Monday, 24 December 2012


It was just a cold,lifeless piece of metal,and yet I knew it had a life of it's own.It passed from one hand,to another,to another.From a WWII veteran to a collector of historical artifacts via a go between,someone who had arranged the deal.And each of these men had a different attitude about the thing.The veteran simply wanted to be rid of it,for reasons imaginable,though likely fully known only to himself.The collector was interested in it's historical significance, and the thing certainly had that in spades.The middle man had no specific feelings toward the thing,so far as I know.He was just happy to help out two friends.And the thing?It was a gun,a Luger,to be specific,WWII era,and so it certainly had a life of it's own.If only guns could talk.

It was the first time I had ever seen a real gun.I knew about them though.War movies and Cowboy and Indian movies,staples of 1960's television showed me how they were used,and what they could do.So,as a boy in grade school,I was transfixed by the gun as it lay on our kitchen table,then passed from hand to hand.A real gun within arms length.

There was one thing that I knew about the gun right there and then,that television could never have taught me,and the knowing of it was innate,instinctual.The gun demanded attention.It was a psychological entity,almost a spirit,and it's presence could never be ignored.

Folk singer Steve Earle called a pistol"The Devil's right hand."It may not be the only way to think of guns,but it's one metaphor,among many that serves to open the door of thought on the subject of guns.And it's not so much that cold piece of steel that I want you to think about,as I relay some stories about guns from my own life.It's that metaphorical gun,that psychological entity you need to keep in mind,because this is a story about guns and attitudes.Guns and attitudes!So,as you read,please keep some of your own attitudes in mind.

I am Canadian.I expect that fact will inform some of my attitudes towards fire arms,in the same way that I expect being American might inform a persons attitudes in a very different way.If you live south of the forty Ninth,I expect that your visceral experiance of weapons,is by virtue of nationality,quite different from my own.That's okay.I don't mean to criticize,I just want you to apply clean,clear thought to the subject.

Metaphorical guns tend to get attached to many different things,in the sense of connotative meaning.For instance,guns have come to be associated with some of the following concepts:Patriotism,National/Ethnic Pride,Colonialism,Pioneering,Survival,Safety,Freedom,Self Defense.Also:Outlaws,crime,gangs,rebellion and rebels,both in the personal and the political sense,and self sufficency.

Tragedy!That's the one we are all thinking about just now.And,American Exceptionalism!That once  grand and noble idea,or,at least a worthy myth.

American Exceptionalism.We'll come back,full circle to that one.

                                                                    TO BE CONTINUED.

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