Against The Emotional Catharsis Of BB Guns

John Horgan attempts to prove that "if anything, expressing aggression, anger, fear, hatredwhether with a psychotherapist, spouse, friend, office-mate, neighbor, strangermakes you more aggressive, angry, fearful, hateful, not less." He experimented with Airsoft, a sort of bb-gun warfare game in the woods, to test his theory:

Airsoft war games began in Japan more than 30 years ago before spreading to the U.S. and Europe. Since World War II, Japan has had a pacifist constitution and has outlawed gun ownership. Some Airsofters I met in Tolland speculated that Japanese guys love Airsoft because it gives them a chance to play war, which is banned. Japan, in other words, provides tentative evidence for Lorenz's view of sports as healthily cathartic.

But the situation is quite different when you look at the U.S. Many American Airsofters, including some I met in Tolland, were or are soldiers. My group's commandera mild-mannered guy about 30 years oldwas an Army veteran who'd done tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lots of other players were vets, too. After serving in real wars these men come home and play war for fun.