Guns, Guns and More Guns

We Americans sure love our guns. Big ones, small ones, single shot or semi-automatic, antiques or shiny new ones. This year’s Black Friday gun sales set an all-time record (The FBI said it received 154,873 calls for background checks for new gun purchases on Nov. 23, a marked increase over the agency’s previous record number of calls: 129,166 last year. The bureau was so overwhelmed with calls that outages occurred at some centers). Americans’ infatuation with guns takes a back seat only to that which they have for cars; and as you would expect, the homicidal havoc wreaked by firearms is second only to the body count chalked up to automobile accidents.

With so many avid gun hoarders out there, the rest of us would have to amass a small arsenal to try to keep up with the Joneses. It seems U.S. gun owners so outnumber those who conscientiously object to personal weapon stockpiles that non-gun owners are about as few and far between as vegans at an NRA potluck.

But while keeping a pistol or shotgun in the home to dissuade intruders is innocuous enough, this excerpt from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, is a good example of the obsession some folks have with guns:

People in “cattle country” often entertain themselves by using the beleaguered prairie dogs as living targets, taking all the more sick pleasure in shooting an attentive mother as she pops up from her burrow to see if it’s safe for her youngsters to come out. Hunters glibly assign the term “double tap” for a shot that kills both the mother and her adoring baby. “Tap” is a particularly perverse moniker considering that the hollow point bullets they sometimes use cause their victims to literally explode on impact—a sight that must really get the shooter’s blood up. Ladies beware: there’s a demonstrated link between cruelty to animals and domestic abuse, assault and other crimes on a killer’s violence continuum [including, school-shootings and the mass murder of Christmas shoppers at the mall].

One thrill-killer describes his sport this way: “Prairie dog hunting is a blast, on both private and public lands. I like to start by clearing everything within 50 yards with an AR-15, then switch to my .223 Remington for anything out to about 150 and finally trade up to the bull barrel .22-250 for the longer shots.” The only thing stopping a sportsman with this much bloodlust is the melting point of his gun barrel…

Coincidentally (or not), an AR-15 was also the weapon of choice of Jacob Tyler Roberts, the 22 year old Portland mall gunman, and a .223 was the assault weapon used by the Connecticut school shooter, 20 year old Adam Lanza. The .223 was also the semi-automatic rifle used by the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Allen Mohammed and John Lee Malvo. While there’s truth to the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” the fact is, those who kill the most are the people who’re the most fixated on their guns, i.e: hunters. The Columbine mass-murderers, the serial killer known as Zodiak, and untold others practiced on killing animals before graduating to people. Chances are good that when we learn the backstory of the mall shooter and the Connecticut kid-killer, we’ll find that they were quite the little nimrods as well.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson