Why don't Muggle-born wizards use Muggle technology to fight Death Eaters?

  • We know that wizards in the Harry Potter universe are subject to regular physical harm (e.g. witness injuries from being hit by Bludgers or just colliding with things when playing Quidditch).

    Therefore, it's almost a certainty that an average wizard would be vulnerable to, say, a bunch of bullets.

    There may likely be spell(s) to protect from projectiles - witness Dumbledore's shield deployed when Voldemort sent a bunch of glass at him during the Duel in the Ministry Atrium at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (according to Wikia, possibly an unusually powerful Protego or the Silver shield).


    • those spells obviously take effort/energy/time to cast (not everyone's Dumbledore)

    • AND more likely than not most Death Eaters wouldn't recognize a Muggle gun for a threat (or realize what kind of threat) till too late.

    So, the guns should at best allow an over-matched OotP member (e.g. Harry or Hermione) to greatly equalize the power between any regular Death Eaters and themselves, and even perhaps help against Voldemort (who can't be killed with a bullet, but, at best, would need to expend magical energy and time into conjuring a shield, and, at worst, be stopped/interrupted/driven off).

    So I'm looking for an explanation - ideally in-universe, but possibly just some statement by JKR - of why the Muggle-born OotP - who are likely very much at ease AND familiar with Muggle technology and live in the late 20th century - do not use guns. Or, for that matter, ANY Muggle technology of the late 20th century? Cue Arthur C. Clarke's "indistinguishable from magic" meme.

    Even if they are on some kind of idiotic moral crusade to never kill their opponents (even the Jedi aren't this dumb), given the time-frame, non-lethal weapons would have already existed, such as rubber bullets and tasers.

    NOTE: Please don't offer the "if they do it, Death Eaters would start using guns as well" theory. First, Death Eaters would have used the guns if they knew how to, anyway. Second, the guns, like any "secret weapon", could be reserved for strategic battles, say the defense of Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows.

    The origin of the question stems from two things.

    First, Harry's fascination with all things that are different in the magical world (e.g. moving photographs), based on his knowledge of the Muggle material world, as well as the somewhat amusing cluelessness of the "Muggle artifacts" expert, Mr. Weasley, regarding Muggle items and how they work.

    Basically, from the books, it's clear that the Wizarding world wouldn't know details about guns or what they are for or how they work.

    The second thing is it's clear, at least initially, that wizards are afraid of Muggles finding out about them. Hence all the efforts to cloak their society (basically, do you REALLY want every Muggle gunning for you, even with Magic)? The idea of how control over the Muggle world seems to be more indirect, by Death Eaters asserting mind-control over the government. This means there's an implicit understanding by Death Eaters that they don't stand a chance against armed Muggles even given the magical disparity.

    Considering Harry and Hermione's overall adaptability and inventiveness (and brains in the latter case), it's mind-boggling that the idea of fighting Death Eaters with modern technology completely slipped their mind. I mean, it's a basic part of human myth (see Steel vs. Magic themes in Conan books, or Beowulf, or heck, A Yankee in King Arthur's Court). So it's not like the idea of using technology against magic would be impossible to come up with. The question begs itself - why not? Considering the fact that Rowling generally tried to be logical and consistent in building the HP universe, I feel like there must be some in-universe explanation for this that I just didn't notice.

    (in-universe answers only unless there are some authoritative out-of-universe statements that are part of canon).

    forget the wands, things just got real

    That said: The mental image of Harry putting a 9mm up to Voldemort's forehead and uttering a certain line from Dirty Harry before blowing him away, is beyond enjoyable.

    @DampeS8n - I was going more for Trinity's "Dodge THIS" line in my head :)

    @DampeS8N - I have added the rationale behind my wanting to know the answer (short version: it's what I would think up FIRST if I was a weaker magic user up against the stronger one. And Hermione is SMART. She shoulda thunk of it too. Remember that HP is basically, like any fiction, supposed to have the reader identify with the character(s). And this one basically is so out-of-character that it completely ruins my immersion of identifying myself with HP or more likely Hermione, being a former know-it-all "or worse... EXPELLED" kinda pupil).

    @DVK Right, but this site isn't about pointing out plot holes. You've got to know that the answer is simply that it is a plot hole. Anyway, this is coming up a lot. I started something on meta about it: http://meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/q/467/51

    @DampeS8N - not necessarily. In widely popular universes that are somewhat logical, it's fairly often that a seemingly "plot whole" thing is ret-conned by the author with some sort of later explanation, or is even indirectly explained in the original work.

    Check out this article. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.251759-War-Wizards-vs-Muggles-A-Harry-Potter-Inspired-Thought-Exercise?page=11 . Just thought it might be interesting, given that this question is basically the same thing...

    "popular universes that are somewhat logical" I think that's a problem right there, magical realms - and I'd put HP near the top of this list - are rarely logical.

    @Binary “magical realms … are rarely logical” – but they don’t have to be. I immensely enjoyed Harry Potter but I’m nevertheless disappointed that JKR didn’t go the extra mile to make the universe at least *a bit* self-consistent.

