Trigger warning: why Hollywood's gun fetish is good for the soul

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2
Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2

Here’s a tale of two revolvers. One is the Model 29 Smith & Wesson used to clean up the streets of 1970s San Francisco by ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan, the fictional police inspector played by Clint Eastwood. The other is a Smith & Wesson too: a smaller Model 27, which the real American politician Robert Budd Dwyer used to blow his brains out in front of television cameras in 1987. 

Start with Eastwood. In Dirty Harry’s most famous scene, our hero mows down two bank robbers with that Model 29 as they flee the scene, then levels it at a third, the camera looking back along its thick, glinting barrel towards its owner’s calm and lightly smirking face. Cue the famous line: “Being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off,” Harry says, “you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry Credit: Rex

Said punk thinks about reaching...

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