Here is a simple truth when it comes to me: I think guns are cool. I think guns are cool in the way that I think an electric toothbrush is cool. Or a V8 engine is cool. I think guns are cool in the way I think it’s cool that my daughter looks both like my wife and I or the way that aloe seems to heal everything. To paraphrase Walter White, sometimes it really is about the science, and there is no denying the technological marvel that is the firearm for what it is capable of, regardless of intent or result. That’s a huge, unfair “regardless” there, but we’ll circle back to that. And as cool as guns are in that modern invention kind of way, it’s only half the story.
The more nefarious side is that I enjoy what guns can do in the fictional abstract. It isn’t really honest to say that I think an AK-47 with a ridiculous high rate of fire is cool and not group that the sheer violence of its bullets ripping through something with furious tenacity. So yes, that means that it isn’t honest for me say that I enjoy Rick Grimes spraying automatic vengeance without the people of Terminus being the bullet sponges. Admitting you enjoy watching violent ballistic death on TV doesn’t make me a sociopath (I don’t think) because it is so wildly enjoyed by others, but it is a bit alarming to say it out loud like that. Even then, that’s watching gun violence, that’s not the act of doing it, so that adds another level between what we would start to consider problematic, right?
Well, what about video games? I game. Hard. I’ve logged well over 100 hours of “Destiny,” a first-person shooter from developer Bungie, famous for the “Halo” franchise (yes, the game just came out in September and no, I don’t feel the least bit bad about that number). As most FPS games, you play 85 percent of your time in the game aiming down the sights, killing everything unlucky enough to be in your path and have hit points for health. Like most shooters, “Destiny” rewards you for being precise. They’re called precision shots here in lieu of “headshots” mostly because there is an enemy variant where their most vulnerable spot is in their abdomen. Still, hitting these spots rewards you with extra damage and a bit of visual flare. Shoot a Cabal enemy in the head and watch it explode into gas and toxins as its body hits the ground limply, possibly rewarding you with another weapon or more ammo for your current one. It is satisfying and only feeds your hunger to keep doing it. But to be fair, these are aliens you’re shooting, a fictional genocide to take part in. It’s not like they are human or anything. Not like you can do that …
The first time I saw a real gun was probably when I was about 12 or 13. The first person I remember knowing who lost their life to a bullet was the summer before my 14th birthday, though I expect it may have happened before that, but I just didn’t know any better and nobody bothered to sully me with the truth. I’d love to say that was the last time I lost a friend to the barrel, but it wasn’t and it didn’t necessarily slow down as I grew up either, except the number of “eligible” friends for such violence began to narrow itself.
Read more from Will Evans at Black Nerd Problems