The topic of today’s post comes from Gin & Tacos. If it hasn’t come up in your newsfeed yet, the story is about a shooting range instructor in Kingman, AZ who was killed when a 9 year old girl lost control of what appears to be a 9mm Mini-Uzi and shot him in the head. Why did I bother to point out that it was a Mini-Uzi instead of just writing Uzi? Well because the Mini-Uzi is smaller, lighter, and thus arguably more difficult to control in full-auto, particularly when you are a 9 year old girl, thus making this accident all the more infuriating. As far as I’m concerned, though the girl actually pulled the trigger, this instructor basically killed himself.
As you can see in the video, the instructor is not holding the weapon when the girl fires it, even when he tells her to go full auto. Of course pointing that out is ignoring the elephant in the room, especially considering that this is not the first time we’ve seen a fatal accident involving a young child and an Uzi. The real issue here is whether children of that age should be handling firearms, and the answer should be a flat out “no.”
Now me saying that children of 8 or 9 shouldn’t handle firearms on a range would likely trigger massive bowel-destructing pants explosions among many in the US. “Surely,” they will say with righteous indignation, “if we restrict firearms usage for children under 10 or even worse, 16, the government won’t stop there. Next it will be 18, and then 21, and finally they’ll scrap the whole 2nd Amendment, confiscate everyone’s guns with the help of deputized urban gang members(wink, wink!), and then make the knockout game legal!” If the reader is skeptical as to whether such a proposal would garner such an irrational reaction, it is only because you do not know the American gun nut.
Gun nut gets thrown around a lot, but I feel that few people really bother to understand what the term means. I keenly realize that for this reason, a casual observer could easily mistake me for a “gun nut,” given my firearms knowledge and experience. I have fired all sorts of different weapons from a lowly .22 to a Browning M2 .50 cal. Truth be told, however, all romantic notions about guns left me after some time in the army. For one thing, the US Army has an uncanny ability to make any seemingly exciting activity incredibly boring, to the point where you just want it to end. Both times I had to qualify with my M249 were welcomed strictly for a change in pace; but with few exceptions the day as a whole was painfully tedious. I think my drastically less-than-stellar military career instilled a sense of maturity toward firearms in me. I also acquired an extremely strict sense of safety consciousness when it comes to firearms. So just because I can, if necessary, speak at length about my experiences owning and/or firing all sorts of different firearms, there is a world of difference between myself and the gun nut, and I shall explore that difference henceforth.
Is a gun nut someone who is highly knowledgeable about guns? Hardly. The gun nut isn’t merely knowledgeable about guns. He obsesses over every little detail. Not only that, he constantly needs to remind everyone about his knowledge. He’s the kind of guy who just relishes the opportunity to tell someone that “it’s a magazine and not a clip.” If someone calls for restrictions on “assault rifles” after someone guns down multiple people with an AR-15, he’s the first to loudly point out that this AR-15 could not possibly be considered an “assault rifle” because the murder weapon did not have full-auto capability, and the rigid taxonomic nomenclature of firearms categorically demands that feature in order to be included in the assault rifle species.
The gun nut needs to flaunt his knowledge, no matter how incorrect or semantically-based it is, because guns are the foundation of his masculinity. In this part of his life, his psyche, he never matured past that teenage boy phase, when a fascination with firearms is understandable. He needs you to know that he’s knowledgeable about guns, and the more ignorant you are about them the more superior he feels. Did you just call an AK47 a “machine gun?” Of course you would. He’s a real man because he’s got an AR-15 with Magpul after-market parts and a Trijicon ACOG sight. But see he doesn’t merely own an AR-15, he “runs” an AR. Some weekends he “runs” an AK.
He’ll take all kinds of tactical courses, just in case he has to defend his wife and kids from an all-out urban guerrilla assault that turns his suburban neighborhood into the Sunni triangle. He learns fire and movement, the “urban” prone position, and his instructor was a veteran Army Ranger so, you know, it’s as if he can claim Ranger training himself! When he hears about the latest spree shooting, he imagines what he would do in that situation. If only he had been in that Aurora movie theater when that batshit-insane punk, Holmes, came in and opened fire. If he had been there with his trusty Glock, er, secondary weapon, he would have triple-tapped that disturbed young man, two in the body, one in the head. Mozambique drill, baby.
