Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About #Resisting Gun Control

Harry Potter fans
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March 26, 2018

Time magazine reporter Charlotte Alter posted a tweet-thread over the weekend noting how, speaking to the participants of the March For Our Lives, she noticed that most of the high schoolers crafted their arguments in the language of Harry Potter.

It's not surprising that children view the world through the lens of a children's tale, but it is unwise. The villains of Harry Potter are one-dimensional Wizard Nazis with a leader literally incapable of feeling love. These books can't serve as a guide to policy debates in which well-meaning individuals disagree, legislation requires bipartisan support, and there are no magical solutions. Otherwise you end up believing Rick Scott is "Voldemort" weeks after he signed gun control measures into law, or that disagreeing with 17-year-olds is equivalent to torturing them with spell Cruciatus.

Even if you buy into the notion that fantasy books should dictate our policy, I find it surprising that so many of the children who read Harry Potter came away thinking we need more gun control. I've read all seven books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I've ever read.

Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone's packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It's an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.

But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it's a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn't commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry accidentally uses magic to attack his helpless aunt who has done nothing but insult him. It's an illicit use of magic that should have seen his wand snapped, but the political influence of the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge ensures that he escapes punishment. (Author J. K. Rowling no doubt was drawing from the example of cities like New York, where only the politically connected and powerful can obtain gun permits.)

Goblet of Fire is the first time we learn that non-humans like elves and goblins, who appear to have all the same sentience and rationality as humans, have been forcibly disarmed by law. When the elf Winky is caught open-carrying, she only avoids legal punishment because her slave master is a powerful Ministry official. Poor Winky is then fired, but luckily the good wizard Dumbledore agrees to re-enslave her in his kitchens.

A year later, in the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is despised by the government. When he stands his ground and uses magic in defense of his cousin, this time he is immediately informed that authorities are coming to destroy his wand. Through the intervention of Dumbledore, he barely avoids punishment meted out by a show trial staffed by politicians.

When Harry returns to Hogwarts, he learns that the government has forcibly added a politician to oversee and sabotage the class in which students learn self-defense. Harry responds by organizing a secret militia to resist both the government and the radical terrorists that Obama-- oh sorry, Fudge-- refuses to name.

But the clearest example of forced disarmament comes in the final book, The Deathly Hallows. The government has been secretly taken over by the evil Voldemort, who passes laws discriminating against wizards who have nonmagical parents. All so-called "Mudbloods" are then disarmed in show trials and forced into homelessness as the "wandless."

In the end, Harry Potter and friends overthrow the corrupt government and defend their freedoms using their extensive combat training. The child militia join forces with adult militia and in a final glorious battle overthrow those trying to oppress them by taking their wands. From their cold dead hands, indeed.

Published under: Gun Control