    @Konrad: I agree wholeheartedly. It's about expectations. I would consider the milieu of a Hard Science work to be logically consistent, but would not expect that of a magical universe. Given that Star Trek is more logically consistent than Harry Potter, it's reasonable to expect an answer to "Why don't inertial forces squash crews on star ships when accelerating to warp?", where it is _not_ reasonable to ask "The mass of a person is far greater than that of an insect, where does the _remainder_ of Rita Skeeter go when she transforms into an insect?". Such questions are nonsensical IMHO

    Not an answer, but you may like to read this fanfiction. It is a "more rational approach" to the Harry Potter world and in it, Harry proposes to mix the best of Magic and Muggle worlds.

    @Pearsonartphoto: I think DVK means muggle-born wizards and witches, not the muggle populace. Like, why doesn't Hermione take the boys to a gun shop, Accio some guns, and strap them on for later use. I was actually thinking that during Harry's many fights with Voldemort-it'd be much simpler if, while Harry was having his big light-show green-red curse-tug-of-war, he just whipped out a gun with his left hand and ended it. I suspect it wouldn't look nearly as cool, which is the real reason guns aren't allowed in this world. However, for an in-universe explanation, I believe J.K. Rowling said tha

    There is a fundamental advantage to fighting with magic versus fighting with weapons: ammunition. Magic-users don't run out of spells (at least not in the Potterverse), can disable an opponent's entire suite of weapons at once, and unlike swords and knives, spells can still be used at a distance.

    Doesn't it say somewhere in the book that muggle tech doesn't work near magical interference??

    Well, other wizards would have used it as well. That is the kicker. Magic is something, power of which depends on the one who is operating it. Muggle weapons have fixed power. Anyone trained to use it, will use it like anyone trained to use it...

    @Thihara Electricity goes haywire. Traditional guns are mechanic, not electrical, and would work perfectly fine.

    Aren't gun wounds very easy to cure in the wizarding world? Only curses or magical creatures and artifacts can cause long-term damage.

    Just a guess, but we're mainly located in the UK, which has very extensive gun control.

    @Sidney - yep, I seem to recall a couple of existing answers mentioned that.

    It is interesting that Terry Pratchett played around with the problems of guns in magical stories with the invention of the “gonne” in _Men at Arms_ — in the end the invention gets lost,which suggests to me the conclusion that they just do not work.

    I would suggest a skilled magic-user (e.g. McGonagall/Snape), does the Accio Artillery Piece/Machine Gun/RPG/Tank/Fighter Aircraft/Ballistic Misslie/etc. and destroys those filthy Death Eaters.

    Old post, but guns *are* mentioned in The Prisoner of Azkaban: "*While Muggles have been told that Black is carrying a gun (a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other)...*"

    I can't answer the question due to the rep. I think that technology is based on science, and science based on math, which is just logic. Wizards can use logic too, so their magic and our technology are just different representations of the same thing. Sure they can adopt our technology, but after "researchers in magical world" discover its math behind, it can be used to create new better spells.

    'AND more likely than not most Death Eaters wouldn't recognize a Muggle gun for a threat (or realize what kind of threat) till too late.' Did a lot of good against Hagrid though didn't it, when Vernon tried to shoot him? And I can't see it bothering Voldemort... not with his Horcruxes. But you have to remember that they're trained in magic: they're not trained in weapons other than wands (and mental focus etc. e.g. wandless and silent casting).

    AGAIN with the guns vs magic. It never takes long for another person to pop up, absolutely amazed that these characters don't shoot little bits of metal propelled by small explosions, at dark wizards who literally perform MAGIC, exercising supernatural control over reality itself. I really hope JKR puts a guns vs magic scene into a Fantastic Beasts just to settle this nonsense.

  • KharoBangdo

    KharoBangdo Correct answer

    7 years ago

    A logical and acceptable in-universe explanation of why Harry, Hermione and the Order of the Phoenix don’t use Muggle technology, specifically guns and knives, is that they never attempt to kill, but only to incapacitate or capture Death Eaters. Refer to that restaurant scene in Deathly Hallows.
    The lowest common denominator of the HP series has been love. Even though many close to Harry are killed in each of the seven parts, Harry never uses a killing curse. Even at the end, during his duel with Voldemort, Harry only strikes to disarm. Even after going through this ordeal for 17 years, he just casts Expelliarmus. I know it would look bad-ass to whip out a gun with his left hand and shout “Dodge this!” with a smug face, but it wouldn’t go with HP’s theme of love. That is the best explanation of non-use of lethal Muggle weapons.

    Just to follow up some loopholes some might find in this answer, Harry casts Sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy without knowing its effect and is seen to be very regretful about what happens to Malfoy. I am almost certain that the only time a good wizard struck to kill was when Mrs. Weasley attacked Bellatrix at the end of Deathly Hallows. She deserved it though.

    Just to add another POV, many heroes in other works of fiction (such as Batman) don’t use guns, and guns – at least handguns – are rare in Britain.

    How does this answer account for taking someone's life in order to protect the ones you love? The other flaw to your logic is in thinking that the spells the OOTP and the "good" wizards use are less than lethal. Even a stun gun can kill.

    "Even though everyone close to Harry is killed in each of the seven parts," I must have read a very different set of books than you did.

