Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Porochista Khakpour on the Gun Mystique

By Levi Asher on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 07:40 pm

There's a big national conversation going on in the USA about gun control and gun violence. We must have been overdue for this conversation, because there seem to be a whole lot of angles to this issue.

A Slate article presents the personal angle of Sons and Other Flammable Objects novelist Parachista Khakpour. Her piece is called Why did Nancy Lanza Love Guns?, and in it the author answers the question by remembering a phase she once went through in which she became attracted to guns and began surrounding herself with them, constructing a new self-image that pleased her and others.

... a boyfriend took me to a shooting range for the first time—me in my long layered hair, glasses, and white lacy sweater, whining about what recoil might feel like while in aisles next to me men shot photocopied Osama bin Laden targets. I put on the goggles and earmuffs, took the .22 as if it were a snappy puppy that might bite, and I fired.

I fell in love with guns from the first shot.It’s hard to explain what it was that did it. The hard pop and cold ease in the aftermath—a sort of Zen-like calm that spreads through you after the high adrenaline burst of the shot. Or was it the fact that I was actually good at it, a fairly decent shot, and a dog-and-pony show for the shooting range that afternoon? Oh, look, a girl who can shoot. Or was it the power, the feeling that I was in control of something that could destroy more effectively than almost anything on the planet? That I, a historically scrawny, weak nerd who’d been the prey to all sorts of danger, could now be the danger.

How do the memories of her gun-moll phase inform the novelist's thoughts about gun control and gun violence today? Read the piece and find out.

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