Tuesday, October 26, 2004


"The relationship between women and guns is one Sigmund Freud would love. I first observed this phenomenon one summer while tending bar at a resort in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. I was in college. Most of the staff were students at Bloomsburg University. I brought along a .22-caliber revolver with the idea of enjoying some occasional target shooting.

One Sunday I invited one of the waitresses to join me. She accepted, but with the caveat that she had never fired a gun. "Not to worry," I said convincingly, "I'll show you the basics." Into the woods we sauntered. I handed her the gun. She took hold of it gingerly, grips between thumb and forefinger. Suppressing a smile, I showed her again. This time she planted her feet, took a deep breath, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. The loud bang was followed by a loud yelp. She was laughing uproariously. The glint in her eye said that she was smitten. From then on, she was the invitor and I the invitee.

A similar phenomenon occurred with my wife a few years later. Political science major and devotee of giving peace a chance, she had ingested the liberal's visceral distaste for guns. That was to change one fall Saturday afternoon at her family cabin near State College. A few of us were blasting away at tin cans and cajoled her into joining the fun. At first she dismissed our entreaties, but before long curiosity prevailed and she stepped to the line. Someone jokingly reminded her to keep her eyes open. She had a better chance of hitting something that way. It didn't help. With eyes wide shut, she fired wide of the mark. But the recoil apparently triggered an adrenaline rush. Her face lit up and a sly smile creased her face. Another case of love at first shot. Freud would love it.....

I'll let the experts explore the Freudian undertones between women and guns, but this male has identified four distinct stages, similar to those found in relationships between men and women. The first stage - fear and revulsion - is followed closely by curiosity and fascination. Third up is infatuation, the unbridled obsession with the physical and emotional exhilaration of shooting, particularly the feeling of empowerment it ignites. What I call the mature stage, the last stage, is marked by the self-confidence, freedom, security and peace of mind common to those who boldly step out of a world of fear, bogeymen, and stereotypes ruled by self-appointed guardians to create their own destiny, form their own opinions and think for themselves. This, I think, is the key. Women who confront and conquer their fears are confident, adventuresome, independent and self-assured. Oh, and in one man's opinion, quite sexy.

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