I hate guns. I hate everything about them. I know we can't conceive of a world without guns, I know our laws guarantee a "right" to them. I understand that people can get some sort of feeling of empowerment from shooting guns, can enjoy a thrilling transmission of power. But even when they're used responsibly, when they're directed at nothing more sentient than a firing range target, I still hate them.
To me they're one of the most blatant symbols of our remove from the natural world. That our machine-making minds have found a way to maim and kill - without effort - without contact.
If all I have to fight you with is a knife or a sword or my hands, if I have to look you in the eye and wonder the outcome, aren't I going to be a lot more cautious and rational when considering battle? Just like a smart dog or lion or crow is going to make a judgement about whether a fight is worth it or not. But if I have a gun - or a mortar or a big bomb - and you don't, I know I'll win. Easy. That core of a concept, our internalization of it, I think has had a sickening, dislocating effect on us as humans.
Violence is natural. No matter how much we try to avoid it - usually a very healthy impulse - it's inherent in life and death. In small and large ways. But for violence to be understood, to be healthily processed by our puny human brains, I believe it has to present itself on a human scale. The velocity of violence has to present in human time.
When I was living in San Francisco in the eighties, one of the many less-than-glamorous jobs I scrounged around to get was cleaning house for some people who had a t-shirt business in Mill Valley, across the bridge in Marin County. The owner of the business always seemed more than a little paranoid. Really kind of spooky. He slept with a gun under his pillow. And he was usually good about putting it away before I got dropped off - I was always alone in the house - but one or two times I had to pick up the gun and put it on the bedside table so that I could make the bed. The only time I've held a gun.
It was so much heavier than I would have expected. Heavy steel, machine cold. Heavy. Sickening, unnatural. I found it very disturbing to even touch it. It wasn't so much a fear I felt. It just felt like an evil thing. There are other weapons that can have another purpose, another life beyond violent intent. A dagger or a sword can be beautifully decorated and ornamental. It can be worn or hung on the wall and admired for its craftsmanship. But I found no beauty in this heavy metal object. And it was made for no other purpose. For the few seconds it was in my hand, all I could feel from it, hear from it: This is meant to kill with. This is meant to kill with.