THE THRILL

I'm shooting at my mother, and it feels good. Ripping that stupid smile right off her face, I am. Phony bitch. I'll teach you to give me shit. No more lies. Can't hide now-I've got you in my sights. Mommy, your little boy's a man now, and he's gonna bury you. Tonight's different. You can't fuck with my head tonight. Tonight I got a gun.

BO! BO! BO-BO-BO-BO! Nineteen bullets to a clip, mommy, and with each chunk of smoking lead, a piece of my childhood leaves me. Your head's full of holes, oh my sweet, serpentine mumsy. I blew that fake smile away, wiped it clean away. Those 9mm caps tore your throat open down to the bone. Your glasses are smashed, but you won't need them. You can't smell the sweet lead particles, either. You can't smell shit anymore."

I collect the loose brass and walk outside into the dewy moonlight. Everything's fresh. I exhale like I just shot my goo. Relief. Tranquility. I crank the ignition and I pull away with a dopey grin spreading wider and wider.

 

THE ENEMY

The not-so-secret agenda of the state and its apologists is clear: Disarm peaceful citizen to render them powerless. Turn law-abiding Americans into criminals with the stroke of a legislative pen....If people refuse to surrender or destroy their weapons, they will be dealt with by heavily armed police; they will be imprisoned, fined, perhaps even shot if they try to defend their constitutional-nay, their human-rights.

-The Company of Freemen newsletter

 

Above and beyond the smell of greenish hot dogs and weeks-old chili whiffles the meaty, waxy smell of men. Mountain men, desert men, motorcycle men. Grizzled, sunbaked, lizard-skinned men. Bushy sideburns, greasy cowlicks. Pursed, wormy lips. Unbuttoned flannel shirts. Hunting vests. Wheelbarrow guts slung over rawhide belts and denim jeans. The sworn enemies of wimp culture. Men with gonads the size of Olympic shot puts. Men with dicks hard enough to chop wood. Men whose farts could start forest fires. Barrel-chested, tobacco-spitting, bitch-humping MEN.

The men mill around in a cavernous airplane hangar painted WHITE. A stray wife or two tags along, followed by buck-toothed, straw-haired children. Together the families learn how to make guns; how to dismantle them after they've made them; how to clean and oil them; how to make bullets; and how to recycle the shells and casings after they've fired them.

A tall blond man from Utah is selling frozen meat A gabby Oklahoman demonstrates antique pistols. His left thumb is missing its top joint. It was blown off during a shooting accident Another vendor stands magisterially behind a Tommy Gun, which is ensconced shrinelike in a padded guitar case. A man and his son silently scrutinize it "Alright," says the father to the vendor after several moments of wordless reverence, "let me touch it."

We're at a gun show, and these, mon ami, are the GUNFOLK. Who are they? People who enjoy such things as the soul-tickling sight of a father and son cleaning their rifles together; the tender image of a mother and daughter cooking up homemade ammo like so many Christmas cookies; and the soft-hued scene of a wheelchair-bound boy taking potshots at waterfowl. They are patriots. Freedom-lovers. Constitutionalists. Pioneers. Honest and upright, valorous and gallant. TRUE Americans.

But the gunfolk are worried. They're being painted into a corner. One by one, like clothes from a stripper, their rights are being removed. The gun grabbers are coming.

They're coming to disarm the gunfolk. Bans on semiautomatics and Saturday night specials were just the beginning. Now Big Brother wants a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases. There are currently over a hundred bills in Congress which aim to curtail gun rights. With each creeping measure, law-abiding gunfolk become felons.

Why is the government doing this? Because, the gunfolk will tell you, they're commie sons-of-bitches. Just like all commies, they want to render us as docile as bunny rabbits on Valium. "Register all firearms, under any pretense," reads the Communist Rules for Revolution, "as a prelude to confiscating them." Pinko rats love to swipe your guns. The planet's most repressive regimes, such as those in China, El Salvador, and Nicaragua forbid their minions from arming themselves. Those who disobey have to stare down a firing squad. "If the opposition disarms," wrote Joseph Stalin, "well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves." As the year 2000 approaches, the neo-Bolsheviks are gunning for our guns. Along with high taxes and a corrupt banking system, it's all part of THE CONSPIRACY.

"We're marchin' off to the gulags," sighs a bearded elfin gun peddler. "See, what they did-nobody really wanted to stand up for the gun laws. Very apathetic, people are. They'd sell us out for twenty pieces of silver. That's a shame." His voice is high-pitched, like a power saw chewing through a stubborn log. Though he travels with the show, he lives in Kentucky-let's call him Colonel Sanders. He sits behind a weatherbeaten table upon which are spread rusting gun parts and an 84mm rocket launcher which can blow through eighteen inches of titanium steel.