    @Monty129 Nobody except Mrs. Weasley took anyone's life in order to protect her loved ones. I considered the actual happenings in HP & not what could have happened. If i go into imaginations then that wouldn't serve the purpose of SE no?. Yes, even a stun gun can kill but it is never used with the intention to kill. You can say Harry killed Voldy with Expelliarmus but it was never intended to. And why would u logically want to have non lethal muggle weapons when u have so many spells to decapitate somebody.

    @phantom42 I seems to have stretched it far. Not in each book. Sorry. Starting from 4th Cedrick(not close but he watches him die), 5th Sirius, 6th Dumbledoor 7th you know who

    @KharoBangdo and nothing even remotely close to "everyone close to Harry". Hurt? Yes. Killed? No.

    decapitate = cut off someone's head, captivate - to attract someone's attention totally, incapacitate - to stun someone or render them unconscious. I'm guessing but I think you mean the 3rd one.

    @LeeMeador Thanks. Not given a view after writing. Although captivate is correct i feel. It is a verb derived from captive no?

    Captivate is not used regarding the capture of of a person. It is in regard to capturing the attention so that another person listens to what you have to say or sing or perform or do. A captive is typically a person who has been captured and is being confined, perhaps in a jail or tied up.

    This is a superb answer for Harry, Ron & Hermione but doesn't address the wizarding world as a whole. Dumbledore would certainly have no use for guns in fighting the Death Eaters but the rest of the OotP, after their leader died, the question remains.

    Keep in mind, they actually did mention Sirius Black taking a gun in the POA. When Stan Shunpike is speaking to "Neville" about the papers, he mentions that Sirius was using a gun, according to the Muggle news.

    "muggles like Batman" :P

    @KharoBangdo - It may seem logical not to kill since the books are about love, but why not incapacitate the victim (Death Eaters in this scenario), a bullet to a knee or hand won't kill but surely tell someone what they can and can't do, especially taken by surprise. You wouldn't have a problem with Bellatrix if she had a bullet for each knee, let alone "lesser" Death Eaters. Sorry for the necro.

    @Anoplexian The ministry only told the muggles that Sirius Black was armed with a gun to ensure that they understood how dangerous he was. It's never stated that he was actually carrying one.

    “She deserved it though”. I think not! :P (Also, still here!)

    Did you remember the part where she talks about "justified anger" caused by her killing Sirius? That, Dumbledore's death and Carrow spitting on Minerva caused him to use Crucio but they all stemmed from the "justified anger" at seeing people him love hurt.

    If I remember correctly Harry was completely aware that he must kill Voldemort and even said it openly several times. So I'm not sure if this answer really explains why Muggle's lethal weapons weren't used by wizards. This is going to be a little bit gore but the idea of Voldemort with a big shotgun bullet hole in his head but still alive thanks to Horcruxes is interesting...

    “_Even though many_ (originally: **everyone**!) _close to Harry are killed in each of the seven parts_” — surely not _many_ and only from _The Goblet of Fire_ onwards. I am reluctant to modify the sense, but the most one can correctly say is _some … in … many_.

  • I believe, though I've been unable to find a reference, that JK Rowling actually mentioned this at one point.

    Part of the reason that the wizards hide is the fact that, if the Muggles so desired, the entire wizarding community could be wiped out by Muggle tech almost trivially. Shields, teleportation, telekinesis, etc would fare poorly against an enemy who doesn't have to have line of sight, or make fancy motions, or incant faux-latin phrases. If a special forces team had assaulted Hogwarts, instead of a group of Death Eaters, the castle would have been rubble and most of the population dead. (The special forces team would have suffered hideous casualties, of course, but only on egress)

    The wizards, at least those who make decisions and laws, know this. Everything about Hogwarts seems to be designed to separate wizards from Muggles, and muggle-borns from their roots. I wouldn't be surprised if there was an area-affecting spell around the castle that encouraged the students away from thinking about Muggle solutions (similar to the ones that make Muggles avoid areas).

    If one wizard had used an M60 to wipe out a group of Death Eaters, or even Big V himself (after he was rendered mortal, at least) wizards could not have failed to acknowledge this generally. It would create a panic. Suddenly, the Muggles, who most wizards seem to regard as half-blind, plodding simpletons, turn into a threat. The mightiest wizards couldn't stand up to Big V, but a single piece of Muggle-tech could trivially kill him? And there's BILLIONS of Muggles...it would terrify the wizarding population in a way Voldemort never could.

    The combination of damaging Muggle-tech with the wizarding world could only destroy the entire wizarding world, and their leadership knows it (or knew it at one point, and created laws such that the separation would continue).

    Thanks! +1... if you can remember any more specifics on what Rowling discussed that could be googleable I'd appreciate it gretaly

    Thinking further, the fear instilled in the wizards by this knowledge could tempt them to strike first - putting everyone at great risk. So it's much better for them to believe that muggles as "half-blind, plodding simpletons"

    @Jeff I disagree. Quite simply, we don't really know the extent of magic because it's "magic". If a spec forces team were to assault Hogwarts, given suitable preparation on the part of wizards, it would be trivial to render all their technology unusable. Like a spell to make all explosives harmless, all gunpowder wet etc. Basically, if spells work like programming (if this then do ), then a group of wizards with sufficient knowledge of the Muggle world could defeat an army. We already know that spells (like protection charms) can be passive, long-lasting and cast over an area

    @Jayraj: Yes, I agree, if the wizards prepared...which they weren't. Sadly, we don't see much in the way of contingency spells in HP - Voldemort's trap around the amulet being the most complicated one we know of.

