A weekend in Las Vegas! The lights, the casinos, the shows, the glitz, the noise, the - guns?
"This here's the easiest to start with. It's got less kick so it's easier to control."
Into my hand he plops a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver. It's only the second time in my life I've actually touched a gun (the first being during a Boy Scout trip). My hand droops under the surprising weight of the pistol. He chuckles. What am I doing here?
It's Saturday afternoon, and having lost too much money all too quickly at the poker tables, my buddy and I are seeking refuge from the dry Nevada heat at a gun club a few miles off the Strip. We can't remember whose idea it was, but neither of us thought we'd actually go through with it.
"That's a great little gun there," the other salesguy chimes in. "I'm giving one to my niece for her 21st birthday. She's a fine shot." I'm not sure whether he's boasting or poking fun at me - probably both. Apparently, I'm holding a girl's gun.
"Guns are great to have around," he continues. "Just like seat belts and fire extinguishers - you don't know when you're going to need one, but when there's an intruder in my house I'll be glad to have it." I look around and watch a dozen or so gun-toting, plaid-wearing bearded guys nod in agreement. I decide now's not the time to mention that children can't accidentally kill themselves by playing with seat belts and a fire can't steal your fire extinguisher and use it against you.
Having completed my eight-second firearm tutorial, I don my safety goggles and large red earmuffs and head for the shooting range. Carefully cradling my pistol and a box of 50 .38 Specials to my chest, I ease my way down to lane number six. Every few seconds I violently twitch as another gun is fired; even with ear protection the noise is deafening. I'll be glad to get out of here without soiling my undergarments.
I take my target - a large off-white sheet featuring a potential intruder's head and torso - and clip it to the metal pole above me. A flick of a switch sends it flying backward into space. I load my pistol and take aim, briefly wondering how much it hurts to accidentally shoot oneself in the foot.
I squeeze off shot after shot, jumping at the sound of each one. Some people feel powerful with a pistol in their hand; I feel terror. I reload rapidly, hoping I run out of rounds before I run out of luck and end up with nine fingers.
It's not until I leave that I relax enough to take a look at my target. Though I aimed at my intruder's heart on every shot, most sailed wide, past his right shoulder. When I find an intruder in my house, I'll just throw a fire extinguisher at him.
BILL ZUCK, a former Foxboro resident, is relieved to still have all of his digits. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story found on The High Road.