An essay, at Thought Catalog:
No one can truly understand the land that inspired Dorothy Parker’s mordant one-liner “American as a sawed-off shotgun” unless he has held—ideally, fired—a gun, felt the perverse sensuality of the way it fits your grip, thrilled to the queasy buzz of knowing that a twitch of your finger can kill.
To be American is to feel that handgun ownership is your birthright; that you’re somehow incomplete, nagged by an itchy phantom limb, without a gun.
For boys—even boys like this author, whose liberal-ish parents fulminated against the soul-scarring effects of “violent toys”—growing up in ’60s America meant dreaming of guns. Cap guns, whose sweetly acrid smell is a grace note in memories of my boyhood summers. The impressively realistic toy Peacemaker in the Sears Roebuck catalog, with the tie that lashed its holster to your thigh for gunslinger cool and those little pellets that made smoke trail convincingly from the gun’s barrel when you fired it. The Johnny Seven One-Man Army, a super-gun whose sheer overkill—it rolled a grenade launcher, anti-tank rocket, anti-bunker missile, rifle, machine gun, and automatic pistol into one mega-weapon—launched a million power fantasies, making it the best-selling boys’ toy of 1964. Daisy BB rifles, like the one my friend came within a whisker of blinding his kid brother with one languid, directionless afternoon when his parents weren’t homeÂ (why weren’t the parents ever home, in ’60s Southern California?).
MORE, at Thought Catalog.