"I hate being out here in these liberal states," he grouses. "I don't know what's gonna happen to this country. People are just standing in line, getting ready to go to the gulags. The government today wants to come into your bedroom really bad. They're never gonna give up until they get in there, unfortunately."

Gunfolk despise the government far more than any coffeehouse lefty does. Gunfolk inhabit the far, far right, the intergalactic right. They realize that the government assumed power with GUNS. They know that the government maintains power with a billion GUNS pointed at our heads. When the government comes to disarm us, they'll use GUNS to do it. Gunfolk understand that when guns are outlawed, it won't only be outlaws who have guns-the lawmakers will still have them, too.

Proponents of gun control, known to the gunfolk as the ANTIS, never question the government's right to own guns. They say common citizens shouldn't be privy to massive firepower because somebody could get hurt, but they don't acknowledge that the world's governments have always been the Fortune 500 of mass murder. The antis see government as boundlessly benevolent, much as a suckling child cozies up to its mother's sagging teats.

Poppycock, say the gunfolk. Hogwash. Flapdoodle. Politicians are the biggest gang in town, the bookies in a monstrous extortion racket. Big Brother gorges himself on our tax dollars like a mosquito on blood. But the gunfolk ain't havin' it.

They call themselves "freemen," unbeholden to parasitical slave-drivers. They hold an iron conviction that there are fates worse than death, among them living with your tail between your legs. They know that without tax resisters and superior firepower, there wouldn't BE an America.

"Anyplace you can't own a machine gun, you're livin' in Nazi country," says Colonel Sanders. I like this hick little motherfucker. He seems straight-up. I'd trust him with my back turned, which is more than I can say for most people. "Yeah, I'm afraid that humanity's never gonna change," he says, his hairy fist resting on his knee. "That ain't gonna change. What you gotta do is you gotta put distance between yourself and that herd of people....I'm telling you something-you gotta get out of here. They're closing in on ya. You gotta go to Kentucky....Right now, you can get anything you want there. Yeah, you can get full-auto. Gasoline's a dollar a gallon. Cigarettes are six bucks a carton. You can buy a two-hundred-thousand-dollar house for fifty thousand....It's just a different lifestyle. You can see the horizon."

A listener nods his assent. He calls the Golden State "the People's Republic of California."

Colonel Sanders agrees. "This here is unbelievable," he says, shaking his head. "You stand here from this position, you don't see one gun. It's baloney. You might as well go to a flea market-there's T-shirts over there. You can go to a gun show in the South, and that's all it is-GUNS. Unbelievable. I gotta be free. Can't live like this."

The THREAT is everywhere, even at gun shows. It takes men of steel to resist the stomping onslaught of limp-wristed, gun-burning, subhuman offal. So with teeth gritted and abdomens knurled, the gunfolk are ready to FIGHT....

 

THE SCUM

 

Somewhere there are squads of dope-crazed savages numbing through mounds of rubble, selecting razor-edged cudgels to crush your skull the next time you're desperate or foolish enough to venture into their darkness. Down the street-in that shiny new federal office complex-there are covens of sniveling bureaucrats poring over volumes of forgotten laws, looking for some metalegal reason for vaporizing your weapons in a government blast furnace.

-USA.: The Urban Survival Arsenal

 

But it's going so be a TOUGH fight, considering the titanic, suffusive brainwashing machine known as the LIBERAL MEDIA. A bunch of tree-hugging, dope-shooting, meat-shunning, whale-protecting, anus-invading, ivory-tower fruit flies those reporters are, I'll tell ya. They pump their poisonous vomit out through radio speakers, TV screens, and newspapers, favoring slimy penises over clean rifles, crack-puffing rapists over gunfolk.

It's the news media, say the gunfolk, who've engendered sympathy for the looters, dopers, gangsters, scumbags, perverts, hoodlums, arsonists, marauders, pillagers, madmen, killers, animals, muggers, burglars, wackos, malefactors, villains, hooligans, thugs, ruffians, goons, hellcats, cannibals, vandals, barbarians, fiends, vampires, roustabouts, and desperadoes who now roam our streets with impunity. Look! Somebody got shot in a stickup! Here come the paramedics! Hurry! Help that guy! No, not the victim, stupid-the gunman! His pistol recoiled so hard, he has a boo-boo on his hand!

According to the gunfolk, the media lackeys aid the government to ensure that The Conspiracy succeeds without a hitch. And, dag nabbit, is it ever succeeding! Irresponsibility is now considered a virtue. Decadence is looked upon as cute. Welfare is seen as a birthright The muckiest excrescences of primordial slime are touted as high culture. The maggots have arrived.