    I think it's far more relevant to ask why wizards didn't have the equivalent of Google or some other search engine. I mean, it took Hermione _months_ in book 1 to find out who Nicolas Flamel was! In the Muggle world, the info'd be a quick Google search away. Ditto about Horcruxes (though to be fair, Voldy was researching them in the early 50s)

    A special forces team would never be able to get anywhere near Hogwarts. IIRC, it is protected by muggle repelling charms AND illusions. Plus, since it's unplottable, it would never appear on any map. All in all, I think Hogwarts is quite safe from Muggle intrusion.

    @Donald.McLean: The castle is Unplottable and has Muggle-Repelling charms and illusions, true. That said, my point stands: were it to be assaulted by a special forces team, it would be rubble, for all the reasons I gave. I didn't say it'd be easy for such an assault to happen.

    @Jeff My point is that there's no way for a muggle special forces team to FIND it. If they can't find it, they can't assault it. It does not matter whether or not they would be able to get past the other defenses. However, actually turning it into rubble would require more explosives than a special forces team would be able to carry - it's a really big place, and most of it is solid stone.

    Wizards may be vulnerable to muggle weapons. But Muggles are awfully vulnerable to more subtle uses of magic. Disguise spells and Imperius curses. Invisibility and Memory Charms. Wizards would be capable of having a special forces team ordered to take out their own leadership.

    I'm not entirely sure about the special forces team either. Without magical protection against mind-altering spells, they would be wiped off in minutes. Probably they would wipe off themselves. And it would take only a single wizard who knows the Imperius curse. Sure, if they had magical protection... but that's a different take. Wait, I've just noticed I'm saying quite the same thing as @ZanLynx.

    I think it is worth noting that while a muggle special forces team would likely fail in an assault on a sufficiently-prepared Hogwarts for the stated reasons, it seems likely that a group of death eaters armed with muggle technology would take the school trivially. This reinforces the question of "why didn't they just do that?"

    There is simply no argument against magic; who will order the nuclear strike, when wizards can teleport, shape-shift, go invisible, and then mind-control every president of the world if required. Simple control of the politicians and media is all they need. They are already successfully monitoring the prime minister in the books. And even if the war broke out, how are you going to find wizards who are dispersed among mugless and are using *magic*.

    **Just as an interesting aside:** In Harry Potter and the Natural 20 (a D&D/HP cross-over fan fiction) there is, I think, a fairly accurate fight between Death Eaters and a Muggle British Armed Response Unit (_almost_ Special Forces). It goes pretty much as you'd expect, with both sides not entirely sure what the other is capable of. **Spoilers** The Muggles come off pretty badly in the end since the Death Eaters seem to be expecting them but they do still manage to do some damage. The actual fight can be found at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8096183/53/Harry-Potter-and-the-Natural-20

    @Tommy: Yeah, I've read it. It's a pretty good example of a fight where the Muggles go in mostly blind and get ambushed. The Death Eaters were absolutely setting them up, and they got taken down *hard*.

    @Jeff I can't remember whether it's explained _how_ the Death Eaters know they're coming but presumably any Special Forces unit would face the same problem at Hogwarts - Muggle detection charm(s) perhaps? I assume McGonagall and the other teachers would be a little more forgiving and much less deadly though.

    when people say mages can easily kill any muggle no sweat because "they can instantly teleport anywhere, turn invisible and instantly kill anyone with no protection available and mind control whole armies at once" my first thought is "OK so why didn't they just do that to voldemort?" we never see anyone in the books being this OP. war is more about intelligence, knowing where your enemy is and when/where to strike. I think the biggest advantage of the mages is that they know of the muggle world, but not the other way around. they have the element of surprise and would probably win via guerilla

    My understanding of this is that a confrontation between the wizarding and muggle world would be catastrophic for both sides (in the scale of the World Wars), so the wizarding community decided to hide away to avoid it. If I'm not mistaken (though I can't find the references), many in the wizarding world, particularly those aligned with the wizard-supremacist way of thinking, begrudged this decision as they were convinced they'd have won in an open conflict and would've subdued the muggles. So I guess had Voldemort won, a muggle-wizard war would've broken out. That'd be a cool what-if scenario

    I'd also like to point out that many people don't have an accurate idea of just how scarily effective military gear is. For example, a high-powered sniper rifle would catch anyone off guard, as the supersonic bullet, fired from kms away, would hit the target before even the shot's sound reaches them, and pretty much turn them into red mist. Perception of such gear is simplified by media because realistic combat is no fun to watch. I'm guessing that had J.K.Rowling wanted to portray realistic muggle tech, she'd have made the magical world capable of matching it, as it clearly was her intent.

    I disagree, one thing wizards in harry potter are good at is staying hidden. They manage to hide castles, lakes, stadiums and a whole town from muggles and all our high-tech tools such as satellites and so on. Muggles will never find wizards

    The only question I have after reading this is: "why would they not refer to V*****rt as 'Big V' in the novels?"

  • A couple of reasons spring to mind.

