

    I have fired pistols, rifles, shotguns and full-auto guns. I enjoy it but I don’t have the sensual reaction that the author is describing. But I know a few people for whom shooting IS a fetish & they do seem to think just like this guy describes.

    Some people get turned on by high-heels, some by bondage, whos to say that just because those are not important to you that means they are just not important at all. There are many pathologies to the gun disease, just maybe he has articulated one that has not gotten the attention it deserves.

  36. 36
    Raven says:

    @Corner Stone: Yea and they still are there. I did have occasion to load one up a few years ago when a crazed professor killed his wife and two guys at a community theater picnic up the street. All we got was a text from the university saying someone was shooting people in the hood.

  37. 37
    Corner Stone says:

    @trollhattan: Oh come on! It’s just a little gunpowder and a teensy primer! They’ll hardly be missed by anyone. And it’ll make you feel sooOOoo gooood. Just a round or two? For old time’s sake? C’mon! Who’ll find out? It’s just us girls here.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    trollhattan says:

    @El Caganer:

    Kind of a tell, isn’t it?

    I pity his neighbors, and anybody guided to his house by Maria, the Spanish voice on their GPS.

  40. 40
    Raven says:

    @El Caganer: ESPN had a piece a couple of years ago about pro athletes packing. One dude said that in many regular situations he saw a reason to reach for his piece. He gave it up.

  41. 41
    ChrisNYC says:

    So tired of hearing about the inner workings of gun enthusiasts. Tomorrow there’ll be a hot essay about the wonders of life without guns, right? Just kidding.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    This guy needs to be amputated from his fucking penis substitute.

    What a crock of shit.

  43. 43
    Schlemizel says:

    @Corner Stone:

    sure you say “Just let me put the primer in a little” and the next thing you know . . .

  44. 44
    Josie says:

    @Corner Stone: Ha! No, I am a peaceable oldster now, although I occasionally day dream about using a shotgun on the chachalacas who rudely invade my vegie garden.

  45. 45
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Schlemizel: Some people get turned on by high-heels, some by bondage, whos to say that just because those are not important to you that means they are just not important at all.

    We’re not saying it’s not important, just that it’s fetishism and wankery.

    (It’d be wankery no matter what the subject. That style is like a million times worse than Smitten Kitchen.)

  46. 46
    muddy says:

    I was told when I learned to shoot that I was “a natural” because I can’t use the sights or a scope to save my life, I can only pull up and intend to hit what I am looking at, with no glasses. Once I start to look, to think about it, it’s gone. If someone drops a full wineglass half behind me in my periphery, I have reached back in a millisecond, caught it midair and it didn’t spill. Many times. But if you say “Catch!” and toss the keys to me, I can’t catch them at all and I won’t even be able to keep myself from getting hit in the face. It’s weird.

    I liked to shoot a lot when I was young, but I was with a guy who was really into hunting, and that’s a lot of what we ate. He’s still into it, but I didn’t get into it enough to continue on my own when we broke up. But I’m glad I learned, and I’m glad my son came up learning (learning right). At least I know how to check if it is loaded without shooting my eye out.

    I know a woman who has a mentally ill adult son living with her, and he has 4 guns. She wanted one, so he gave her the 45. She is tiny and can’t work the action, so it stays in her nightstand with a bullet in the chamber and cocked. Hopefully her she never knocks it over and the thing goes off. I said I thought it was stupid to have guns in the house at all, with the son, but she said it was closed to discussion. I said at least get one you can actually work in a safe manner. argh I’m not going in that house, that’s sure.

  47. 47
    trollhattan says:

    @Josie:

    chachalacas

    Made me look. I was sure it was an obscure Sly Stone reference.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    I am far more worried about the other end of the gun. The one theoretically pointing away from the operator. I could give a shit about what a shooter feels or how wet their pants get or just about anything relating to the shooter. I worry about what comes out of the muzzle of the gun and where it goes. I don’t need to understand getting wood over being able to kill people. I just need to not be around when some asshole decides one day to exercise his right to stupidity with a gun. But seeing as how we can’t change his right to stupidity or where he/she practices it but we can change his right to have deadly weapons to prove it with, I say lets get rid of the guns.