And they're dining on whitey's corpse. Now, not all gunfolk are white racists, but not all pro basketball players are tall black guys, either. Indeed, gunfolk are an overwhelmingly Caucasian lot: If a 1987 poll is to be trusted, melanin-deficient households are fifty-four percent more likely to contain a gun than those of the so-called "mud people." Gunfolk see European civilization as the primary target of The Conspiracy's "racial-socialists." Western thought, Western customs, even Western skin color are thought to be jeopardized in a global scheme to puree humanity into a grey bowl of raceless oatmeal.

Pro-gun bigotry's apex is found in William Pierce's The Turner Diaries, a withering, paranoid, horribly written novel which the FBI has called "the bible of the racist right." It dares to ask firearms owners' favorite question: "What will you do when they come to take your guns?" The book opens with governmental gun raids which trigger a guerrilla war against "Zionist" overlords, resulting in a holocaust of nonwhites and a new era spearheaded by rifle-totin' palefaces. First-person protagonist Earl Turner starts out having his apartment searched and ends up dropping a bomb on the Pentagon. The plot is laughably contrived in the manner of a schoolboy playing with plastic soldiers. Turner escapes death with the ridiculous improbability of an action-movie hero until he's blown to Aryan smithereens in his kamikaze mission. What begins as a loose-knit paramilitary posse grows into an earth-governing, snow-white, quasi-Druidic inner sanctum known as The Order. Hitler is referred to as "the Great One," and genocide of nonwhites is called "sterilization." The entire planet eventually becomes white, although certain sectors of Asia remain too radioactive for habitation. Characters are rendered flatter than paper targets. Nevertheless, The Turner Diaries would seem to invigorate any reader who pines for a White Jerusalem.

Here at the gun show, there's no dearth of pro-white white folk. The only black person in sight, a muscle-laden male in a US Marines shirt, trudges about uncomfortably, and it's hard to blame him: Uncle Adolf is everywhere. There's an affinity for Hitler bordering on kink, with more German militaria being sold than American stuff. A pair of wrestler-sized bikers conspicuously clomp around, one garbed in a DAVID DUKE FOR PRESIDENT T-shirt, the other wearing a turquoise ring with a swastika inset. Glowering at merchandise, a skinhead wears a shirt with the slogan HAIL VICTORY! above a Nazi flag. Sporting a disciplined little mustache, one vendor deals strictly Teutonic wares, including the infamous JUDE patch which Jews were forced to don under the Third Reich.

And then there's Dieter, a Prussian-product-pusher par excellence. Besides the standard swastika flags and armbands, he sells swastika patio lamps, Triumph of the Will and Africa Corps videos, and SS jackets in "full Gestapo leather" for twenty-five hundred smackers. Dieter came to the US from Germany as a teenager in 1958. He has an amiable glint in his eye and a belly undoubtedly cultivated from one too many Oktoberfests. I ask him if he catches any static for selling Nazi souvenirs, and it takes him about three seconds to start making racial slurs

"No. I just tell them to get away. They're mostly Jews. I thought people were so open-minded. Only when it comes to their stuff, like communism."

His blonde wife demonstrates a black-velvet choker with a rhinestone swastika sewn into the front. Three hundred and fifty bucks. "Dat wos for da super-rrrrich," she boasts, "and dey hod the clothes to go vit it!"

Dieter claims he'd be jailed back in Germany for hawking Hitleria. He says he has no urge to return to the Vaterland. "They're having a lot of problems. About forty percent unemployment No wonder the young people get mad-they don't have a chance to get a job. They're bringing in all the Schwarzes and all the Gypsies and all the Asiatics-same as over here, you know? It's something that's internationally desired by certain people, you know, to mix everybody up....[The immigrants into Germany] get paid fifteen hundred a month, and they don't have to work for two years. All the young German kids are mad-they don't have a chance, because the welfare system is so over-bloated. It's turning into America over there. They come in from Africa with eighteen kids."

Trebly German marching songs tootle from a pee-wee boombox. "This country is going down the tubes," Dieter dictates, "especially in California. There's no borders here. They're letting in the Mexicans, the Central Americans-a white couple like you won't have a chance....Between the blacks and the Mexicans, they're going to burn everything from San Francisco down to San Diego. If you can't see the handwriting on the wall, you must be on drugs."

Certain that it will rile him enough to spit out another venom-filled quote, I ask Dieter if he's ever visited the Big Apple. "You want to break my nerves," comes his retort, "put me in New York City for ten minutes. I mean, JEW York City. You can look at somebody there, and they'll have four races in them-black, white, Jewish, Oriental-you don't know what they are. HELL is better than New York City. And they want us to mix. They want the Germans, the Scandinavians, to mix with those people. In another generation, the whole country will be like New York City. There will be bloody, bloody riots and counter-riots. You won't even need an earthquake to set it off. It could be a change in the weather, whatever....The best things you can get right now are beans and bullets."

