Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Why Do People Love Guns?

I've been thinking a lot about guns. And talking to a lot of perfectly kind-hearted people who are really, really, really, really, really into guns.

There are two kinds of people: those who surf more or less blithely over the trials and tribulations of life, and those who aim to wrestle the fucking universe into submission and make things go their way. Both are perfectly normal approaches, but the latter, obviously, loses in the end. You don't need towering mountains of wisdom to see that the universe doesn't care what we want. At all. We have very little control over how things go (even within your very own compass; e.g. how goes that resolution to hit the gym 3x/week?).

The universe will generally give you what you truly need (Free air! Free water! Emergency rooms! $1 pizza slices!) if you can be flexible about your needs. But some people view their needs with fraught needfulness, and see no alternative but to fight, fight, fight until they get some gratification and some sensation of control over it all. It's all a delusion - a hilariously transparent game of whack-a-mole - and this only heightens their anxiety and needfulness. Welcome to planet Earth!

Why do some people armor themselves with muscle? Why do some people make a conspicuous display of their toughness, rather than simply being tough? Because it gives them a feeling of power. Blithe surfing - i.e. acceptance - seems passive. By contrast, they're out there making it happen. Resisting, not accepting. And if you make yourself an obstacle to them, they will stand their ground, defend their interests, and make you awfully sorry you picked on the wrong person. You know, just like a video game.

The truth is that every one of these anxious bad asses is - just like every one of us - a squishy and whimperingly vulnerable human skin bag. And they know it. And it drives them crazy, because deep down they know it's all a pose....which only feeds their sense of anxiety and vulnerability. By carrying a gun, they gain actual power. Their real world bad-assery comes into better alignment with their pose. Who's squishy now, motherfucker?

Why do people love guns so much? The question is seldom asked or answered, at least with any insight. They're fun to shoot, sure. But lots of things are fun without inspiring such emotion and paranoia. The key is understanding that guns are the only thing making bad-asses, universe-wrestlers, and defenders of self-interest, anything more than regular hapless human beings. 

It might sound like I'm savagely putting gun people (some of whom are friends of mine) down. I'm totally not. Life is scary, and it's precarious to be a powerless squishy human skin bag, and we all cope with this fundamental discomfort in different ways. In my case, a gun wouldn't help, because my dread is too subtle and complex to be abated by anything as simple as a killing gadget (also: I would definitely wind up shooting a bunch of people - litterers, for starters). But for those who view it all as more of a video game, it's very easy to understand the primal need for weaponry.

This is why we're not going to have any deep gun control. This is why half the country freaks out at the mere suggestion. It's not about "liking" guns; it's a deeper, more existential issue. Gun people are no crazier than anyone else. Humans always choose irrational and self-defeating ways to cope with the deep-seated realization that we're not actually controlling this thing.

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