    • Firstly, and most obviously, guns (as well as modern "Muggle" technologies like mobile phones and the Internet) just don't feature at all, because they're not relevant to the wizard-related part of the story. It would have totally ruined the immersion IMO if Ron had pulled out a Blackberry, or if Dudley had pulled out an M-16. It was a story about wizards, not a story about wizards vs Muggles, and I think completely ignoring most Muggle technologies is excusable from that point of view.

    • Another thing worth bearing in mind, is that the series is set in the UK. Guns, gun crime and shootings are FAR less common here in the UK, compared with the US. We had two massive headline gun incidents in the UK in 2010, and that was crazily unusual. It does become a small plot hole, but as a British reader reading stories set in Britain, I honestly didn't miss mentions of guns in the series.

    If you tried nuking them, they would just disapparate, while the humans wouldn't be able to run ;-)

    +1: "It would have totally ruined the immersion". You can _guess_ why JKR didn't include modern weapons but really, this is the only acceptable answer. There is - and can be - no "in universe" answer to this question (IMHO, obviously).

    Actually the fact that the UK is not known for the average populace having immediate access to a handgun was my first thought ....

    Exactly what I was going to say about the UK and gun culture! +1 And since the stories are set in the 90s, there are no Blackberries anyway!

    Agreed. In the UK, you can't just walk into a shop and buy a gun, even if you're already past 18 years old (like Hermione in most of the Deathly Hallows).

    The general populace having access to guns and the standing army that would be facing off against the wizard threat are two very different things.

    Actually, guns do feature, though. Uncle Vernon brings a rifle with him, to the seaside shed where Hagrid picks up Harry at his 11th birthday.

    Why would Ron have a Blackberry?

    Not all wizards are in the UK however. Only most of the ones in the series. In GoF, there's a whole contingent of Russian wizards (and French, but that's less relevant), and they'd presumably have much easier access to guns. (Actually odd that no non-British wizards were involved in the fight against Voldemort. Surely he'd be a threat to all of them, not just the ones in the UK...)

    Actually gun crime rose drastically in the UK since the guns were banned, so yes, it is not popular for a normal citizen to have guns, but general gun violence is high, and the UK ranks 1st in violent crime amongst all western countries

    @leftaroundabout Also, in book 3, the Muggle news claims that Sirius Black wields a gun.

    @Quincunx As far as I understand, that was just to scare the muggles, and to convince them of Black's dangerousity.

    @Illidanek: you can say that violent crime is high in the UK (there is definitely a knife problem), but saying that GUN crume is high in the UK is something that I have never seen any actual evidence for.

    @leftaroundabout but that's the perfect example of where guns are much more realistically likely to appear in Rowling's Britain: a rifle in the hands of a mildly deranged but normally functioning muggle.

    If Ron had pulled out a BLackberry in the early 90s, I definitely would have called foul. But not because he was a wizard.

  • In order for Muggles to use weapons, a number of things would have to happen.

    1. The Muggles would have to actually understand that there is a threat going on, which I don't think they really do.
    2. The wizard would have to be caught unaware, so as to not cast any kind of a charm, or disapparate, when said bullets were fired.
    3. The Death Eaters would have to stay in the area long enough for someone with a gun to arrive.
    4. This encounter would need to occur in an area where there isn't an anti-Muggle charm. Muggle technology doesn't function around Hogwarts, for instance, and I'm sure that there are other areas that have similar protection.
    5. Most Muggle technology (Ie, guns), could be stopped with minimal effort, if you could only reach into the right spot. I imagine a wizard could easily make the gun backfire, if they had any inklings to do so.

    As for a wizard using a gun:

    1. They would have to figure out how to accurately use the guns. You can't just take up a gun and shoot it. You need to have some serious work to hit the right point.
    2. They would have to seriously sneak up on the enemy. That takes even more skill
    3. I suspect that if a wizard wanted to, they could just take a rock and accelerate it fast enough to simulate a bullet, without too much energy being used.
    4. If a wizard had all 3 of the skills above (Or really only 2), they could just as easily kill them using magic. So why bother with the Muggle technology?

    I do believe that the wizards don't care much about the Muggle world, they don't seem to mind controlling portions of it. I mean, if the army ever found out, they could probably kill some of them, but I imagine it's more of an annoyance thing than anything else. As it stands now, they could get away with almost anything.

    @Pearsonartphoto - Unrelated question: Is disapperating not an effective enough defense against wizard spells? I guess we see that in the film, but it seems like wizards spells travel at close to the same speed as bullets.

    @Mark: It is quite effective. It seems like in a wizard duel, the only way to win is to either be the first one to strike, or make the last mistake, or overwhelm the enemy with some powerful magic. You know, that might make an interesting question in and of itself...

    @Pearsonartphoto - I envisioned a somewhat different scenario (unexpected use of guns in battle for Hogwarts, for example). That would make your points 2,3,5 from first list and 2 from second list inapplicable. #3 from the second list seems false from what I recall of books/movies - the only one who was throwing stuff around at high speed was Voldermort when battling Dumbledore, so it appears to be an uncommon skill, so I am guessing #4 doesn't apply to apprentice wizards like Harry/Hermione.

    @Pearsonartphoto - #1 from the second list is also inapplicable in my proposed scenario - OoP members would have a LOT of time to practice with guns before the decisive battle.

