Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Arms and the Man with the Getaway Face

I went to the gun range tonight to help my wife practice.  She has a 9mm Glock 17.  I was unarmed and she did all the shooting.  I had my copy of Slayground by Richard Stark with me but could not get any reading done with all the gunfire.   Instead I was put in charge of reloading the magazines and sweeping up shell casings.  (I'm sort of a modern day Stubbs.  Helpful, but limited.)

I got to thinking while she blasted away that for a series of books called The Violent World of Parker, the guns, for the most part are pretty tame.  In Slayground, Parker knocks off an armored car with some explosives and then gets trapped in Fun Island armed with a Smith & Wesson Terrier .32 five shot revolver with a two inch barrel.  That was in 1971.  Today no one would ever consider using such a dinky gun in a heist like that, especially a big, tough guy like Parker.  (Note:  I have been reading these Parker books in chronological order and realize that the attitude towards firepower may have changed by the time the series resumes in 1997 with Comeback.)  Most of the guns used or mentioned in the books are .32s or .38s.  There are some .22s and .25s.  Yes, machine guns are used in a few jobs but I view those as exceptions.  For the most part, people in Parker's world used small caliber revolvers and they are generally effective enough to do the job.  The few automatics mentioned are .380 caliber and only hold seven shots.  The Glock magazines I was reloading hold 17 rounds (plus the round in the chamber make for 18 shots in one gun).

For a multitude of reasons there has been a sea change in attitudes about the amount of firepower needed in handguns.  My gut tells me that it is guns in pop culture (on tv, and in films, and in music) that drive people to want bigger handguns.  And I suppose gun technology has changed tremendously since the Parker books started so it is cheaper and easier to get good, high-powered weapons. 

So while I was surround by 9mm Glocks and some very loud .45 automatics tonight, I think I prefer the menace of Parker with smaller weapons (or those giant hands of his).

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