 

THE END

 

Anyone who doesn't know that America is in 'big trouble' has a marshmallow for a brain . You have grown fat and soft and will not face reality. The riots and conflagrations will be massive, and will spread throughout the US-and when that happens, there will be a breakdown of all order-with worldwide disruption of trade, transportation, economics, industrial production, and food distribution. Hunger, riots, and revolution will follow, as prophecy has clearly foretold.

-From the American Pistol and Rifle Association newsletter

 

It's a minute before midnight. The boat is swiftly sinking. A crisis is coming. The big one's going to go down. The shit's going to drop like an H-bomb any day now. The balloon's ready to go up. The world as the gunfolk see it is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very dangerous place.

Although a full-scale nuke-athon isn't as likely as it was ten years ago, there are ever-present threats demanding ulcerous vigilance. Crack-addled street hoods, trigger-happy Muslim extremists, Southeast Asian narco-Stalinists, and lunatic dictators all crouch on the other side of town, waiting to strike. Laser weapons and neutron bombs are as easy to procure as a bag of Chee-tos. You never know when an angry foreigner's going to fire a ballistic missile into your living room. Since the Cold War ended, ethnic skirmishes have flared up like acne on a teenaged chin. Society is a fat pimple ready to pop.

If external threats don't hobble us, the economic time bomb is sure to implode. The public debt is a big blue whale, and we're all a helpless mouthful of plankton. Less than three cents' worth of gold back each dollar. The Third World will never make good on their loan obligations. The day is nigh when we won't even be able to keep pace with our interest payments.

KABLOOM! Bankrupt planet. Global depression. A new Dark Age. Dystopian nightfall. Perpetual conflict. Famine. Decimating outbreaks of disease. A reversion to skull-smashing troglodytes and blood-guzzling tribal warlords. And what will you need when Armageddon beckons? GUNS, you moron!

Should the nightmare scenario arise where the gunfolk's guns are lost, stolen, or inoperable, they must learn how to build new firearms from common items. Renegade publishers such as Loompanics, Delta, and Paladin sell books which teach the gunfolk how to construct crude zipguns from household odds and ends, shotguns from plumbing pipe, and "a homemade machine gun which can be built for less than twenty dollars!" Other instructional manuals render bootleg ammo as easy to make as outhouse moonshine.

More exotic primers demonstrate how to conceal your gun inside a microphone, a doorknob, bicycle pumps, belt buckles, helmets, or a shoe heel. You can even rig your car's steering column to shoot at would-be thieves. For a few pieces of silver, the eager reader can tutor himself in sabotage and night surveillance, shadowing and tailing, wiretaps and cryptography, lock-picking, interrogation, steel-cutting, window-jimmying, mail-tampering, natural and synthetic poisons, computer-hocking, radar-jamming, and anything else which might fall under the penumbra of manufactured mayhem. Sitting in front of a fireplace with his feet propped on a fluffy footrest, the armchair terrorist can learn how to derail trains and knock out on entire city's power supply.

But what if the unthinkable happens? I speak, no doubt, of the gunfolk's ultimate horror: What if the enemy has a bigger gun than you? One word-BOMBS. As might be expected, this world suffers no shortage of handy, do-it-yourself munitions literature. Using titles such as Silent Death, Deadly Brew, and The Big Bang, earnest gunfolk (and malicious pyromaniacs) can hoard weapons of mass destruction snugly within their trailer homes or studio apartments. C-4, a nasty explosive favored by terrorist groups worldwide, turns out to be as simple to throw together as a tossed salad. Nerve gas, missile grenades, fuel-air explosives-even atomic bombs-can be whipped up while you watch Americas Funniest Home Videos. And you don't need uranium to produce high-powered charges: Fertilizer, mothballs, sawdust, candle wax, and coffee can all turn an attacker into cartilage confetti. If you prefer not to face the enemy head-on, it's easy to booby-trap his alarm clock, telephone, shower head, talking teddy bear, or toilet-paper dispenser. As he reaches to wipe his ass, you can wipe him off the planet.

 

THE ANTIS

Our ultimate goal-total control of handguns in the United States-is going to take time.

-Handgun Control Inc.

 

Ugh! Yuck! Gross! What sort of person besides a poorly weaned psychotic would sit at home devising ways to gore other humans? The antis are nauseated by all the carnage-glorification, the clinical descriptions of shredded cadavers. They stratify gunfolk somewhere beneath Java man, the brackish ebb and flow of a polluted gene pool. They say the gunfolk's polemical paranoia proves what sick bastards they are. In an enlightened world, say the antis, guns would be as useless as torture racks and studded truncheons.