    @Pearsonartphoto - Now, #4 I actually find **very intriguing** ("Muggle technology doesn't function around Hogwarts") - is there a specific mention of that in the books/movies? That point alone might actually answer my question.

    @DVK: Yes, there is. I can't find the book reference now, but here's a few from the web. http://www.cosforums.com/archive/index.php/t-124743.html http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Hogwarts,_A_History

    Regarding #4, In the Goblet of Fire, Harry mention 'Bugging' (electronic eavesdropping) in regards to Rita Skeeter. IIRC Hermione states that electricity doesn't work in areas of high magic, such as Hogwarts. Whether this would affect the mechanical workings of a gun I don't know.

    The problem with these arguments is the major advantage of gun vs wand: speed. Spells need time to be cast, and even after being cast, they are not very quick (attack spells travel slow enough in the air that other wizards can dodge them or cast counter-spells). If you pull the trigger of a gun, the bullet will travel above the speed of sound, so you don't need to catch a wizard really unaware. It's the reverse: a wizard has to be very prepared and stealthy before starting a fight against firearms.

    @DVK: It's in Chapter 28 of GOF. Hermione says "All those substitutes for magic Muggles use - electricity, computers, and radar, and all those things - they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there's too much magic in the air."

    @HendrikVogt - a shotgun or an assault rifle does not depend on any of "those things". And plenty of fighting happens outside of Hogwarts

    @DVK: That's clear, I just wanted to point out the precise reference.

    +1 for the point about technology not working around Hogwarts. To me, that's the core idea: muggle technology is easy for wizards to deactivate or render useless. Case closed. As for guns, do we really want to consider the ramifications of a spell nullifying gun powder? Not the chemistry, but what it means to actually discuss it. I just don't want to have that conversation.

    `They would have to seriously sneak up on the enemy.` Depends on the gun.

    #2, how would they disappear? Does every wizard now have an invisibility cloak, or a way to teleport outside of the fireplace gate spells?

    Learning to use a firearm doesn't take serious training. Give me an hour and I can have someone shooting decent shots. Rifle, scope, distance, target. Game over

    Speaking as a firearms instructor give me someone in their teens or older and of average intelligence and I could have them placing some pretty well aimed shots fairly quickly. Especially when talking about a rifle

    In 2nd book Colin Creevey was using an old-fashioned muggle camera to take photos at Hogwarts. So, not all muggle tech stops working in Hogwarts.

    Teaching to use a firearm properly is something that can be quickly done on masses of people regardless of their ability; recruit-based militaries do that all the time and it takes less training effort than Dumbledores Army invested in other things. Why'd wizard use a gun? Wizard combat is deadly and speed based - who hits first, wins; who gets a hit quicker than enemy casts a counterspell, wins; and it simply is quicker to shoot someone than to say AvadaKedavra. And of course, the wands seem to be restricted to small range and having line of sight; suggesting sniper rifles and mortars.

    @Pasha S: To take the magical sort of photographs (moving, partly interactive); this specific situation seems to be enchanted items which were originally muggle tech (e.g. the Weasley Ford Anglia) rather than actually using muggle technology.

    What this does leave out is -- why wouldn't a wizard enchant a gun?

    @PearsonArtPhoto Point #1 in your 'wizard using a gun' list kind of bugs me. The first time I ever shot a .22-caliber rifle, I hit the targets spot-on with very few misses. I can imagine that for someone who has never heard of guns, seen them used, etc, it would be more difficult. I have played a lot of Halo (a FPS game) in my day, though.

    @HendrikVogt with all that magic in the air, it's just as well that at least some electrical systems remain operational. Like human nervous systems! And what about those little electric fields that hold pretty much everything together?

  • I think that the British cultural aversion to guns would apply in this case. In the US, most people can go into a store and purchase a gun and walk out with it that day. In Britain, one has to go through a lot more effort to legally obtain one, and the general preception towards gun owners in Britain is a lot more negative. Generally, British movies don't portray as much gun violence as American movies do, so the typical person "over there" won't tend to think as much about using guns (even if they were as readily available).

    In the US there is a waiting period unless you are at a gun show, which you need to already have had your background check done before buying. As for guns in England, it would be the government that would attack the wizards I would think, not some random hoodlums.

    @JMD The waiting period is only there in certain states.

    As the question refers to muggle-born wizards, it would be trivial to go into a gun store and walk out with it that same day, with the merchant believing that all the legalities are satisfied.

    _British cultural aversion to guns_. Outside the US, it's pretty much a _Global cultural aversion to guns_

    I was trying to scroll down for this comment; I was thinking the same thing: Harry Potter is set in England, where it's almost impossible to obtain a gun.

    I'm pretty sure a wizard would have no issues raiding a gun warehouse and stealing anything they want from the British army.

    @MikasaPinata It really isn't. Nearly every farmer owns a rifle no matter where in the world you are. Access to handguns and access to guns without a good reason is what is restricted.

    @Daft That's not entirely true. In certain places in the middle east it is not terribly uncommon for non-combatants to carry assault rifles around with them on a daily basis. Also, when visiting Switzerland, I can tell you from experience that the police officers there are far more well-armed than any standard patrol unit in the U.S.

