Cooper’s Rules

I. “All guns are loaded.”
Except for this: as soon as you realize
that some guns are not, you let your guard down.
And before you know it a loaded gun
slips into the mix and you find yourself
in real trouble. Say the gun is sexy
and shows some real talent. Maybe its lines
are smooth and the coldness of the metal
excites you, the danger stirs in you
a feeling you haven’t had in quite some time.
You pick up that gun and feel its strange weight
in your hand, and now you can’t put it down.

II. “Never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t plan to destroy.”
See the thing with guns is that they’re made
to do some kind of damage, inflict some
kind of hot pain, bore through soft tissue
or shatter the bone. They’re not made to comfort
anyone, to bring soup if you’re sick
or make you feel better when you’ve had a bad day.
They won’t remember how you like your steak
or why you don’t like that Eagles song
that everyone else seems to love. Guns are
narcissists from sight to grip, and they
will never change. Don’t turn the muzzle toward you.

III. “Keep your finger off the trigger ‘til your sights are on the target.”
For the love of all that is good and pure
do not put your finger on the trigger
of that gun you can’t make yourself put down.

IV. “Identify your target and what is behind it.”
And once you think you know what it is
you want, think again. Take a few steady breaths.
Look and see what’s collateral before
you lift that gun and ease that trigger back.
Prepare for the kick and the boom. Don’t cry.