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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

As mystery and thriller writers, we here at TKZ are required to have at least a passing familiarity with firearms. Ian Fleming might have copped to being "rather bored by the whole question of expertise in these (technical) matters", but the rest of us must beware the fact checkers. No one wants to fail the sniff test when it comes to writing about the smell of cordite in the air. (See the excellent post by TKZ'er Emeritus John Ramsey Miller for the lowdown on accuracy).

When it comes to our attitudes toward guns in real life, however, I would guess that writers' opinions vary wildly. My own relationship with guns is complicated. I was raised as a regional hybrid; I spent half my youth in the Deep South, where guns are considered a rite of passage. The other half I spent hanging around Harvard types in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that bastion of anti-gun sentiment.

The South won the first battle. I was shooting skeet by the time I was 14, and target practice was a regular hobby. As a freshman at Wellesley College, I thought it was wildly amusing when I posted one of my shot-up targets on the door of my dorm room (doing that today would undoubtedly get me sent straight to Mental Health).

After college, my interest in guns waned. I didn't want to own them around children. Plus, I'd witnessed first-hand how firearms and flinty Irish tempers can prove a volatile mix, especially when combined with alcohol. (One male relative in my extended clan was shot--twice, on separate occasions--by his then-girlfriend. The couple later wed. I'm still scratching my head over that one.)

Recently my feelings about guns have been put to the test. I'm about to inherit a small arsenal of weapons from a gun-toting relative. I have mixed feelings about this impending bounty; on the one hand, the children are out of the house, and there's been a recent uptick in violent crime in my area. A gun might be useful, especially if I could somehow wrangle a concealed carry permit. On the other hand: owning a gun is still an awesome responsibility. I never can quite relax when there are guns in the house.

For now, I'm simply trying to get familiar with the darned things again. One of my bequests-to-be is a Walther PPK, the gun of choice for James Bond.  With apologies to Ian Fleming, it doesn't seem all that easy to use. When a bad guy's coming at you, who has time to draw and then push back a balky slide before aiming?  Maybe the one I'm getting needs oiling. Or maybe I need training.

For now, I'm just having fun getting acquainted with all these firearms. We took a few pictures--I think the fur adds a certain Jane Bondish je ne sais quois, don't you?


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