    @Dan That's ironic about the Swiss.

  • First, it is explicitly stated that electronics don't work in areas with a lot of magic around. It helps explain why the wizards don't have the best of both worlds. Most of the gadgets Muggles would use in combat, from radios to nightvision, and even some weapons, would be rendered useless simply by there being so much magic around.

    Second, it's implied in the books and outright shown in the movies that magic can manipulate Muggle devices, and Muggles themselves; Tom the bartender at the Leaky Cauldron silences a car alarm with a wave of his wand and some unknown nonverbal spell. If Alohomora can unlock a door that isn't magically sealed, then Locomotor could manipulate the action of a weapon, to jam it, make it backfire, or even stop the bullet in midair and redirect it to the shooter. Protego is a shield against most minor magical and physical attack, probably including bullets. Obliviate is not a slow spell to cast, even verbally. Neither is Stupefy or Sectumsempra. All three can render a Muggle combatant completely unable or unwilling to fight. Disillusionment can render a person invisible to all but the closest observer; Dumbledore can cast such a good one it rivals an invisibility cloak, and yes, wizards have those too. The Unforgivables could turn Muggle gunmen against each other or have them writhing on the ground in unspeakable agony, and yes, even kill them outright. If you think a Special Forces team would have any chance assaulting Hogwarts, you're sorely underestimating the weapons and defenses available to even a lone wizard; no wizard would even bother going toe-to-toe with a Muggle assailant.

    Third, remember Muggles think magic is a complete fantasy. That's magic's greatest power against Muggles; we don't believe it. It's not explained in the prelude to Book 6 exactly how the Death Eaters destroy the bridge; in the movie of course it's a spectacle, but even then the Muggles might just have seen puffs of black smoke. Discounting magic as impossible, the Muggles would have instead come up with any other explanation they could, however implausible, because any other explanation would have been more plausible than to say it was "magic".

    #1: Most firearms have 0 electrical parts up till the very latest advanced stuff in the last 20-30 years. So your #1 doesn't apply, sorry. #2 - the gist of the question wasn't muggles attacking DEs, it was the Good Guy wizards using muggle weapons. You can majic the bullets to be unturnable or invisible or whatever, too. The point is there's a VAST difference between "magic-throwing" a stone at someone and firing a bullet (for a different genre's trope, see "Dodge THIS!". #3 is also not relevant to the question of why HP doesn't use guns. I wasn't asking why Muggles don't fight DEs.

    A sniper rifle, such as used by Special Forces would allow the shooter to stay out of spellcasting range and hidden. A purely optical scope with no electronics wouldn't be affected by the magic. Then there's the fact that you could probably charm the rifle to be self-cleaning and self-lubricating. Maybe you could even have a magazine that conjured bullets. So what if they didn't last. They'd last long enough to kill. (I should note that the fanfic: Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Future Past by S'TarKan is the source of this ideal - it features a Glock 19 with those same charms on it.)

    *Alohomora* is a great example.

    Mechanical and mecha-chemical technology such as clockworks, cars, and cameras demonstrably operates perfectly well close to, or even in wizard hands. Also consider that nature works in a reciprocal way. If magic is able to disable electric devices, an electromagnetic pulse would likely be able to disable magic in a similar or the same way and EMP-hardening techniques which are used on military electronic equipment would likely protect against "magical interference" as well. Other than "immersion" there is no logical explanation. At least one wizard used a knife for a kill. Surprise.

    There would be a severe asymmetry in the number of combatants, however.

    A scope isn't really necessary at all, either. The US military has documented instances of iron-sight (no scope) kills at 1000 meters and more.

  • (I think I've read all the answers and most of the comments, yet... Sorry if I'm duplicating anyone.)

    Let's consider the question and its implications historically. Guns have been around for ages. However, magic and wizards have been around for way longer (remember, Hogwarts was founded around the 9-10th century.)

    It is quite logical and safe to assume that any time in history, there were at least a few wizards (if not dedicated organizations) following the developments of the Muggle world rather closely, checking technological advancement and developing appropriate magical countermeasures for any possible threats. We can certainly also assume that such wizards were aware of the development and gradual refinement and empowerment of guns - and from modern day wizards' apparent non-reliance on guns, it seems to follow rather logically that they were highly successful in developing a countermeasure. So successful, in fact, that no wizard even thinks about using guns or minions armed with guns.

    As for what these anti-gun measures are, we can only guess, besides acknowledging their utter effectiveness. Maybe there's an "anti-gun" spell cast on any and all newly born wizards. Maybe there are area-protecting spells cast on most locations frequented by wizards. Maybe if you pull the trigger aimed at a wizard (or even a magical creature), your weapon backfires automatically. Maybe all the ammo in your weapon detonates, right in your hands. Maybe your gunpowder is exchanged for flour. Or dust. Who knows? What matters is that generations of wizards have grown up and learned not to give a damn about guns. Guns are not a threat to a wizard.

    Also, sure there are spells protecting against projectiles, and there are attacks with projectiles. But... (and here's a question in my answer) ...are there any occasions on which the projectiles are not driven by magic, or launched by magical creatures, that is, on a higher level of abstraction, magic? (Pulling a trigger does not count as a magical launch, the bullet is driven by the blast, not the muscle power involved.)

