Recently, there was a massive discussion in one of the forums that I follow regarding gun play. Specifically, the discussion began with a person asserting that gun play should never be taught at public BDSM events because “it can never be safe.” (Check out the comments for an example of this type of person)
Upon further examination, it is clear that we, as a society, have worked so hard to scare people about the dangers of guns that we forget that they CAN be handled safely and that, without bullets, a gun is just a hunk of metal, no more dangerous than a steel pipe.
One of the first things that we must do, if we are going to talk about this subject, is to make sure we know what a “gun” is.
The word gun originates from the early 1300’s from the word Gunilda, which means “engine of war.”
Dictionary.com defines the word gun in the following ways:
a weapon consisting of a metal tube, with mechanical attachments, from which projectiles are shot by the force of an explosive; a piece of ordnance.
any portable firearm, as a rifle, shotgun, or revolver.
a long-barreled cannon having a relatively flat trajectory.
any device for shooting something under pressure: a paintgun; a staple gun.
If you use the last definition, then all of these things are guns:
And it seems a bit silly to argue about whether it is safe to play with spit balls or a booby squirt gun, so I won’t. Instead, I will focus on the first two definitions presented. I will focus on firearms and objects designed to look like firearms.
I have a background in theater. And in many plays that I performed in, we used props that had been designed to be exact replicas of firearms, but only in appearance. Their inner workings had been modified, or had never existed in the first place, such that it incapable of firing a bullet. Some of them did fire blanks, however, which made a sound and sometimes a flash of light for realism. Over the years, I pointed these “guns” at people and pulled the trigger on a number of occasions. But it was always safe. If blanks were being used, we had a ballistics specialist who inspected and loaded the gun immediately before it’s use, which both I and the person I would be firing at observed.
According to many people, what I was doing violated the “first rule of gun safety”, that a gun should never be point at anything unless I intend to destroy it. But why? If there was only negligible risk in the activity, what is the problem?
And if you can acknowledge that the dangers of the weapon had been mitigated in that example, then you should be able to see how the same can be done to a functioning weapon. If before you play, you ensure that no bullets are in the gun, not by assuming so, but by checking yourself to make sure, then the object which was formerly a weapon, is now nothing more than a complicated piece of metal that makes a little clicking noise, similar to one of these:
An unloaded gun is not dangerous. If you insist that it is, then you are most likely reacting to an emotional trigger associated with guns (no pun intended). There’s nothing wrong with that. Lot’s of people have triggers. I have several of my own. But it’s important to be conscious of your triggers and own them, and not to project them onto others.
Everything that we do in BDSM has some sort of inherent risk. If a person bumps into you during knife play, you could slice the person open. You can mitigate this risk by not using sharp knives. If you make a mistake during single-tail whipping, you could permanently damage the person, a risk that can be mitigated by carefully choosing your targets and practicing the skills to maintain precision.
Gun play is no different. Yes, playing with a loaded weapon would be incredibly dangerous, but if the proper precautions are taken, which could range from ensuring that it isn’t loaded up to using facsimile weaponst. If these precautions are diligently observed, the risks of gun play are reduced to the level of risk involved with spanking.
But there is still the emotional reaction to consider. In fact, that reaction is exactly what makes gun play so appealing to those who use it. But it’s important to consider the reactions of others around you in addition to the person you are playing with. You may have negotiated with them, but you have likely not negotiated with everyone else at the play party. And for all you know, one of the people in the room was raped at gun point at some point in her life, or suffers from PTSD related to war combat. It is for this reason that guns are prohibited at most public events, a position that I agree with.
But in cases where the party or class has been specifically arranged to include gun play so that everyone who attends is aware and consents, and so long as stringent safety protocols are in place, I see no reason why this one topic should be avoided.
In fact, choosing to exclude this type of play from things like conventions increases its danger. Instead of learning how to properly handle a weapon and ensure safety, people will instead have to explore the fantasy of gun play on their own, and they are likely to not observe the safe practices which lower the risks.
It all comes down to the same argument, whether you are talking about breath play, blood play, or gun play. Education makes everyone safer. If you choose to exclude a type of play from your educational programming, you have to live with the consequences, which may include the death of one of your members.
Guns are scary. But ultimately they fall under the same umbrella, whether SSC or RACK or whatever, as everything else in BDSM. Know the risks, do everything within reason to mitigate them, and have the consent of everyone involved. That’s all we can ever demand.