The antis decry a powerful gun lobby, a dark monolith financed by a pro-death firearms industry. America, say the antis, is in the throes of a gun crisis. There are almost as many guns in the US as there are people. Firearms kill or wound someone every 2.5 minutes, and many of the victims are eentsy-weentsy children taken out by stray bullets. Handguns alone kill ten little American whippersnappers daily. A federal firearms license is easier to get than a driver's license, giving the US more gun dealers than gas stations.

Guns, the antis assert, turn abusive husbands into killers, curious children into lead-plugged corpses. A study conducted in Cleveland from 1967 to 1973 concluded that a gun kept at home is six times more likely to hurt someone in an accident than to be used against a criminal. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that for every trespassing criminal who eats lead, forty-three others croak from errant gunplay in the home.

That's a bunch o' poopy, say the gunfolk. Those stats seem lopsided because they include suicides and cases where guns were rightfully used against assaultive family members. If you want to quote stats, tell the people that a car is twelve times more likely to kill someone than a gun. More juveniles lose their lives in bicycle mishaps than in firearms accidents. The odds are greater that you'll choke to death on food than on a stray bullet. What are you gonna do-outlaw Chevys, ten-speeds, and canned ravioli?

The truth, which the antis run away from like cockroaches from a light bulb, is that only two percent of accidental deaths involve guns. Among firearms owners, less than one in three thousand will ever murder someone. The belief that gun homicides are escalating is likewise a big brown pile of liberal doo-doo: The FBI Uniform Crime Reports state that the 1990 gun-murder rate was down more than five percent from a decade earlier.

Ask a criminal what he fears more than the police or jail, and he'll say a long, dark shotgun barrel pointed between his eyes by a pajama-clad homeowner. With four million American homes burglarized yearly, it's impossible for cops to protect everyone. In fact, gunfolk acting within the law kill more criminals every year than all police agencies combined. But the antis prefer that we defend ourselves with good politics. Their biggest argument against firearms is that they're designed for only one thing-killing people. Exactly. So what's your point? To be frank, most of the antis don't live in areas where they'd ever need a gun. Candy-assed hypocrites. Embarrassed amid their European cohorts at wine-sipping parties, they make slobbering apologies for America's high gun-ownership rates. Fuck, that's the best thing about America!

Still, the antis insist that the deterrent effect of guns kept at home is illusory and outweighed by the danger. Well, chew on some Swiss cheese, you little rats. Switzerland requires all adult males to stock their houses with full-auto rifles. The Swiss murder rate is about fifteen percent of that in the US. They're just blowing holes through the Matterhorn, aren't they? A better example, and one which hits closer to home, is what happened in Kennesaw, Georgia. In 1982, the city made it mandatory for homeowners to have firearms. During the first year after the law was passed, Kennesaw's residential-burglary rate dropped sixty percent. It dipped another fifty-eight points the next year. Kennesaw's murder rate? There IS no murder rate in Kennesaw. To see what effect anti-gun laws have on the murder rate, you'd have to visit L.A., New York, or D.C., cities which have some of the toughest gun-control statutes on record. Why, they're virtual Gardens of Eden, right?

So maybe the problem lies not with honest, God-fearing, shoe-shining gunfolk, but with your criminals and isolated cuckoo birds. I'm sure that criminals give a fuck whether or not guns are legal. I can just see them lining up to surrender their firearms. Gun control only makes their job easier. While the antis would point to George Jo Hennard's bloodbath at Luby's Cafeteria as an airtight case for gun control, gunfolk counter that it's a good argument for private citizens to carry concealed weapons. Hennard was a maniac; most of Luby's customers weren't. If ordinary people were allowed to go about fully strapped, Hennard wouldn't have been able to smoke twenty-three humans. Somebody's grandma would have whipped out a .357, sent Hennard's cranium flying in a thousand directions, and returned to her tapioca pudding.

 

THE LAW

 

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

-Second Amendment to the US Constitution

 

"Wait a cotton-pickin' minute," bawl the antis with their veiny, gnarled Adam's apples bobbing up and down pistonlike, "the Founding Fathers couldn't have conceived of 9mm automatics and MAC-10s that belch out thirty caps with one tug of the trigger." Well, they didn't know about photocopiers, fax machines, and personal computers when they wrote the First Amendment, but I don't hear you squawking about limiting free speech, ya pricks.