  49. 49
    cathyx says:

    I think any fetish is weird.

  50. 50
    Raven says:

    @muddy: “with a bullet in the chamber and cocked. ”

    That is one bad fucking idea right there.

    eta, this is a stupid question but just what action can’t she work, pulling the hammer back?

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:

    @muddy:

    I know a woman who has a mentally ill adult son living with her, and he has 4 guns. She wanted one, so he gave her the 45. She is tiny and can’t work the action, so it stays in her nightstand with a bullet in the chamber and cocked. Hopefully her she never knocks it over and the thing goes off. I said I thought it was stupid to have guns in the house at all, with the son, but she said it was closed to discussion. I said at least get one you can actually work in a safe manner. argh I’m not going in that house, that’s sure.

    Before Sandy Hook I might have chuckled at that story. Now, it’s “holy shit, do an intervention, stat!”

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    So true. So true.

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dedc79: Nah, that was written by a gun nut. Seriously. Nuts.

    @trollhattan:

    I was sure it was an obscure Sly Stone reference

    I that case it would have started with “Boom.”

  54. 54
    SatanicPanic says:

    @muddy: your story about the lady with the mentally ill son is making me anxious

  55. 55
    muddy says:

    @Raven: No, it’s the slide thing on top. Been long time I don’t remember name.

  56. 56
    Raven says:

    @muddy: Slide.

  57. 57
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I think Walter needs to get out more. To someplace besides the range. Dude be wack.

  58. 58
    muddy says:

    @trollhattan: @SatanicPanic: Me too. But I and her best friend tried and she just shut it down, hard. The weird thing is she’s a really committed Buddhist, yoga instructor, vegetarian, super politically liberal, physically campaigned for Obama in NC.

    This came out after Sandy Hook, when friend A was talking to her on the phone saying, “People like us who don’t own guns..” (just assuming) and got an earful. I said to A, I bet you forgot how southern she was from the long agos (originally from rural Florida). A was amazed, I was less so. But it’s so against everything she has built her life around, it’s quite bizarre. And I heard she will get it out if she sees suspicious people down by the street. She lives in town, in a decent area, it’s silly.

    By now I am thinking mental son came by it honestly. But he bought the guns legally, and I don’t know what you could really do about it, except never go in there again.

  59. 59
    muddy says:

    @Raven: LOL that was sweet.

  60. 60
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I suspect I could find a number of gun owners around here, east Dallas, that would agree with his description. I especially liked this description:

    You start to entertain scenarios that might not occur to you if you didn’t shoot.

    Isn’t this what we accuse 2nd amendment people of doing?

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cathyx: If it wasn’t weird, it would wouldn’t be a fetish. Sort of definitionally.

  62. 62
    trollhattan says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    I’m thinking of somebody named Zimmerman, and his first name isn’t Bob.

  63. 63
    Raven says:

    @muddy: I had a meditation leader in the ATL who was a gun and bow nut.

  64. 64
    trollhattan says:

    @muddy:

    Sticky situation and yeah, like you I’d steer well clear. But, is the son strictly a homebody or does he go out on his own?

  65. 65
    muddy says:

    @Raven: What is ATL?

  66. 66
    Short Bus Bully says:

    THIS IS MY RIFLE, THIS IS MY GUN!!

    Kinky fucker.

  67. 67
    trollhattan says:

    @Raven:

    “Serenity now!”

  68. 68
    Raven says:

    @muddy: Atlanta.

  69. 69
    Schlemizel says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    I get the fetish part but don’t see it as wankery. I think he really feels these things & is revealing a thought process that does not get enough attention. These people are scary

  70. 70
    Raven says:

    @trollhattan: She did social work in prisons and was a really great person.

  71. 71
    mainmati says:

    @Baud: Huh??? Is this meant as snark? Conservative men are always the first to regulate what women do with their bodies. They could care less what women think or feel.

  72. 72
    Baud says:

    @mainmati:

    Really? You really have to ask?

