Guns, Guns, Guns!
December 29th, 2015

Here’s the problem as I see it: Guns never wear out. I’m thinking of the 30-30 carbine I inherited from my father, who owned it for approximately thirty years. During that time, he didn’t run through an entire box of ammunition, because Dad never pulled the trigger unless he had a deer in his sights, and evidently he was a very good shot.

Since I inherited my father’s rifle I haven’t fired it even once. That’s because I don’t hunt deer; I live in the city and not way out in the wilds where such a weapon might be useful for fetching meat and fending off such things as marauding grizzly bears and wolves. So even though my carbine is old enough to collect Social Security, it’s hardly been used and is still good as new. So there is absolutely no point in my going out and buying myself another one—sorry, NRA.

What we need, if we’re serious about reducing the number of firearms in circulation, are guns that don’t last so long. I’m thinking of the disposable Bic Six-Shooter you so often see in the movies. The shooter fires half a dozen rounds, and then the pistol stops working. He looks at in disgust, then throws it in the direction of whatever he was shooting at. Said target, be it Roy Rogers or The Thing, is unharmed by the tossed pistol and keeps on advancing. End of story.

So how about we start selling single-use firearms preloaded with only as many bullets necessary to take down however many bad guys or monsters from outer space that an average citizen might encounter in a lifetime? As for you hunters, I would strongly suggest that you put away that rifle or shotgun and take up a camera. That’s what I did many years ago, and I find that when packing a camera—in particular one with a long lens—I feel feel just as virile and manly and dangerous as ever I felt when packing a gun. Moreover, it gives me a good excuse to wander the hills and valleys and ditch banks in search of game, same as when I used to go pheasant hunting with my father. What I loved about those outings, in addition to spending quality time with Dad, was tramping through the brush on a crisp autumn day. I loved the crackle of dry leaves underfoot, the sudden rush of adrenaline when the quarry was flushed, the challenge of aiming, the thrill of hitting what you aimed at.

Pheasants copy

All of these things you can do with a camera. And afterwards, you can bedazzle your friends by detailing the technical features of your beloved “weapon.” You say yours is an AR-15 that fires .223mm bullets at a rate of muzzle velocity of 1,291 foot-pounds? Well, my Nikon Df has a 16 megapixel sensor and can fire continuous bursts at 1/8000th of a second. My telephoto lens has a maximum focal length of 550 millimeters. It’s damn near as long as your automatic rifle and weighs twice as much. Look on my lens, ye mighty, and despair!

Last summer I found myself hiking the alkaline hills of Emery County, where my late father and I once hunted for pheasants. Suddenly I came upon a magnificent pronghorn antelope, who instead of turning tail ala Miley Cyrus, posed patiently against the skyline as I moved into position for a shot, and then another. Six shots in all, at which point the animal tired of posing and scampered off. The thrill I felt that day was unlike anything I ever got from firing a gun. And now my prize is framed and hanging on my wall, looking back at me in a way that no glass-eyed stuffed antelope head ever could. “Nice shot, Richard,” he seems to say, “and thank you so much for shooting me with a camera instead of a gun.”

-Richard Menzies