Guns-and-girls.com, the Website, is hot. With sometimes sexy chicks wearing matching lingerie sets and firing large weapons in video clips and photo sets, the site is slightly seedy, alluringly amateur, and weirdly sexy.
The concept is simple enough. "I like girls, I like guns," says founder Michael Anderson, a soft-spoken mustachioed Southerner, who started the site two years ago. The pairing of the two seemingly disparate components makes for a successful formula, (kind of like Charlie's Angels, but more hillbilly). And the bigger the guns and the hotter the girls, the better.
The site has something for everyone. Little tiny handguns dance in the hands of buxom blondes. Big honkin' machine guns accessorize tight-assed brunettes. An extensive archive of photo sets show gals posing with the firearms, and a comprehensive collection of videos let viewers see and hear as the women discharge their weapons. Along with the titillating content comes plenty of gun information, gun safety tips, links to gun Websites, and even some "erotic" gun-themed short stories.
Guns-and-girls.com has a folksy, rough design. Pixelated graphics and animated gifs of waving flags are found alongside colloquial phrases and non-standard English, creating a redneck pastiche that belies the actual sophistication of the site. Though it's not always pretty to look at, the site works, and its awkward design and use of language helps to make it friendly and accessible.
But to fully investigate the Guns-and-Girls situation, you can't just point and click. I agreed to ante up. Get in the trenches, so to speak. In October, I boarded a plane to Kentucky, panties in hand, to pose as a real live gun lady in with a fully automatic weapon. I drove a rental car down a highway called Dixie past the cement factory and the Patton Museum and plenty of diners and dingy discount stores and strip clubs. By the time I hit the hot tub across the highway from Fort Knox, I was already deep in over my head.
That's where I met Daisy, who calls herself "UziGunChic" in chat rooms, a slender blond wearing Wal-Mart camo lingerie and bragging about her gun prowess. She's been shooting handguns since she was 8, but only picked up machine gunnery since meeting her current husband, Charles, a proud owner of more artillery than either of them could count.
"So," I say, "what's your favorite firearm?" (Because, really, what else is there to say to her?)
"Uzi," she replies.
The first sign I encounter on the way into the Knob Creek Gun Range warns of the risks to life and limb that may be encountered beyond. The next sign reads "Caution, children playing." If contradiction makes the world go round, I'd come to the right place.
It's a crisp Monday morning. The Gun Range is nearly empty. Crews are cleaning up from the twice-yearly "machine gun shoot" which took place over the weekend. I'm told this is a treat for machine gun owners, a rare chance to actually discharge their weapons. Over 6,000 folks drove in from all over for the occasion, pickup trucks and trailers chock full of ammo and guns. The landscape is gorgeous - trees and kudzu; everything's so green.
Daisy steps out of the dressing room, which is a very serious-looking aluminum and tarp tent that had been set up earlier that morning. It's freezing out, but she's stoic in her exotic, fringed ensemble. Standing on spiked heels, she steps up to a tripod-mounted MG-42, a WW2-era machine gun made in Germany. The battle cry rises in the field. "Ears!" Everyone checks to make sure their hearing is protected before the underwear-clad vixen masterfully pulls the trigger.
The first time a gunshot ring outs (and ring they do, shattering the calm) through the crisp morning air, I'm putting on lipstick. Sudden dark thumps shake the ground and rattle up my legs, landing somewhere between sternum and spleen. I pause my lip pencil, dreading a smear. An MG-42 shoots about 20 rounds per second. The burst of fire doesn't last long, and soon Daisy trots triumphantly back to the tent, where she strips down and dolls herself up into another perfectly matching lingerie set.
If it's possible to backburner political ideals and bask for a moment in the splendor of the Second Amendment, then, ostensibly, shooting machine guns can be fun. I admit to enjoying backyard BB-gun can shooting in the past. I'd even taken skeet as a gym class in college and I was no stranger to the pleasures of firing a 9mm. I was, however, a machine gun virgin. And never before, I might add, had I shot in my skivvies. So when it's my turn to step up, I do so with trepidation, wearing saggy mens' underwear and a so-called wife-beater t-shirt. My safety lesson from Daisy lasted about 15 seconds. "Keep the gun pointed towards the range," she said.
She showed me the trigger and handed over the gun, which was big and powerful and scary.
The Guns-and-Girls Website does not want girls to have strained faces while aiming their weaponry, so I was told to fire in the general direction of "over there" and then I squeeze the trigger and the cameras start clicking. Not long after, I was fresh out of bullets.
"It's the mechanics I find fascinating," Ed tells me. He'd lent a few of his prized units for the shoot. I find the mechanics of my sewing machine fascinating, too, so I guess I should understand, but I'm just not feeling it. I hand back whatever large machine gun I'd just shot, straining to hide my disappointment. It just wasn't all that, I was thinking. I'm hung up on not being able to shoot at anything in particular. I'm the kind of shooter who needs confirmation that the shot has gone somewhere, and without seeing the target with the little (or huge) holes in it, the shooting may as well not have even happened. Ed is very nice and gives me a lot of facts and information about all of his guns, most of which I immediately forget. Bullet sizes, rounds per minute, country of origin, etc. I smile a lot and nod my head.
And so it goes, throughout the day. We change outfits, switch weapons, and fire at nothing. I hear a lot of reasons about why gun owners own guns, none of them very persuasive. I shoot a 1919 U.S. Belt-fed (don't know the exact model), an M16, an FNC, an HK53, and an Uzi. Some kick back so hard I struggle to stay standing, and others, mounted on a tripod, only require the slightest pressure from a finger in order to reap mass destruction.
By the end of the day, I'm surprised to have become an advocate of gun control. Sure, the site is smokin'. The fantasy of Guns-and-Girls is a winner. The women are fine looking, and with their powerful weapons, they fit snugly within the realm of the �berdominatrix. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this slice of the gun community. Everyone has been polite and generous and patient. But I can't get my mind off the CNN story I'd watched that morning in the hotel, about the sniper on the loose around DC. And I keep thinking of the garages and basements full of safes all over the country, housing countless private armories in the name of freedom and patriotism and the Second Amendment. And for me, that's just not very sexy at all.