Way of the Gun I don't quite understand how this happened, but, without ever holding a gun in my life, much less firing one, I somehow became something of an expert in firearms. Not quite at the level that I could fieldstrip an M-16, but enough to know that you should fieldstrip your M-16 frequently, as they are prone to jamming at the most inopportune time--such as when someone with a much-more-trustworthy-but-less-accurate AK-47 pops out of a rice paddy and unleashes all 30 of his rounds at you, which you wouldn't be able to respond in kind to, anyway, since the M-16 doesn't have full auto ability anyway.
Which is kind of a holdover from 100 years of US military tradition, dating back to around the Civil War, when it was believed that the inability to put a lot of lead into the air quickly would train soldiers to choose their shots more wisely and actually save lives. The experiences of Custer and his troops exposed how false this could be, but nevertheless, the US military sometimes takes a long time to learn lessons, and sometimes avoids the point entirely.
However, if your M-16 doesn't jam, and you do manage to put one of your rounds into Mr. AK, you might be interested to know that the M-16 (and the M-4, which is designed for full automatic fire) uses a smaller cartridge than the NATO standard round the AK fires, which allows for a greater muzzle velocity, but isn't designed to kill, per se. It's designed to, if it doesn't kill, hurt the victim a lot, incapacitate him, and distract his comrades, who will be forced to spend their time helping their friend rather than killing their enemy (i.e. You).
The idea of guns is disturbing enough as it is, but for engineers to design something that specifically exploits human compassion to strategic effect...well, that seems brilliantly disturbing to me.
I'm really much more of a "One Shot, One Kill" type, so designing a weapon that doesn't kill in a single shot seems somehow wrong to me. Give me the Finnish Lapua .338 round any day...the round of choice for snipers all over the world.
And yes, I do find it disturbing to think this way. To find I have subconscious bloodlust, not to mention an engineer's fascination with killing technology...well, it confuses the hell out of this pacifist with an English degree.
It confuses me that I can identify the sound of an MG-42 German machine gun, even though it was invented and used before my parents were even born. It disturbs me that I know the fire rate of an MP5. It disturbs me to watch a World War II movie and think, "The guy using the BAR should have tapped that clip against his helmet a couple of times like a pack of cigarettes. I hope it doesn't jam because the rounds aren't flush with each other." What type of weirdo critiques the way a fictional character loads a Browning Automatic Rifle?!?
Is this more or less disturbing than my friend's morbid and consuming fascination with cannibalism? (The two do seem rather complimentary, now that I think about it)
And where did I learn all this (hopefully) useless knowledge? TV and video games, of course. It's possible that my gun delusions are mostly prey to some influential foley artist's impression of armed combat, but the overwhelming sameness of all these sounds--whether it be from "Band of Brothers," "Saving Private Ryan," "Half-Life," or "Die Hard," lead me to suspect one thing.