  73. 73
    cathyx says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Not if you look up the definition. There is nothing mentioned about it being weird.

  74. 74
    muddy says:

    @Raven: I could see that the meditation would be super for bow hunting. You have to be so still.

  75. 75
    donovong says:

    I was born and raised in the south. I grew up around guns. My father was a deputy sheriff and had guns in the house all the time. I learned to shoot when I was twelve and like someone above, I used to go to the local rock quarry and shoot any time I got the urge. I became quite good at it.

    I went into the Air Force at the age of 19 and was assigned to weapons systems security (protecting nukes, chemical weapons, etc.) and was trained in anti-terror tactics during the heyday of the PLO and Bader Meinhof. I was qualified on 8 different weapons, as a marksman on the M-16 and handgun. I fired thousands of rounds in practice for years and was required to use weapons on three different occasions for their intended purpose.

    There is a type of “muscle memory” associated with weapons training, just like there is in bowling or pitching a baseball, especially if you use the same weapon consistently. You are trained to the point where, when you pick up a gun, your brain automatically begins to control your breathing, etc. That’s why we practiced so much.

    But, the rest of that guy’s article reads like a porn novel or something. A gun is a tool – a tool of destruction and death, and anybody who feels about them the way that idiot does has no business being in the same room as one, much less thinking about using it.

    Just my two cents worth.

  76. 76
    ant says:

    @Baud:

    I thought you were going to link to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smioOkwR3lw

  77. 77
    Raven says:

    @muddy: Not hunting, target shooting and you are correct.

  78. 78
    SatanicPanic says:

    @muddy: yeah, what can you do? scary though.

  79. 79
    Raven says:

    @donovong: Stompin around Eglin huh?

  80. 80
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Only people whose neural pathways have been altered by inhalation of vaporized lead at shooting ranges can truly understand the gun issue.

  81. 81
    The Sailor says:

    Look at the folks invited to testify about gun nuts in the Senate hearing. (Hey, they let wommens testify this time! Progress!)

    Every fucking person testifying that is pro gun is fucking nuts.

    I grew up in a hunting family. I know guns and hunting. I know knives and skinning. And I’ve lived & worked in some of the toughest neighborhoods in America. (Rock & roll doesn’t pay as well as some people think.)

    I’ve never needed a gun.

    If you want to kill your own food, a 30 caliber rifle is probably your best choice. Maybe a 3 clip at most.

    Now, if you’re paranoid about the gubmint taking your 2nd amment arms away? Well, sure, your .223 rounds is gonna take a lot of school children out.

    But not very many cops. and then hell will rain down on you worse than your even most violent xian persecution fantasies would lead you to believe.

  82. 82
  83. 83
    Doug Galt says:

    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.

    This sounds like something I might send Andrew Sullivan to troll him.

  84. 84
    jl says:

    “the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system. It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.”

    Not sure whether I understand. Sort of like a coke habit?

    Personally I hope gun nuts share their real, rather obsessive fetishistic side more often, and quit yelling their goofy extremist and bizarre interpretations of the second amendment.

    If the NRA gets its way, we will have people who think like that with rocket launchers walking around, all them with this appetite, this desire for a small acute struggle you can win (say, with that Ahole in the pickup that just cut you off) rattling around in the back of the heads just stock full of very poor impulse control.

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cathyx: If it was normal, would it be called a fetish? No, it would be what everyone likes and thus normal.

  86. 86
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    David Gregory as a “fresh faced voice of reason?” I’ll just leave it at that…

  87. 87
    donovong says:

    @Raven: Only on temporary duty, like several others.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    MCA1 says:

    We need to start deriding these crackpot losers, and we need to do it louder. Kirn’s entire premise is utter horseshit. And I’m yet another poster here who grew up in the Midwest hunting ducks and pheasants, and absolutely “gets” guns.

    There’s nothing inherently different about the use of guns as a hobby, and the fact you might find new friends and community practicing it, than there is about, say, playing tennis. With the exception that playing tennis doesn’t involve an instrument designed for the killing of humans. They both change your physiology and the way you view the world.

