By Crystal X.
I think every gun owner has had a moment of self-doubt, a moment when they’ve questioned their reasons for owning guns. Do we buy gun after gun for that fleeting feeling of euphoria only to cast it aside as another firearm catches our eye, or is there a deeper reason for why we brand ourselves firearms enthusiasts? I was born in Red China, three months before the start of the Cultural Revolution, and went to college during the student protests and massacres of Tiananmen Square. I’ve lived through the depredations of the Red Guards, and felt that brief glimmer of hope in 1989, only for it to be crushed beneath the steel treads of government tanks . . .
To me guns are not just tools; they are symbols of individualism in the face of conformance, of history written in wood and steel, and of the chance to stand up against incredible odds.
There’s a clichéd old saying that goes something like, “when the whole world tells you to move, that’s when you plant your feet and say, no, you”. As a high schooler I was constantly at odds with the school administration, even going so far as to say, “there will not be true communism in our time.” If I had said that ten years earlier, I would have been sent to a labor camp. As it stands, I don’t have a high school diploma because I refused to participate in certain activities.
The Chinese government enforced conformance through measured application of force and coercion. There was no way for us to stand up to them. If the government controlled the very fiber of our society from high school upwards, how could the protests at Tiananmen ever have ended any differently? When soldiers were in the streets of every major city, and students were being outed as traitors on national TV, how could we resist?
Ask yourself, would the minuteman still be a symbol of American liberties if you took away his musket? Would he still be that champion of freedom, or would he be another nobody, unceremoniously shuffled off to be executed for the heinous crime of non-compliance?
On my wall, there hangs an old Hanyang 88, a copy of the Gewehr 1888 produced at Hanyang Arsenal. To me, it’s not just a battered old rifle, it’s a war hero that tells the story of desperate rearguard actions against the Kwantung Army and young men going to war in straw sandals against all the industrial might of the Japanese Empire. Every dent, ding, and scrape is an etching that represents the history of my nation. Ironically, the very rifle that broke the shackles of Japanese Imperialism is now illegal in the land it was forged.
I think, through all these years, my firearms have become an extension of myself. My ideas and views have shaped how I view my guns, and in turn my guns have shaped how I view the outside world. Truth be told, it’s not about the gun. It’s about the person. I personally believe each person should have a favorite gun, that way, no matter how it looks or what shape it’s in, it’ll be yours. You’ll know exactly how to treat it and use it and soon the physical bond will become slightly emotional. Personally, the newer a gun is, the more worn and scuffed it has to look to be appealing. It has to be headed toward the gritty future, not the pristine one.