So what did our nation's architects mean with their crappy syntax and bad punctuation? The antis claim that the Second Amendment pertains strictly to the militia, i.e., the Army, and was never intended to grant janitors the right to stockpile machine guns. But there's that pesky phrase, "the right of the people." How could a government infringe on its own Army's rights? The antis won't tell you that the first US Senate tried to abridge the Second Amendment to embrace only "the common defense." The measure was shot down like a clay pigeon. The antis rarely cite the Militia Act of 1792, which required every free white male between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to own a gun and join the militia. It was codified a measly five months after the Second Amendment was enacted. If you don't believe me, here's what the mack daddies of the thirteen colonies had to say about private gun ownership:

 

The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed. (Alexander Hamilton)

 

Anyone who surrenders his arms because of a cry for public safety does not deserve freedom. The strongest reason for the people to retain the rights keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government....No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. (Thomas Jefferson)

 

Americans have the right and advantage of being armed-unlike the citizens of other countries, whose governments are afraid to trust people with arms....A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, is the best and most natural defense of a free country. (James Madison)

 

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. To ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference-they deserve a place of honor with all that's good. (George Washington)

 

The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun. (Patrick Henry)

 

Is that evidence enough? OK, now shut your mouth and KEEP it shut until I ask for your opinion.

 

THE HUNT

Did you ever see what a .44 Magnum pistol will do to a woman's face? I mean, it'll fuckin' destroy it. Just blow it right apart. That's what it can do to her face. Now, did you ever see what it can do to a woman's pussy? That you should see.

-Taxi Driver

 

Maybe I learned to respect guns the night when, as a lonely, dope-seeking Philadelphia teenager, I scored a handful of joints downtown. Several blocks from where I copped, as I dizzily drifted through a grimy sector near the Greyhound station, some dude accosted me with the words, "I know you got the weed." I offered to smoke some with him, so we headed down an alley to fire it up. When I cupped my hands to light a joint, he stuck a chrome-plated revolver in my guts and demanded my money, all seven bucks of it. I looked down at the gun as it twinkled in the early summer twilight. He took my cash and bolted, and I walked ten miles home.

As a wise man once said, "Never again." Cross me-just once-and you become a target. I don't care if it's a riot, an earthquake, or just some jerkoff with an attitude-nobody's going to clown me again.

Storm clouds fill up the sky. The nightly sound of shotgun blasts is as familiar as my alarm clock's numb buzz. Meat wagons roll through the streets. Police-chopper lights peer into my window. Fat, red-eyed schizophrenics are barking outside, saying they're going to kill me. I'm in too fucking deep. I want that cold steel in my hands. I've made up my mind. I'm gonna buy a gun.

I can't afford to make a mistake, so I study their anatomy like a medical student. I mull over their calibers, barrel lengths, scopes, clips, stocks, sights, triggers, springs, safety levers, ejectors, and grips. I balance power against accuracy, close-combat utility versus sniping potential. I learn about the glamor guns, those whose names read like digital poetry: the TEC-9, 30.06, .357 Magnum, and M-16. I acquaint myself with bullets: flatnosed bullets, fragmenting bullets, and armor-piercing "cop-killer" bullets. A bullet must quickly flatten the enemy. It must induce hydrostatic shock and maximize tissue damage. A bullet should expand properly in order to create a giant wound channel. Optimum blood loss is the goal.

Yessiree, bullets can be mighty fetching. But because of its size, the shotgun shell is able to contain more bewitching ammo than standard rifle or pistol casings. Shotgun shells can hold rounds such as the coquettish "Turbo-Grabber," whose hollowpoint slug is rimmed with tiny teeth, transforming the discharge into a flying buzz saw. "Flechette" cartridges are loaded with twenty steel darts. The "Flamethrower," according to one catalog's enthusiastic description, "expels a load of exotic, fast-burning, high-temperature metals three-hundred-plus feet downrange, totally engulfing your target in a momentary four-thousand-degree fireball!" My sentiments lean toward the "Strung Buck," a shell which houses two huge lead balls joined by six-inch wire strands. Upon impact, the Strung Buck tears right through a victim, flaying his chest into beef jerky.

But enough research. "A GREAT WAY TO RELIEVE STRESS!" trumpets the Yellow Pages ad for a downtown pistol range, and I'm a big ball of twine all knotted in tension. Debbie's nervy, too, so we hop in our jalopy and head for Skid Row. As we walk into the range, we're faced with about nine hundred Koreans and a like number of firearms. I rent the Glock 19, possibly the sexiest handgun ever made, with a design as winning as a '65 Mustang. It's lightweight and partially cast in space-age plastic, rendering it a dull, rubbery black. My paper target depicts a rodent-cheeked, suit-wearing assailant who resembles a Man From U.N.C.L.E. villain. Clad in protective earmuffs and goggles, I squeeze out the first cap. I'm startled at how fucking LOUD it is, like a mallet socking me in the ribs. No electric guitar ever spoke the heavy-metal thunder that this little gun does. One shot quickly follows the next until there are none. As I collect my used brass, pay the bill, and walk outside, it dawns on me that I'm HAPPY, maybe happier than I've been in years. I feel cleansed, like I've been crying for hours. I've taken an elevator ride up to the lair of the gods. I have become Shiva, destroyer of worlds.