    Walter Kirn: loser and pussy.

  90. 90
    Raven says:

    @donovong: I thought everyone in the Air Force was always TDY! Got that xtra $$$!

  91. 91
    donovong says:

    @Raven: Hah! Those 60’s look awfully familiar! I never made it to Korea, and always regretted it because my dad was there during the war and I wanted to see some of the country.

    I did get to see plenty enough of other areas in Asia, however. And Europe.

  92. 92
    donovong says:

    @Raven: Extra money? WTF?!? How did I miss out?

  93. 93
    scav says:

    @Doug Galt: Christ, it sounded to me like someone trying to explain and justify rape. Not a clue where it came from concretely, must be the general creepy vibe. Only rapists getting to write rape laws does sort of fall out of it though.

  94. 94
    quannlace says:

    It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.

    Funny…that’s how I feel when I’m plucking hornworms off my tomato plants.

  95. 95
    Raven says:

    @donovong: Korea was one nasty cold/hot frikin place. I was there in 67-68 and it was still pretty primitive north of Seoul.

  96. 96
    muddy says:

    @quannlace: And making a dog sit without speaking because you have a cookie in your hand.

  97. 97
    Raven says:

    @muddy: Lil Bit perked up when I read that!

  98. 98
    jl says:

    @Raven:

    But from what I gather, they did not train you to have an urge and desire to seek out emergencies and close quarter targets where you would have to resort to point shooting.

    I am not so sure that is true of mistermix’s buddy.

    My history of gun use involved the urge that the damn jack rabbit or coyote was hit first time, or the steer clean dead first shot, or the potential bear skeered off. I don’t recall other odd urges becoming part of my body. But, hey, I’m not a gun nut, what do I know?

  99. 99
    cathyx says:

    @Raven: Sounds like you have a fetish.

  100. 100
    muddy says:

    @Raven: My dog Sawyer and I are going to pick up his new little sister tomorrow morning, I am beyond excited. I know he will be once he finds out.

    This is Sawyer after a road trip + dog park

  101. 101
    Raven says:

    @muddy: As my bride says, “he’s asleeping”!

  102. 102
    Raven says:

    @jl: Agree, this shit was real not some comic book.

  103. 103
    muddy says:

    And “asnoring”. He’s a big boy, upwards of 80#, he’s 2. The new one is 6 months.

  104. 104
    Larv says:

    I tried to read the article, but I just couldn’t make it all the way through. It’s a strange blend of thoughtfulness and raw fetishism. This, for example, is self-delusion on a grand scale:

    When I shoot at the range, I don’t feel personally powerful but like the custodian of something powerful.

    It’s like saying: Sure, I have a magic genie who will grant my every wish, but it’s no big deal because it’s actually the genie who has the power – I’m just his custodian, which is kind of meh. Bullshit. He’s trying to draw a distinction where none exists. He clearly gets an enormous thrill out of holding and shooting a gun. The whole bit about guns altering his neural pathways is probably just the adrenaline rush he gets from satisfying his fetish.
    Also, the passage where he describes drawing a gun on some guy reads much more like a recurrent fantasy than something which actually happened. I’m not saying it didn’t, but I think he’s relived it in his mind so often that it’s hard to tell fact from fantasy. “Its rubber grip met my hand and melded with it in a smooth, reflexive motion.” Seriously? Ick.

  105. 105
    muddy says:

    @Larv: Reads like a Cosmo “how to please your man” article – “Take a firm grip, as on a tennis racket..”

  106. 106
    cathyx says:

    @Larv: Here’s the definition of fetish:

    an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.

    I think it’s a fetish all right.

  107. 107
    redshirt says:

    I kneeled to Koreans. TKD demands it.

  108. 108
    Kanamit says:

    Great title, MM.

  109. 109
    themann1086 says:

    I use to shoot at a target range a few times a year when I was a kid. This is beyond creepy.

  110. 110
    Corner Stone says:

    @muddy:

    Reads like a Cosmo “how to please your man” article – “Take a firm grip, as on a tennis racket..”

    So wrong.

