Forget the Obama interview–go straight to Walter Kirn’s piece on guns. It’s a brilliant piece of writing:
I also know the opposite feeling, of outmanning someone else, because I pulled a gun on a guy once. It happened outside of the building where I live in downtown Livingston, Montana, a town of 7,000 that I moved to from New York City 23 years ago, back when New York was still considered dangerous. I was in the cab of my Ford pickup after a trip to a mini-storage locker with my two children, who were nine and six. Right across the street was the Mint Bar, a cavernous old brick hideout for midday tipplers in front of which was standing a lean young man who’d glared at me with a manic, feral focus the moment I’d parked and opened the truck door. He seemed high, not just drunk, with that toxic aura of meth, and when our eyes met, he bared his teeth and hissed that he was going to kill me, that I was dead, shifting his weight toward the curb at the same time. Somehow my kids didn’t hear him as they climbed out, nor did they see my reaction to his threat: I opened the glove compartment and removed a long-barreled .22 target pistol that was there by chance, as part of the move. Its rubber grip met my hand and melded with it in a smooth, reflexive motion. I held the gun across my belt line, displaying its silver profile as I turned. The scary young man was about ten yards away by then, but when he saw the gun, his body rocked backward as though in a cartoon. I watched his flushed face drain pale as he backed off, one shoe untied and dragging a long, loose lace. He vanished around the bar’s corner, a full retreat that left me presiding over a total victory that no one, because the street was empty, had witnessed.
A single win is not a streak. It may, in fact, be a basis for self-delusion. Statistics on the dangers guns pose to the health of their owners and those who live with them suggest that I’d be safer selling my guns than reserving them for Tombstone II. Trouble is, in an armed showdown, statistics tend to lose. In those who’ve learned to imagine assailants everywhere and may even have faced a real assailant, guns encourage a sense of personal exceptionalism. It’s the essence of their magnetism. Firearms exist to manage situations where rationality has failed, so thinking rationally about them can be hard.
Kirn’s stuff is so good right now that he might resurrect TNR all on his own.