Kirby: What I won't do with my new cannon

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In an effort to be at least partially responsible (something I'm not very good at), I sent out the following notice to my neighbors Sunday.

"Dear Neighbors, I got a cannon for Christmas. I promise not to shoot it off before 5 a.m. or after 11 p.m. on weekdays. Robert."

Hopefully this will keep the neighbors from calling the cops, including the neighbors who are cops. We'll see.

My wife suggested/demanded that I send out the neighborhood advisory. She didn't know I was getting a cannon for Christmas until I took delivery on it last week. When I brought it home, she freaked.

Following a long discussion — during which I mostly stood in a corner and kept my mouth shut — she laid down some serious gun control measures.

Even though the cannon will fit through the kitchen door, I may not clean it in her house. Shooting the gun from the garage is expressly forbidden. So is shooting it within three miles of an inhabitable structure.

Under no circumstances will I show the grandkids how to load the cannon. No animals may be harmed — deliberately or otherwise — during the firing of the cannon. Finally, if either Sonny or I end up in jail, we are not to call her or her as-yet-to-be-determined attorney.

There's more (a lot), but you get the idea. I swear, it's like being married to a federal agency.

I have no idea what the big deal is. It's not like I bought an assault weapon, a machine-gun, heat-seeking missile or even a high-capacity handgun.

We're talking a 37 millimeter smoothbore howitzer of fine craftsmanship. It fires one shot at a time, takes upwards of five minutes to reload and is no more accurate than congressional thought.

It would be impossible to hijack an aircraft, shoot a president, hold up a convenience store, or lay siege to a public building with this gun. Hell, you can't even conceal the thing.

My new cannon is loud, highly visible and uses black powder, a propellant so malodorous that it's detectable from a distance of 50 miles by a police search squad.

I'm not a criminal. I'm immature. My passion for cannons (catapults, trebuchets, slingshots, rockets, etc.) is entirely fun-based. Sonny and I are not interested in boring stuff like science, engineering, mathematics or revolution.

We only want to know if an orange juice can filled with cement will go clear through a 1965 Plymouth, or whether a cow's head can be hurled from one side of Desolation Canyon to the other intact.

So do you. If I tried to launch a household water heater filled with marbles from my backyard to the state Capitol, don't tell me that you wouldn't want to watch.

Is my new cannon illegal? Probably. OK, of course it is. But so what? Just about every fun thing is illegal or otherwise severely restricted by the forces of darkness.

Conversely, if something isn't fun it's completely permissible and even encouraged. This includes school, broccoli, business meetings, elections, family reunions, sermons and infomercials.

These things can be far more dangerous and costly in the wrong hands than a homemade cannon. But according to my wife, I'm an irresponsible and undisciplined outlaw.

Well, yeah. That's what makes it fun.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or