  111. 111
    gbear says:

    I know just how Kim feels, except with vinyl records. The anticipation that comes from flipping the cuing arm and watching the needle drop is to die for.

    I’ll settle for a burst of noise rather than the bursting of whatever is on the receiving end of that wankers bullet.

  112. 112

    I think this kind of creepy obsessive gun love is taken very seriously in Washington by people who would not personally be willing to touch a firearm. In particular, I think Village journalists eat it up. I’ve noticed a consistent self-delusion where they all think they’re rolled-up-shirtsleeves blue collar joes who would have been perfectly at home as cowboys or assembly line workers – but they personally were so brilliant they managed to score a really great high paying job. They think they’re spiritually Real Merkins, and since they know fuck-all about America they rely on John Wayne movies to tell them who they are just a few dollars away from being.

  113. 113
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Chacun a son gout.

  114. 114
    muddy says:

    @Corner Stone: But but it said!!! For real this is an actual sentence I read in Cosmo in the late 80’s and I could never forget it.

    I never had anyone yell at me and tell me to stop.

  115. 115
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Corner Stone: And even wrong from a tennis perspective. Once you get beyond beginner level, tight-grip is one of the first things you try to un-learn.

  116. 116
    g says:

    “the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system. It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.”

    So…you have an urge to shoot deer running through the woods, OK, I get that.

    But do you have an “urge” to stand at a range, shooting at a target? Is that a “small, acute struggle that you can win”?

    So what else does the gun owner have an “urge” or “appetite, this desire” for – killing people?

    He sounds like the profile of a serial killer.

  117. 117
    g says:

    Oh, and why, then, if they all have these profound mystical and appetite-building “urges”, do they then pontificate that the gun is only a “tool” or an “inanimate object,” blameless?

    A garden spade is a tool. A chainsaw is a tool. I don’t get an “urge” that alters my nerve pathways, to dig in the dirt or cut logs into stove-lenght.

    this is fetishsm, pure and simple.

  118. 118
    mainmati says:

    @Baud: Yeah, my dumb.

  119. 119
    muddy says:

    Oh, I dunno, once the chainsaw is running, I’m all choppy choppy choppy!

  120. 120
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Doug Galt: Have you bought the membership to his site? Isn’t he going behind a paywall tomorrow.

  121. 121
    scav says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Chacun a son gouat.

    ETA Although Chacun a son gun flows better, the strikethroughs got a bit involved.

  122. 122

    At the shooting range I feel the empowerment and the responsibility. He presents a false either/or choice.
    In the seminal film Spies Like Us, the commander of the underground laser missle defense system justifies launching a nuke from Russia to test the system by saying, “An unused weapon is a useless weapon”. There is something to that.
    The status of being a gun owner brings using it into the decision tree. I grew up in a redneck town hunting and shooting for fun. I have heard people say, “Wish I had my gun.” too many times to count. I personally would never brandish a gun without the intention of using it, but there are plenty of people that would threaten with their gun. It’s quite the “topper” (or a one way ticket to the morgue if your bluff is called).
    I live in CA so the proposed federal gun law changes are mostly in place on the state level. But the push to relax CCW and other laws in other states frightens me.

  123. 123
    kc says:

    He’s gotta write shit to get paid. That’s all.

  124. 124
    Calouste says:

    It might have already been said upthread, but the man sounds like an addict.

  125. 125
    Wat says:

    Every time a gun nut tries to mansplain why there’s NO WAI that anybody but a gun nut can have an opinion on guns, it winds up sounding more like an explanation for why they’re too paranoid, too obsessed with “getting bad guys”, or just straight-up too crazy to be trusted with a weapon…

  126. 126
    cokane says:

    Really cant stand Walter Kirn.

    At least his essays/nonfiction. He relies on the argument from authority all the time. On Bill Maher’s show he talked about “growing up mormon” and used that to filibuster a conversation about Romney, but ended up offering no insight. He consistently falls back on using the fact the grew up in the Midwest to opine on the thoughts of “real americans” or “midwesterners” and yet his analysis is so tepid, so shallow–and insulting to someone who also grew up in the midwest. Not too mention that his idea of midwest completely excludes blacks, who are a substantial part of just about every large midwestern city.

