The Origins of Two Bumper Stickers: An Admission

I’m sure you are aware of the two bumper stickers most frequently used by the NRA to combat gun control laws. The first reads: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” The second reads: “If you really want to kill someone, you’ll find a way to do it.” (Meaning that the gun is not the important thing, just the intent.)

I am finally admitting: I wrote those two bumper stickers. I get royalties every time one of them is used.

It happened this way: a friend and I were hunting Kodiak bears in Alaska. I was carrying the Kodiak bear gun. We saw a bear about thirty yards away. The bear roared and then charged. My friend looked at me and said, “I think you should use the gun to shoot the bear.”

I didn’t want to, though, because I felt coming upon me a profound thought – one of those thoughts that change society.

“Shoot the bear,” he said again.

“Give me a minute. A great thought is forming itself in my mind.”

“Yes, but the bear is coming on.”

That was true enough; the bear was no more than ten paces away.

“It’s very urgent,” he said, “that you shoot the bear RIGHT NOW!”

“I’ve almost got it. And it’s a great thought.”


Then I had it! I looked at him, just as the bear reared its massive form above us, roaring, poised to knock our heads off with one huge paw: And I said: “Guns don’t kill Kodiak Bears; people kill Kodiak Bears!”

Still not understanding that this was a phrase destined to change the outlook of all Americans, he said: “But wouldn’t the gun help? Wasn’t the gun, when one thinks of it, invented expressly for this purpose? Is it possible that pure volition, in and of itself, is merely a necessary but not sufficient condition to commit the act?”

I shook my head, uttering the second great bumper sticker: “If you really want to kill a Kodiak bear, you’ll find a way to do it!”

And that’s how those two bumper stickers came to be.

PS: Many people are worried about how this episode ended. I can safely promise you that the bear was not hurt. In tiny print at the bottom of every bumper sticker bearing this slogan are the letters NBWHICTBS, or, No Bears Were Hurt in Creating This Bumper Sticker.

You can read it.

I would not lie about this.

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