Harold Wayne Carver II, M.D., could not be more pleased. Asked to explain how guns work, the balding, graying, bearded giant in suspenders theatrically begins selecting bullets from the vast assortment he stores in a deep cardboard crate in his Farmington office. By the time Carver examines his patients, it’s too late to talk to them about the physical properties of gunpowder. By then, they’ve been toe-tagged and body-bagged.
“A gun is a device for imparting energy to tissue at a distance,” he says, the precision of his words contrasting starkly with his actions. Rummaging through his box, he absentmindedly holds bullets between his teeth even as he continues to talk. “First, it’s mechanical energy: The bullet going fast. Then, it pokes a hole and delivers energy to tissue as it slows down. The problem is that, usually, the bullet destr
oys things other than the tissue it touches.”