Sunday, January 25, 2009

happiness is a warm gun (bang bang, shoot shoot)

I admit typing the title with some trepidation. It's fashionable to be scared of Internet-conveyed threats of violence these days.

Nonetheless, no need to fear your humble correspondent. (No, not even if you're one of my ex-boyfriends. Really.) Yes, none other than she headed out shooting in the greater D.C. suburbs this weekend. I'd been talked into it by a friend of a friend who's a Second Amendment enthusiast. Quite a few of them run in my circles. I do like exercising my constitutional rights and all, and since I'm pretty law-abiding, I don't get to trot out amendments four through six much. But two I can deal with.

Was it like what I expected? Yes and not at all. First, the crowd was different. I'd imagined more flannel-shirted, grizzled truck driver types in NASCAR hats. I did not expect as many well-bred D.C. surburbanite types in North Face fleeces and Uggs who apparently just wanted to try shooting as a lark. Second, it's easier to aim that I expected. My friend taught us on a Glock 19, 9 mm, equipped with a laser pointed that makes it much easier to aim at a target. I'd been told also that, because of my delicate size, I should expect to almost fall over because of the kick. Said kick was definitely weaker than expected.

Yet shooting is still oddly intoxicating. There's an enormous sense of power that came flooding through my veins the first time I actually fired off a bullet. I felt strangely punch drunk and started laughing uncontrollably, much to my friends' puzzlement. "She's a girl who's never fired a gun before; it's her God-given right," I heard one reprimand the others. I also felt relief coursing through me, too; I came by my risk aversion early, as a much loved only daughter whose mother was reluctant to let her chop vegetables with a kitchen knife before the age of 16. Yet I managed to fire a Glock and not accidentally kill myself or anyone else! I started wondering, afterwards, about the ways in which male pursuits -- holding a powerful, dangerous weapons and seeing it turn out okay -- prepare boys to take risks in their careers later. Perhaps there is something to the Second Amendment Sisters' vision of feminism after all.

I had a nice cold beer with Boy afterwards at O'Sullivan's in Arlington. I felt very masculine sipping one after an afternoon of target shooting. Memo to Novans: their cheeseburgers are underwhelming, despite the near-perfect Irish dive bar ambience.

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