An idea I’ve been playing with lately is the role of guns in warfare. This is a highly controversial topic right now, which is part of why I’ve been a bit hesitant to write anything on the subject. Additionally, I am wholly aware that my thoughts on them are more than a little idealized.
I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t like guns. I don’t like how wasteful they are, what with bullets not being reusable, or how destructive they are, both to the living body and the environment. I don’t like how loud they are, or how dependent they make the average user.
But most of all, guns are a coward’s weapon, come complete with the sort of emotional disconnect that makes it easier to take lives.
Take war, for instance. A soldier just shooting at enemy soldiers doesn’t really know if they hit someone, killed someone. Who can say who the responsibility really falls on? And so we can shirk that responsibility, because in your thoughts, it probably, almost definitely wasn’t you.
And so the act of taking a life has less effect, and war is easier to justify.
Beyond that, guns are incredibly wasteful as compared to more traditional weapons; knives, swords, even arrows can be reused. Not only that, but to use them, you can’t just blindly pull a trigger. You need a lot of training, making it less likely for people to do impulsive things, in war but also in places of peace (school shootings and such).
In writing this, I’m reminded of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when British and German soldiers laid down their guns on Christmas Eve and called a temporary cease-fire, celebrating together. They had been blindly shooting at each other from their respective trenches for months; this added the human element back in. The soldiers saw the effect the fighting was having during their joint burials, gained a new respect for the enemy.
And the next day, the troops there had to be replaced on both sides because these soldiers were refusing to continue the fighting.
Just some thoughts.
2 thoughts on “On Warfare”
I like your way of thinking. I do not like guns, either, and sadly I am very much in the minority when I say that guns do not belong in the hands of the average citizen. It is a topic that stirs deep emotions. And yes, I see your point about making it easier to shirk responsibility in a battle situation, but even more so are bombs, where it is almost like playing a war game … pilots, bombadiers … they never even see the humans they kill, never have to think of them as humans. Anyway, good post. Made me think.
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Let me preface this by noting there are certainly people whose military careers included far more operational experience that mine. With that said, I would note the following: I am unaware of having experienced any sort of emotional detachment during any conflict in which I used a firearm. “Wasteful” is a relative term, and not one that is universally applicable only to guns. I have a good friend who is an Apache. He was raised as closely as possible to the “old ways,” and notes that many of the traditional Apache knives were designed to be thrust into an enemy’s body and simply broken off, leaving the blade buried. I’m not sure of the extent to which it has been demonstrated that traditional arrows, as opposed to their modern counterparts, were recovered intact. That firearms are louder than a bow is of course true. That said, I find it interesting that ancient authors wrote of the “clamor of war” centuries before the advent of forearms. Of course, we lack the ability to make any sort of true comparison. Probably the most accurate thing that can be said is that regardless of the weapons with which it is fought, “war is hell.”
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