Friday, December 28, 2012

Animators with Shotguns

In 1992, I was in San Francisco doing storyboards for The Nightmare Before Christmas.  My friend and colleague James Baker called to see if I'd be into going skeet shooting.  Dave Gordon had shotguns and wanted to go to a shooting range in Oakland.  My experience with rifles was strictly of the arcade variety, but I had a car, which made me an ideal person to let tag along.

We headed over the Bay Bridge to a grassy firing range I swear I have seen on Mythbusters.  The first thing I learned about shotguns is that their recoil hurts.  On my first try, the gun kicked back so violently, it whacked me in the mouth.  I saw cartoon stars for a few seconds as I rolled my tongue along my teeth, taking inventory.  James didn't do much better, and Dave had to give us a lesson on how to hold on to the beastly thing.

After a few rounds, the range pro (or whatever he's called) came over and not only fine-tuned my rifle holding, but also adjusted my stance.  By simply pointing my toes in a certain direction, I became a clay pigeon killing machine.

Pull!   BLAM!   Pull!  BLAM!

Man, what a blast.  Literally.  I had such a good time, I thought, "I should buy a shotgun."  When I got back to my apartment, I found a huge black and purple bruise on my left shoulder at the spot where I had nested the rifle butt.  It was the baddest bruise I have ever had.  Maybe skeet shooting wasn't my a new hobby after all.

I haven't fired a gun since that day, but I fully admit it was fun.  For most people who own guns, its about fun. The gun, to them, is an adult toy not unlike a jet ski or a sports car.  They're not hunting for dinner like Lewis and Clarke on expedition, but they're playing that role.  Personally, when it comes to adult toys, I would much rather drive a sports car or jet ski than hide in the cold woods to shoot an unsuspecting animal, but my point is, the people who do this are not doing so out of hate.

But there are gun owners motivated by hate; people who own guns for protection from some perceived threat, be it the threat of neighborhood thugs, Big Government, or alien body snatchers.  These are the scary people,  living inside of scary heads.  

Then there are the villains, people for whom guns are a tool of the trade.  Professionally scary people.

All three categories of gun owners have a friend in the National Rifle Association, or the NRA.  With the recent gun attacks on children, teachers, and firemen by unhinged men with guns,  this group remains petulantly defiant in their position that guns are not the problem, but the answer.

Heston at the NRA convention days after the Columbine attack.  Partiot or idiot?

You may recall, days after the Columbine, Colorado school shooting, the NRA charged on with its convention in nearby Denver.  An early stage Alzheimers Charlton Heston gave a pep rally speech invoking patriotism (corny) and threats to their freedom (paranoid), finishing with a vague threat to Al Gore while holding up a rifle and declaring "From my cold, dead, hands!".  The crowd cheered wildly, intoxicated by the baddass rhetoric of an old, senile movie star in a wig.  They much prefer the fantasy America of old movies with gun toting heroes to the real one of teenage corpses shot in the science lab by losers.  And while Heston now indeed has cold, dead hands (it's safe now, Al!), the NRA keeps on truckin' with credos like "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."  Their logic is so backward, they can't see that their own slogan is an argument for gun control.  People kill?  Best not give them guns then, eh?

This time around, there's only dorky Wayne LaPierre to rally the mob, but they're not cheering along - not yet, anyway.  His rhetoric is not much different than Heston's, but it's not flying.  I sincerely hope the horrible events this past month mark the nadir of gun proliferation, that gun owners themselves have had enough of the NRA's bullshit and help solve the problem.  Fun time is over.

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