Monday, November 19, 2007

Why I Don't Name My Guns

Definition: anthropomorphic 1: Described or thought of as having a human form or with human attributes (~ dieties) 2: ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things (~supernaturalism)

It is an old tradition, naming one's personal possessions, most especially weapons. I think this first shows up in the old Norse sagas or perhaps the Arthurian legends. A warrior dubbed his sword or battle ax Snickersee or Blood Drinker or something else he deemed suitable.

This naming of favored weapons definitely originated in a time when it was thought that many gods and goddesses held sway over the Earth, and spirits were everywhere. It certainly made as much sense to think of a weapon having a spirit, or being inhabited by a spirit, as to think of the spirits of the rocks, and the trees, and the grain. Perhaps even more sense. One tried to stay on the good side of the spirits controlling trees and crop production, because, in a season or two, a harvest might be effected thereby. But the warrior's weapons? Might not these items work or fail, preserve or lose the bearer's life, in the twinkling of an eye? Not some time this fall, but RIGHT NOW! Hey, a fighting person needed every break he could get, and it just didn't DO, not to cover all the bases.

The names of some of the famous weapons have been passed down to us in the legends and stories - - Hrunting,
Sword of Beowulf; Arondight , Sword of Lancelot, and that of his boss, King Arthur's Excalibur. There is an entire pantheon of famous, named swords.

Perhaps the most famous named firearm (actually firearms) were those of David Crockett
: Betsy, Old Betsy, and Pretty Betsy. (Just plain Betsy was the one that Col. Crockett brought to Texas, and which was lost at the Mission San Antonio de Valero . The other two are exhibited in museums.)

The problem with anthropomorphizing weapons is that when you do, you needs must allow that have a certain amount of WILL, apart and separate from the wielders. Such a viewpoint MIGHT start an impressionable person into a spiral of loss of logic and reasoning, a slippery slope which ends with feeling the inanimate object is capable of possessing a will of its own. By extension, it might well be capable of independent action. This would be bad enough, Lord knows, but it goes farther, giving the weapon the power to influence the possessor, or even those nearby.

Now, all this is different from a good workman liking a particularly dependable or finely crafted tool. A carpenter may go through several hammers to find one that "feels right." And every shotgunner above the grade of novice knows the importance of having a well-fitting gun for wing shooting. This has to do with design and balance and ergonomics, not a spirit or demon inhabiting the tool. The US Marine Corps Rifleman's Creed
expresses the interdependence of a highly trained person and a precision tool, edging right up against anthropomorphism, but not attributing free will to the weapon.

I know many shooters who put a name on their favorite firearm. This normally from a sense of tradition, or in memory of long and dependable service. It does no harm to the user, certainly. The problem, though, is when the anti-gun forces turn this benevolent practice against us. When they see us giving human characteristics to a gun, they make free to go a step farther. If you listen to the hoplophobes, the mere possession of a black-stocked rifle, or one with a longish curved magazine, causes an otherwise rational person to become a mass murderer. Simply dubbing (erroneously) a firearm an ASSAULT RIFLE imbues it with the magical power to cloud men's minds, send them to a workplace or a McDonald's full of kids, and start shooting.

Probably, most of those who read my blog already understand the truth of the matter: Certain tools are particularly well designed to perform a certain task, in the hands of a knowledgeable user. It is the user, not the tool, that determines if it is used for good or ill. It certainly has nothing to do with the supernatural or with any magical powers ascribed to firearms in general.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time dealing with everyday aggravations. What with the IRS and the city utility office and the neighbors' dogs, I just don't have time to deal with malevolent spirits in my cherished firearms.


[TU20NOV2007 Edited to correct spelling error. JPG]


Don Gwinn said...

To each his own, but I can't think of a single anti-gunner who got the idea from the fact that some shooter named his gun.

phlegmfatale said...

This makes perfect sense to me.

jimbob86 said...

Awwwwww....... But it IS fun to scare the holophobes......

Anonymous said...

If it's the scary black and the name "assault rifle" that freaks out the GFWs, lets paint them all rainbow colors and call them "Happy Happy Fun Guns". Won't change my groups at 200 yds, won't make my offhand scores at matches any better, and in the end it won't make those who want to ban my rifle any happier, will it?

Jay G said...

I can see where you're coming from, JPG, I can.

You do have to realize, though - all the kowtowing in the world isn't enough for the antis. They're only concerned about one thing and one thing only: Getting guns out of private possession. If we all stopped naming our firearms tomorrow, they'd just find somethine ELSE to complain about.

As such, my home defense shotgun (Winchester 1300 with uber-tactical add-ons and eeeevil black plastic furniture) will remain "Hagar the Horrible".

And if it annoys, pesters, or otherwise vexes some filthy hippie, all the better...