Clutching the power over life and death in your hand is more addictive than any skin-popped opiate. I'm jonesing to shoot again, and soon. We devise a perfect double date with another couple-dinner, then gunplay. I swallow my meal as quickly as possible and corral everyone into the car so we can zoom to the range. My hand is sore after having been crushed under a hydraulic paper trimmer, so l choose the .22 Luger, which looks like a German spy gun and has minimal recoil. I expend a hundred rounds in the blink of an eye. As the four of us leave, the sound of parking-lot gravel crunching under our feet, we all feel washed in the River Jordan. Driving away on a foam-rubber cloud, I fantasize about how it would feel to pump lead into more "human" targets-say, honeydew melons or balloons filled with Jell-O. I wonder what it would be like to get my claws on a shotgun, to bang up my shoulder until it's block-and-blue. Shit, how about an anti-aircraft gun? A cannon? Sniffing my fingers, I realize that the smell of gunpowder would make a fantastic cologne. My cock's gonna be brick-hard tonight.

My only grievance was with the target-too impersonal, like a crash-test dummy. So I use a stat camera to blow up some photos of our surviving parents-Debbie's hemorrhoidal father and my bloodsucking mom-to poster size. Now we're really horny to go shooting.

As I clip Debbie's lumpy, knish-shaped dad to the target holder and send him sailing downrange, a hundred feathers tickle my loins. I feel hopeful. Since Debbie had been somewhat gun-shy up to this point, I start her an a piddling old Smith & Wesson .22, which jams more open than it fires. When she has no trouble with the .22, I hand her the more powerful Glock 17, which holds nineteen 9mm bullets. I begin shouting some of her dad's more irksome lines into her ear: "You're ugly!I wish you had died instead of your mother!You'll never get married, because nobody wants you!" Lurching forward, her legs spread and teeth gnashing, Debbie empties the clip. She's not a gun virgin anymore.

"Who's that person?" asks a man peeping out from the stall to our left, pointing to the now-battered target of Debbie's pop. Our interrogator looks like a Yale grad-neatly cropped blond hair, granny glasses, grey sweat shirt.

"That's my father," Debbie proudly replies.

I lift up the target of my smiling mere. "And this is my mother," I soy, beaming.

"Do they know about this?" Mr. Prep School asks uneasily.

"I don't know," I answer. "We haven't spoken to them for years." His skinny lips crinkle into a gawky smile as he burrows back into his stall's sanctuary.

KER-PLOW! The blood pressure seeps out of us with each pull of the trigger, each deadly volley hurled at our progenitors. How dare they steal our formative years away from us? Well, we've got them cornered, and they can't get away now. They invested a lot of hatred in us, and now it's payback time.

"It was such a physical release," Debbie confides to me as we head out "It was wonderful." It seems like it took us four hours to get to the gun range and about six minutes to return home. We taped the sounds of gunfire. We'll listen to the tape on insomniac nights, certain it will lull us to sleep.

We rent a semiautomatic AK-47 on our next shooting jaunt, and the Soviet-designed rifle has a rib-rattling pow-pow report with a healthy bluish flame streaming from the muzzle. Wearing a black-velvet overcoat, Debbie grips the AK like a gun moll, blowing holes in her father's face. A warm feeling rolls over my scrotum.

We'll hit the some range one more time, accompanied by three other people, all of us trying each other's guns in the true communal spirit, all of us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But somehow the rent-a-gun racket leaves me feeling empty. I realize that the string of one-night stands with unfamiliar firearms can't go on forever. I don't want to be known as an aging gun slut. I must choose one gun and make a commitment to it.

 

THE GUN

 

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best fiend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without me, it is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy, who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will....My rifle and myself know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit.... My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories. its sights, and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will.Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy but Peace!

-The Creed of the United States Marines

 

Do you believe in love at first sight? It only happened once before, the night I first dove into Debbie's big brown eyes. And here comes that sticky feeling again, surging through my limbs, making my knees weak. It just looks so seductive, mounted there on the wall behind the counter, silently imploring me to take it home. Resplendent black steel, shiny black plastic. Hey, good-lookin'....

It's the devastating Mossberg 500 twelve-gauge shotgun, and I'm in love. It's so baleful, diabolical, and pitiless, I think I 'd follow it around the world if it asked me. This sweetheart's equipped with a custom sight, front and rear pistol grips, and side clips which hold six shells in addition to the seven which fit in the mag. The Mossberg's tooled for destruction. Its infernal belch will knock down anything in its path. Police agencies call it the "riot pump" and use it to disperse crowds. It's possibly the most brutal close-combat weapon you can buy legally.