    Once again, he falls back on argument from authority to write something completely uninteresting. Nonfiction writers who need to write about issues of the day and can only exert enough effort to probe their own pasts are hacks.

  127. 127
    Tripod says:

    “Big Man With A Gun”

    written and composed by Trent Reznor

    I am a big man
    (yes I am)
    and I have a big gun
    got me a big old Dick and I
    I like to have fun
    held against your forehead
    I’ll make you suck it
    maybe I’ll put a hole in your head
    you know, just for the fuck of it
    I can reduce you if I want
    I can devour
    I’m hard as fucking steel, and I’ve got the power
    I’m every inch a man, and I’ll show you somehow
    me and my fucking gun
    nothing can stop me now
    shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot
    I’m going to come all over you
    me and my fucking gun
    me and my fucking gun

  128. 128
    cokane says:

    also saying guns are not political is absurd. as nate silver showed in an excellent piece, gun ownership is one of the best predictors of party identification. such utter hackery

  129. 129
    Hawes says:

    I liked Kirn’s article. I think he explains that gun owners feel under siege, and that this is probably linked to the reasons why they are gun owners in the first place. As someone who has done “varmint removal” there really is a power in using a gun. I just don’t particularly get off on it.

    I think he also manages to show how a gun culture can spread and how it can be heavily influenced by the paranoid.

    Just because mistermix had a different experience with guns doesn’t make Kirns’ invalid.

  130. 130
    handsmile says:

    Fans of Walter Kirn, and this thread reveals he has many, might wish to consult his opus, Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever (2009).

    http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Mer.....B004MPRWPA

    If the title alone doesn’t suffice as a clue, let me assure you it is one of the most suffocatingly overweening and self-congratulatory epistles to vanity and privilege ever written. Each page is an effective emetic to any reader possessed of a heart or a soul or simple common decency. It is, “in the parlance of our times,” a real wankfest.

    Of course, to be scrupulously fair, Mr. Kirn is also the author of Up in the Air, which was adapted into a terrific and poignant movie starring George Clooney.

  131. 131
    MattR says:

    @Hawes:

    Just because mistermix had a different experience with guns doesn’t make Kirns’ invalid.

    It does if Kirn is trying to claim his experience is a universal truth.

    Separately, I was on the periphery of a gun conversation among coworkers in Atlanta today. One point I heard which I had not considered but which made some sense is that mothers with guns may actually be more dangerous than the rest of the population because they are more likely to act instinctively to protect their children and then to worry about the consequences later. FWIW, this point was made by a mother who is a gun owner.

  132. 132
    Jamey says:

    Gee, thanks Walt. Now I know what Thumbsucker was really about.

  133. 133
    Corner Stone says:

    @handsmile: Do you talk like this in real life?

  134. 134
    phil says:

    @Wat: just straight-up too crazy to be trusted with a weapon…

    This one. I grew up in the midwest. Learned to shoot guns at a young age, and don’t trust anyone with a gun who can’t live without it or talks too much about them.

  135. 135
    Felanius Kootea says:

    Merde!

  136. 136
    Not Just Skeet says:

    @MattR: I didn’t see where Kirn made that claim.

    Perhaps Kirn deserves to be derided as a wanker for that piece. But anytime you try to write truly about the emotions triggered by one’s hobbies, you open yourself up to charges of wankery. Ever read any of the thousands of essay about the magic of fly fishing? Or the amazing beauty of some car? Or, for that matter, about how gosh darn smart and perceptive someone’s cat is? To the unitiated (or to the sane, depending on your point of view) that stuff reads like fetishistic nonsense.

    But what is going on here, of course, is that Kirn is being propped up as proxy for “evil gun owners” so folks can get all exercised about that.

  137. 137
    Valdivia says:

    @handsmile:

    I will forgive him only because of that movie because that mormon piece he wrote this summer was truly awful, though probably not as creepy as his ode to the gun.

