When I was a kid I had a Daisy Pop Gun, which is like a neutered BB Gun. It didn’t shoot anything except little bursts of air that you could feel if you put your hand right in front of the barrel.
I really wanted a BB Gun, like some of my friends had. But I never got one.
I remember that I could jam the barrel into semi-hard mud, creating a little plug at the end. And when I pulled the trigger, the plug would pop out, and fall on the ground in front of me. A sad, impotent, projectile consolation.
Earlier this year, I tried shooting someone’s real Daisy BB Gun. I was pathetic. I couldn’t hit a plastic soda bottle 15 feet in front of me. Or 10 feet in front of me.
It was not only lack of skill resulting from a childhood deprived of a real BB gun. I’m right handed, but my left eye is dominant. To really hit targets, I’m going to have to aim with my left eye.
What I’d need, I decided, is a pistol. And without realizing it, I’d decided I was going to get me one.
Months passed. Then a couple of weeks ago, I searched online for BB pistols. I read a couple of reviews, and decided what I would get (if I were to get one) would be a Smith & Wesson M&P CO2 Pistol.
It had that right combination of good reviews and a cheap price — about $36. I figured I’d probably get all of my plinking out of my system in one plink-filled weekend. Then I’ll get bored of it.
But something happened.
I started to have fantasies about protecting my family. I’d imagine scenarios where I hear a noise in the house, and I’d reach for my Smith & Wesson in my nightstand. With my weapon drawn, I’d confront the intruder (who of course is wearing the intruder uniform: black pants, a black long-sleeve shirt, and a black ski cap). I know it’s a bluff — that it’s just a BB gun — but does he?
I’d say in a cool voice, “You need to leave.” And maybe I’d follow with, “Don’t make me use this” — because it would really sting; might even raise a welt.
I still want my weekend of plinking. But watching these heroic movies play in my mind, I realized: This is how gun nuts are made.