Experiencing gun culture first hand at the shooting range
Firing a gun is much harder than it looks. It’s not like on TV, where women with slim, manicured hands grab guns in a vague kind of a way in order to shoot the bad guy, usually towards the end of the episode. The damn thing jumps in your hands; the spent bullet cases jump off your face; and if you are shooting within a building, the noise is truly awful.
The Glock is a semi-automatic pistol, popular with both America’s law enforcement forces (eg the New York Police Department) and with psychiatrically disturbed murderers (eg Jared Loughnane in Colorado in January 2011; Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 ). Or the Glock 19 Generation 4, which is a 9mm with a slide (which looks like the back of the barrel) that shoots back with every shot. “You could break your thumb,” said the man at the shooting range. As if it wasn’t frightening enough already.
Then there was the Colt SMG 9mm submachine gun (“highly concealable” and “for close confrontations”, it says on the Colt website.) It was light and very easy to use, if you stood like those action heroes you’ve been watching all your life. It is amazing how fast your fantasies kick in once you have a gun in your hands.
On the Glock, I tried to cup the gun like Angie Dickinson in Police Woman – ah, Angie was so cute. But on the Colt SMG, I tried to stand like Richard Harris in some film I can’t remember the name of, only that he was wearing a beret. “Your stance there is real good,” said the man in the shooting range.
You can change the Colt from semi-automatic to fully automatic. “This is the fun switch,” said the man at the shooting range. He’ll stand behind anyone firing a machine gun to make sure you aren’t driven too far back by the force of it. It fairly rattles your bones. Your adrenalin surges. It is a thrill. We are in Texas.
Lyle Lovett has a song That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) which expresses both how sorry Texans are for anyone who is not from Texas, and also a welcome to them. The visitor to Texas the beautiful, the hospitable, the profoundly strange, is pulled between wonder and dismay.
Of course the Texans play up to this a great deal – they are as bad as the Irish for shamelessly showing off to outsiders about their country and enjoy shocking you with both its virtues and its faults.
So to the shooting range on Saint Stephen’s Day. It is quite cold in Houston – Lyle Lovett is from just up the road here in southeast Texas; George Bush snr is in a local hospital – and the shooting range is called Top Gun.