Of course he is a responsible gun owner. He always practices safety when he’s out in the desert shooting at old refrigerators, perhaps cracking open a few beers with his buddies while they do it. When showing a gun to a small child or some girl he met at a Toby Keith concert, he’s sure to prattle on about safety and the fundamentals. Of course when he’s out with his buddies he can relax a bit. After all, these are real men and they are all expert firearms handlers. He’s pretty sure Brad already ran a chamber check on that weapon. No need to be a pussy and check again. And of course he keeps his guns loaded all the time, just in case. What? You don’t think that gun needs to be loaded when you’re snowed in at your private cabin in the woods? Why? Are you uncomfortable around guns?
The thought of losing his guns terrifies the otherwise fearless gun nut. He’s sure that any given year the Democrats are going to introduce some sweeping legislation that will lead to his precious guns being confiscated. In fact he’s been sure the Democrats have been about to do just that for the past twenty years or so. Every mass shooting he’s waiting for it, the confiscatory gun ban that never comes. Of course that didn’t stop the bastards from attempting to restrict the manufacture and sale of magazines(not “clips,” dammit!) with a capacity of over 15 rounds. That’s how it started in Germany right? Remember hi capacity magazines in the Third Reich or occupied Poland? I didn’t think so. That’s because first they came for the mags, then they came for the Jews!
To the gun nut, everyone must know that he owns guns and knows a lot about them. He must have gun-themed bumper stickers on his truck. He wears t-shirts with gun manufacturer logos, Heckler and Koch, Colt, Fabrique Nationale. Well okay not that last one, sounds a bit “faggy.” But dammit if that FN P90 they make isn’t sexy as hell. Any criticism of his constant gun talk, gun-themed wardrobe, library, or dining room table centerpiece is taken as a sign of your unmanly, pathetic discomfort around guns. You probably can’t even tell the difference between an AKM and an AK74! Maybe you’ll learn some time after your testicles drop.
Of course the whole family needs to be involved too. Mom needs to have firearms training to defend the home while daddy is away. If something goes down when they are out in public, daddy will rely on mommy to cover his movement and vice versa. The two boys, aged 8 and 9 and named Cody and Travis de facto if not de jure, pose in front of the Christmas tree with their most recent presents- Ruger Mini-14 carbines. They’d been dreaming of getting their own weapons ever since a couple years ago when daddy brought them Machine Gun Inventors coloring books from the gun show. Even the apple of daddy’s eye, 12 year old Madison, has a light weight Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. She’s saving herself for marriage and when she goes off to college she’ll need it to defend that sweet, sweet vagina. As much as it disgusts daddy, most people shot him disturbing looks when he tried to go out in public with his AR-15 slung on his back. So when he goes out he’s always got his Glock 17 by his side, ready to lay down the law lest some urban youth try to play the knockout game with him.
That, my dear non-American readers, is the gun nut. You’ll will find him in many different configurations but certain elements are always there. There’s the conflation of guns with masculinity. The need to be associated with firearms and to show off knowledge about firearms. The questionable attitude toward safety. The insistence that guns play a role in every aspect of one’s life. The veritable orgasm at the idea of burning off some rounds in full-auto. In short, the fetishization of guns. And as the recent Uzi incident indicates, the result is often death if not maiming.
Personally I am not a staunch advocate of gun control. I am an advocate of certain people growing the fuck up and giving firearms the proper respect that demand so as to ensure both legal and safe usage at all times. You know what? Yes, you can say I’m “uncomfortable” around guns if you want. I’m so uncomfortable around guns that I always maintain positive control of a weapon to make sure the muzzle is aimed in a safe direction every time. My finger is never in the trigger guard until I’m about to shoot. I’m so effeminately uncomfortable around guns that I check chambers and rack actions numerous times, every time, whether I saw you check it yourself or not. Apparently it’s just my limp-wristed, ingrained habit. I am intentionally “uncomfortable” around guns and it is precisely for that very reason that I have fired off literally thousands of rounds of various calibers over more than a decade without having a single accident of any kind whatsoever. Maybe that discomfort is in fact mindfulness and responsibility. Maybe the instructors of that range in Kingman, Arizona should have been a little more uncomfortable about the idea of pre-pubescent children handling fully-automatic firearms.