Counter protestors clash With AR-15 holding, Kevlar vest wearing, Digicam helmeted, 2nd Amendment Open carry activists. Green t-shirts With bold white slogans Pulled over polos Carrying picket signs And beige plastic tube blunderbusses. They maintain trigger control and keep their PVC muzzles pointed At the ground In mocking mimic Of the Mass shooter, Militia, Violent conspiracy theorist supporting, Hysterically screaming, Morbidly unhealthy, Skinny crazy eyed, Gun rights rallyers. On a test range A man in 5.11 tactical khakis Holds a foot and a half long 3.5in diameter beige tube. At the back is a pistol grip With a microphone And speaker And a trigger. He pulls the trigger. The self-defense pipe Erupts Throwing a wide wave of Pink, Sticky, Elmer’s Glue thick Pepper gel Slapping into the Paper silhouette target At 450 fps. GPS trackers Embedded with the gel Like the wad In a shotgun shell Ripped through the paper, Stuck to the sand Behind. The phone in the handle Calls 911 when the trigger is pulled. An operator, Warned ahead of time About their test Jokes that “The suspect Doesn’t appear to be moving much. Hiding at the scene of the crime, A new technique maybe?” After the shot Pink-white cloud Lingers over the area Like the smoke from a musket volley. A trailer house living room The front door open The flimsy screen door Stuck open, Bent from being slammed Into the wooden banister. A cloud of pink-white haze lingers over An empty, Quiet, Room. Airborne gel settling onto a couch And particle board end table. Wave of gel covering a huge swath Of the wall above the couch, With a silhouette vaguely showing. The 911 operator is silent, But still recording. 22 minutes later Police pull over a truck Driven by a man Covered in paste Exuding a silent GPS signal. In the bed A cold, Small, Body Hastily wrapped in a sheet, The sheet secured Against the highway winds With hooked bungee cords. A father hands his daughter A flare gun sized version, The most popular version. Not restricted on college campuses “And because they won’t pass those…” He trails off about On campus concealed carry Or something, As she reads the instruction manual That he has not. A voice in an alley way Apologizes to the operator. Thinks it was a mistake. Not sure what he looked like, Not sure what he was going to do. The police who find him And the gun he tossed as he started to run, And the blood under his fingernails, Are pretty sure what He intended to do. And if you trust them, Then good to have pulled the trigger. A survivor Watches the protest on tv. Wandering when it will turn into A scene from The Patriot Blood and smoke and running And killing over politics. An aisle at a sporting goods store. Reset key, like a hex key, To reconnect the phone to the trigger. Replacement CO2 canisters, Replacement tubes With varying features, Better GPS, More intense burning, Wider spray. Hesitant to kill. And hesitant to explain, To the inevitably descending police Why they pulled the trigger. Neither side turns it into A battlefield. A stalemate for now, A show for the cameras.
*This is a piece I have been working on for a long time. Years I guess. I remember seeing a picture where someone laid out all the devices from the 80s or 90s that are now inside your smartphone. I thought it would be interesting to ask if you could do the same with a self defense device.
I also am a little tired of thinking of self defense devices in terms of little pepper sprays, tasers, and then making the huge leap to an actual firearm. What if we could find some middle ground. Where the immense power that you’re bringing to the fight is not that you will kill that person, but rather that you will sick the teeth of the justice system on them. Colored, hard to get off wave of sprayed material, immediate call to 911 so the recording of the attack can begin, a GPS location of the attack recorded, throw GPS trackers onto the target when they flee. Really bring new meaning to the “caught red handed,” turn of phrase.
I also love the image of this as a type of anti-weapon for counter-protestors to wield against pro-gun groups. It’s something that says, “-I am uncomfortable with what you are doing. – I will not stoop to your level to show it. – I am not defenseless. – And I am willing to take responsibility for my actions.” I like the idea of these protestors having something clearly contradictory in their hands that goes beyond a picket sign.