Guns hardly enter my life. I can watch one movie or TV show and see more guns there than I’ll see in person in my life. There was no prejudice against guns in my family. One of my favorite possessions at ages six through eight was a pair of matched cap-shooting six-guns with a double holster, with which I kept the dirt pile behind the garage safe from bad guys, including the yappy dog in the next yard back who had taken a bite of me when I dropped out of a tree within range of his leash.

    On one of our visits to Uncle Leo’s place, the Simpson family farm of five generations ago, we took his six-shooter out in the pasture and shot cans. I could barely lift the thing, and its kick was stronger than my skinny body’s adherence to the ground. I killed no cans.

    When my folks moved to the mountains after marrying off their youngest kid (me), my dad bought a gun, a six-gun of course, since the neighbors said a gun was needed in raising fowl. I tried out that gun during a visit and, again, could barely lift the thing properly, even less point it accurately at a can fifty yards away. In the middle of the night before my dad had quintuple bypass surgery, my wife and I, who were there to house-sit while the folks were down in the city, were awakened by close-by gunfire. The next morning my father reported that a skunk had been getting into the cat food just outside the back door and that in his limited condition he was such a bad shot that he had actually hit the skunk instead of just scaring it off. Fair warning. The skunk crawled under one of the sheds to die.

    A couple years later a student in a Greek class I was teaching, a woman in her sixties, stopped me in the seminary hallway, accompanied by her daughter-in-law, and handed me a lunch bag with a gun in it, would you believe a six-shooter, and said “John, you have to take this.” I didn’t take it, but I did come away with a hurried account of some trouble her son was in that might make the gun’s presence embarrassing.

    That’s pretty much it. I’ve walked past displays of guns in stores. Some lifelong residents of the place I live can’t quite believe that very few people living in some other states, even people living in the country, hunt. Sort of like some people living in some other countries think all Americans carry guns all the time.

    Anyway, the point is, if I have one, that movies and TV don’t represent life as most of us live it. It might represent life as my student’s son lived it, but I doubt even that.

    Not many of us are gunnies for organized crime. I’ve talked with a couple men who had been, and they both told me that there’s a lot of pointing of guns but very little shooting. One, in fact, said that in a few years of that employment he never fired the thing.

    Not many of us are cops, and I hope that those of us who are seldom involve themselves in shootouts across crowded malls or between fast-moving vehicles on busy streets. But that, along with if you know where to slug somebody they’ll crumple unconscious to the floor  and other myths,  happens in movies.

    Not many of us are directly involved in fighting terrorists, and most of those who are have desk jobs.

    And how many of the many gun-shootin’s you’ve seen on one screen or the other have involved any noticeable recoil?

    So, while I have gained far more knowledge about guns from movies and TV than from direct contact, I suspect it of being faulty.

    Most people, I suppose, share my skepticism. We know there is some fantasy involved. But I am worried that there is one part of the movie & TV presentation that is just as faulty but that most of us believe, at least sometimes. It is not anything as obviously wrong as that people generally engage in conversation before shooting or that having killed someone is a good prelude to a kiss. It is, rather, that paranoia is sensible, that the guy who thinks he sees an enemy agent around every corner is right, that if I don’t shoot first, somebody else will claim that privilege, that the world of action movies and shooter games is where we live.

Don’t say “conspiracy” whenever these people say “conspiracy.” Don’t fear what they fear or live in terror. Isaiah 8:12


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