The Walking Dead, arguably one of the most-watched scripted shows on television nowadays, has been renewed for an upcoming eighth season. Personally, I’ve just about given up on this program, but if you’ve ever tuned in to watch it, this hugely popular zombie apocalypse extravaganza showcases some pretty iconic weapons — and some pretty popular firearms — on a weekly basis. But John McDonald, a friend and fellow member of the pro-2A group Bama Carry, shared an interesting observation about The Walking Dead with me recently: Beyond the mostly inexperienced and untrained characters making countless, perfect headshots (while running, mind you), this TV show actually normalizes firearms and the 2A lifestyle. In what other program can you expect to find just about every main character toting around one — if not more — Beretta, Colt, Glock, M&P, Sig or Walther (just to name a few) in their shoulder holsters, OWB holsters, thigh holsters … you name it!? It seems that guns for would-be leader Rick Grimes and his “gang” are a normal, everyday part of life.
Of course, my reflections are a bit tongue-in-cheek, and I wouldn’t use this work of fiction as a model to teach anyone about firearms safety, fundamentals or marksmanship, but it is interesting to note that — more or less — the “good guys” on this TV show seem to promote, support and exhibit firearms safety and training. And beyond the annihilation of the flesh-eating dead and other bad guys, it appears that a precedent of respect for firearms has been set. For instance, in episode one of the first season, Rick, along with new friend Morgan and his son Duane, clears out a gun locker at the sheriff’s department. Duane’s eyes widen when he sees the large cache of weapons. He looks to his father and says, “Can I learn to shoot? I’m old enough.” Morgan replies, “Hell, yes, you’re going to learn, but we gotta’ do it carefully. Teach you to respect the weapon.” Then Rick adds, “It’s not a toy. You pull the trigger, you have to mean it.”
Many of The Walking Dead characters also practice shooting, whenever they have the opportunity — and the ammunition — to do so. Even from day one, it seems that Rick (who served as a law-enforcement officer before the zombie outbreak) has pretty consistently advocated for training and for the proper handling of guns. He often stresses that if someone in the group is going to carry and use a gun, they have to know how to use it correctly.
Of course, some folks have attempted to prove that Rick’s no-nonsense attitude about firearms seem to mirror moderate U.S. attitudes on gun ownership and background checks. But I guess it’s all about perspective. Forget the program’s spotlight on reanimated corpses and you are left with a large gathering of firearms supporters and open-carry enthusiasts who proudly believe in their 2nd Amendment right to protect themselves and their loved ones. And while I may still catch an episode or two in the coming months (while looking out for new guns, laughing at impossible shots and watching for the inevitable, unsafe finger on the trigger), at the very least, no matter what The Walking Dead’s gun politics truly are, we can take some pleasure in the fact that the show tends to respect firearms and treat them as an important and inevitable part of this complicated balance of life. Take that, anti-gun Hollywood elitists!