Firearms aren’t magical. They have no supernatural powers.
There. I said it!
I never thought I would have to write that though. Nor did I ever imagine I would need to actually declare that a tool designed to launch projectiles through a metal tube with explosive force does not possess mystical powers of any kind. Of course, this is contrary to the belief of a certain professor of anthropology from Dartmouth College who recently claimed that even the mere presence of a firearm, especially if someone makes physical contact with it, can transform a good person into a bad one.
Deciphering Fact From Fiction on Guns
When I first read the article sharing the professor’s concerns, I had to check to see if I was mistakenly reading about something from Dungeons & Dragons or perhaps getting a glimpse into a fantastical plot — like some Tolkien-esque elven gifts from Lothlorien or maybe even the supreme evil Horcruxes from Harry Potter.
Alas, the professor (I am not even going to repeat her name) is referring to guns … in the year 2019. She claims that the technology and the symbolism of a gun can encourage someone to shoot, and that the “supernatural potency of [a firearm can] change people into unethical agents.” In other words, she argues that guns exhibit “a power akin to magic: the power to create a change in someone’s state of mind.” So good people with guns become bad. And bad people with guns become worse.
Living With Firearms
I have guns. I use them fairly often — for training, for instructing and for competition. They certainly don’t make me feel like I’m under the spell of these lifeless objects. I have not been altered, enhanced or influenced in any way to use a firearm for nefarious tasks. And, honestly, I can’t say that I’ve seen any evil changes in any of my fellow instructors, students or the responsibly armed Americans in my circle.
If anything, I, along with many people I know, through repeated contact with firearms (and through countless hours of training), have LESS desire to use a gun now than ever before. While it may be fun to put holes in paper, I hope I NEVER have to use my firearm in a violent encounter. And if having guns has changed me, it’s only because I am more cautious and more aware. But that’s not because of a firearm’s supernatural potency. It’s because of my own personal responsibility.
Turning the Tables
I’d like to turn the tables around a bit. I’m just curious if the magical influence works both ways. Let’s take an olive branch, for example. The use of an olive branch as the end of conflict and as a symbol for peace dates back to ancient Greece. Can I stick an olive branch in the hands of a murderer and get an automatic, supernatural turnaround? Will the mere presence of the inanimate branch, especially if someone makes physical contact with it, transform a bad person into a good one? If it worked, I think prisons would be filled with the branches — olive branch wallpaper, pictures, wreaths, centerpieces, headpieces — olive branches for all!
I certainly realize the significance of symbols, icons and even artifacts (as they specifically relate to communication). And while I understand why people tend to group certain objects into various categories, I can assure you that it is the human being who has direct power and influence over an object. Not the other way around. In that respect, a gun (in and of itself) is neither good nor bad, but it can most certainly be used for either, dependent upon its wielder.
About Beth Alcazar
Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor as well.