So of course we buy it, registering it in Debbie's name due to my assault records. Forced by California law to wait fifteen days before we can take it home, I shoot some tender Polaroids of our new baby and bid it adieu. Lovesick, we try to pick a name for it as we stare at the pictures. We consider The Peacemaker, The Pacifier, Mommy Dearest, The Therapist, and Mr. Nice Guy, rejecting them all. We decide to call it The Reverend.

And so it came to pass, after fifteen days and fifteen nights of rain, that The Reverend spewed forth hellfire, an unholy issuance which splitteth the sky. Its heathen lightning cutteth straight through the raindrops, drilleth a tunnel through the fog, hammereth some indeterminate downrange mud. There are four of us weathering the antediluvian downpour, and our unprotected ears endure The Reverend's full bloody roar.

The rain taps like a machine gun on the skimpy canopy slung over our heads. This is the only legal shotgun range in Los Angeles, perched on soggily bucolic foothills in the county's northern fringes. It has gunfolkish touches such as a sign which reads, DANGER RATTLESNAKE AREA and a gun instructor whose name-I shit you not-is Kent Turnipseed. The range is a mucky beige pond after two straight weeks of rain, but a biblical-looking man in a 4x4 truck-presumably Mr. Turnipseed-allows us to shoot when we tell him it's a new gun. I guess he remembers being young.

With little success, we hurl clumps of lead at the steel pigs and ducks which taunt us fifty yards away. We're soon joined by three good-ol'-boy types, men whose appearance conjures dioramas of coal stoves and corncob pipes. They coo over The Reverend as if it's Rosemary's Baby. Within a minute, they're laying down raps about the evil metropolis New York and "niggers"-how not all black people are niggers, how some white people are. Their apparent leader is a short, beflanneled gent. With a lit, unfiltered cigarette jutting defiantly from his yap like an erection, he has the unaffected psycho aura of a lifetime military man. He tosses an empty plastic ammo tray into the water and starts dinging it with a .40-caliber Glock pistol. His aim is dead-on, and the red tray bobs up and down with each hit. He says he's taught target-shooting for thirty-seven years and has won seventeen national championships. Meanwhile, my shots zoom up and away like a jet plane, touching nothing. With gunfolkly compassion, he offers me a quick lesson. He holds The Reverend like he invented it and shows how I should plant my elbow in my waist while aiming with my index finger. After a few rounds, I'm sinking the ammo tray with ease. He tells me I'm shooting better than people he's been teaching for five years.

I smile. "They don't have my anger, boss."

 

THE KILL

 

The will to kill, the complete lack of sympathy and compassion, and no hesitation in killing the subject, is paramount You must take his life as detachedly as you might swat a fly or crush an ant. [One] method [of] silencing the repeat is to jam the muzzle up his rectal orifice and fire the weapon. Apart from being virtually silent, the cause of death is not immediately apparent.

-Kill Without Joy: The Complete How to Kill Book

 

Joey grew up in my neighborhood. Joey owned a shotgun. While demonstrating it to a friend, Joey shot himself in the face. He survived, forced to live out a degrading Elephant Man existence. He rarely ventured outside. He wore sunglasses when he did, and people whispered to each other wherever Joey went.

 

Piss me off, and Joey will look like Fabio compared to you. I'll peel your face open like a banana. I'll pepper your torso with fistfuls of cruel little pellets. You can run if you want, but I'm looking into your crystal ball, and GUNS, GUNS, GUNS are in your future.

Tortured puppies become nasty dogs. You cocksuckers thought it was all a joke, right? Heh, heh-POW! When some scumbag comes creeping into my apartment looking to lift my shit for some crack money, I'll blast his ass out into the hallway. Fuck, if someone honks too loud outside, I'll turn his brains into tofu. Some asshole knocks on our door trying to sell the L.A. Times, BLAM! Front-page news.

Lousy service at a restaurant? BOOM! Human marinara. I'll mow 'em down like ragweed, spray 'em like roaches, dust 'em like a bookcase. I can't wait to see the life seep out of someone's body like air from a tire. I laugh at my enemies' bulging eyes as I slip the shotgun barrel into their mouths. I relish the crimson parade of my foes being carted away in body bags. I cuddle used shotgun shells like they're newborn kittens. I'll shower with my gun. I'll go to the video store fully armed. I'll cruise supermarket aisles with The Reverend in one hand, a box of Cheerios in the other. I scatter lead like stars into the glittering L.A. night. Slowly...insanely...I become one of the gunfolk.

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