Stopping Power

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In Richard Linklater’s movie Waking Life, there is a scene involving two gun owners in a bar. One tells a lurid story about shooting a knife-wielding madman. He then puts his gun on the bar and says that it hasn’t been fired since the incident just described. “Why don’t you try it?” suggests the barkeep. So the customer shoots the bartender, who, with his last breath, takes his own gun from behind the counter and kills the customer. The vignette seems to encapsulate perfectly the anti-gun- nuts’ fantasy of gun owners as overgrown children with dangerous toys in their hands.

It flies in the face of the reality that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are far more adult than anti-gun advocates precisely because they have come to terms with the tangible power of the weapons in their control. It is the gun-control advocate who tends to be as careless of the power of the laws he would enact as he imagines the gun owner to be of his firepower.

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