  138. 138
    cokane says:

    so i read like half of it and then gave up…

    basically it’s a magazine length piece to describe that the gun is his binky.

  139. 139
    Gus says:

    Having shot my share of rifles, pistols and shotguns, but not having fired any of them for about 20 years, I think he’s full of shit. And has very strong feelings of sexual inadequacy that the guns compensate for. Sullivan would give this git a poseur alert. As a native of rural Minnesota, I don’t want this shithead to think he’s speaking for me.

  140. 140
    Petorado says:

    As a hunter for multiple decades, my experience with other hunters is that guns are spoken of with no greater reverence than backpacks or binoculars. A really good pair of boots, for elk hunters, now that will get them talking with great passion.

    It’s the “security” gun owners, I’ve found, that get all wound-up about guns, ballistics, and brands. Whatever they have isn’t enough, and they pine for more firepower and more volume.

    It’s the fetish side of guns that I hope new regulations will help stem. Not that you can regulate away obsessiveness about weapons, but maybe the national attitude towards guns can shift enough that the broader public will once again begin to look at fanatical gun obsession as weird, rather than a “patriotic” expression of 2nd Amendment interpretations.

  141. 141
    Fred says:

    Sex, smoking and shooting a gun? Three activities that invove using a phalic shaped bit of equipment performing a repeitious motion to satisfy a primal urge.
    You’ll take my dick when you pry it from…

  142. 142
    Hunter says:

    I learned to shoot when I was about twelve. It was a skill that I wanted to master (my mother’s family were hunters at need — backwoods North Carolina). I’ve also been a dancer and a potter. All three disciplines — and I’m sure, others — do alter your neural pathways and your reflexes. It’s called muscle memory, and the goal is to get to the point where you don’t have to think consciously about the actions — your body remembers. (Sex, you start off ahead — your body already has a good idea what it wants to do.)

    I suppose, if one were so inclined, one could read a lot of spiritual meaning into shooting, or dancing, or throwing pots. One could wax eloquent, I suspect, on the Zen of cooking. Or one can just consider all those things to be what they are — skills that one masters. Sex, in my estimation, is deeper and more subtle, more situational, but there’s a lot of room for individual interpretation there. Smoking’s just a habit.

    What a blowhard.

  143. 143
    sherparick says:

    Yes, I call BS.

    I shot firearms many times and I did find it “fun.” And like any sport or skill that you practice, I am you develop muscle memory and new neural paths in the brain as you get good at that skill, just like a golf swing for instance (unfortunately, for me on the golf swing one neural path I developed was lifting my head). I guess we can make a fetish out any human thing we do (think of all art and writing, and it is often good writing, about baseball), but I don’t see any baseball types saying the game would be better without rules. Although the shooting was always fun, the Army taught me that firearms are dangerous and powerful tools and that regulations and procedures were necessary to keep people from getting kill when you did not intend to kill them. People may have the right in the U.S. to own firearms, but they don’t have a right to own them without reasonable regulations and training that will keep themselves and others safe. Universal background checks, universal registration, magazine restrictions, safety locks, and mandatory safety classes should not interfere with anyone’s zen moment with their AR-15.

  144. 144
    El Cid says:

    Doesn’t darn near every writer of reflexive essay pieces write the exact same thing about how they were changed by motorcycle riding, or hang-gliding, or scuba-diving, or dancing, or baseball, or rock-climbing, or any number of activities combining some sort of complex motor skills employed in some sensory-rich yet either dangerous or difficult physical challenge?

    Hell, don’t they write the same things about how going to a concert / concerts / their first concert changes and/or changed them at a cellular level?

  145. 145
    Paul in KY says:

    @Raven: Just wait ;-)

  146. 146
    Paul in KY says:

    @muddy: That 45 will go off one day. The old lady is crazy to keep it cocked. Also bad for the weapon’s firing spring, etc.

  147. 147
    Paul in KY says:

    @Raven: These cant be AF personnel, the black soldier’s mustache is clearly out of reg ;-)

  148. 148
    blondie says:

    You’re from rural South Dakota? I grew up in rural South Dakota, too!

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