    Hm. Entirely non-canon, but pretty logical and plausible. +1

    I remember a protagonist reading from a book by a wizard author: a witch burnt at the stake can prevent actual harm but pretends to scream in pain nevertheless. So wizard-muggle conflicts used to be a threat, one that was dealt with effectively.

    Portable firearms were used in 13th century, but I guess they were not used for "police" work (vs military work). So wizards had to counter other threats like capture and torture

    This is the only answer that is actually plausible, despite being conjecture. The good wizards don't use guns or other technology against the Death Eaters because it is completely ineffective against magical entities like wizards. In the HP world, muggles use technology *because they don't have magic*, the implication being that if you do have magic then technology becomes redundant.

    I'm not sure I buy this explanation. The Ministry of Magic is terrified of the muggle world finding out about the wizarding world. If wizards were immune to our most effective weapons then the "bad guy" anti-muggle wizards would just have taken over the world by now.

  • After crunching through the series (finally) I couldn't help but wonder this. I mean, sure the Ministry of Magic (MoM from now on... seriously?) hides both sides from another (or tries it's best) and there is the effect of "muggles not seeing what the other things are doing" Not explained, but alright.

    Muggle tech is missing because, well: it'd break the lore. Completely. Why bother with avoiding and fighting the Death Eaters up close with yelling stuff and pointing sticks when you could be half a click away, love-tap 10 bad guys in the head inside a minute (considering how tightly they group and lack of common sense in vicinity of danger magical people seem to possess). As one said before: usually bullets are supersonic. You FEEL them before you hear them. And feeling a bullet is usually bad. And then again, this is about magic and the magical story of Mr. Potter, not Sergeant Potter.

    But, to go off the track a lot more because I think it's more interesting. Lets say the muggle governments, aware of magic and the possible dangers it poses. I mean, just snatch a random hoodlum or a very spirited and talkative student off Diagon Alley and get the intel. Or simply hire/recruit one or two disgruntled squibs (there has got to be a few of those around). You could get all sorts of intel. The threat of big V alone would warrant the creation and training of at least a platoon (30-40 people) sized force specially trained to combat magical threats. Think FEAR operatives. Even a company sized (330-400 people) force isn't too out of whack. And they don't have to be muggle only. Adaptable is one thing we are, and I bet one schooled wizard per squad would be a must. There are magic users who think highly of muggles. So wizards who think more of muggles then magic users might not be common but I can bet they are there, and one thing governments are good at is finding these "undesirables". You don't even have to be negative about fellow wizards. Outcome? Think all the offensive and defensive spells wizards have, now add in firearms and muggle tactical combat training. Charm firearms to never run out of ammunition, be resistant (or even immune) to negative manipulation, or have other effects (armor piercing toxic explosive incendiary rounds, anyone?). hell give a week and one of those guys could probably whip up the gun from Supernaturals, except this one is a damn machinegun that never runs out of ammo, never jams, can fire under water and in space, never misses its mark and weighs about as much as a brick (any lighter and it'll probably become difficult then better to handle). And about muggle tech not working at all. Electrical stuff? Yes, I can buy that. But mechanical? No. Just. No. If a simple thing such as the cocking mechanism inside a firearm won't work, the hinges on the side of a chessboard would not work either. As for gunpowder? You got three times more complex and volatile chemicals going off in Hogwards on an hourly basis.

    So to cap it all up: As a science fiction TV writer once said (kinda): "Just don't look at it too much. Accept that this is how it works." There is no proper in-lore explanation to why the wizards won't use muggle tech other than: "Just because they are prejudiced nitwits. And it would completely break everything." They don't know how it works because they never have to wonder about it. The concepts are alien to them because they live in an entire different universe. As for people like Hermione not figuring it out? She's been living in the same environment since she was, what 10? And her head being a veritable encyclopedia of various spells, potions and other know-what, I doubt there's much room for things like infantry tactics, electronic based communication networks and military grade combat equipment. I doubt that she (or anyone like her) would come in contact with these things or concepts in a day-to-day basis. And those that do probably don't care about the wizardly world. Even most muggles don't come in contact with these outside of computer games. And since wizards seem to be oblivious to the existence of computers... You catch my drift. This is the bane of every fantasy story in existence. They can never, ever live up to complete scrutiny of the "Why?" and "Why not?" questions.

    Why no muggle tech? Just because.

    I could also imagine, in this case, an intense biological study of captive or volunteer wizards, dissection of dead wizards, and soon muggles would know the interior working of the magic system better then the wizards themselves. Then muggles would soon be able to artificially produce magic, after figuring out the genetic differences between them and the wizards. I think we can safely assume than magic in the HP universe is arcane and not divine, (so it's not actively provided and maintained by a sentient and intelligent being), and in this case it can be studied and reproduced.

    In my daydreams, I imagine that muggles might discover that magic is electromagnetic and on different frequencies. Perhaps that's why muggle electronics fail at Hogwarts. Conversely, a couple of generators could generate magic-jamming fields. And perhaps certain materials are anti-magical: weave them into the soldiers' suits, weapons, and bullets, and game over.

  • Remember that highly-magical places, like Hogwarts, disable "technology" (Hermione mentioned that in... the fourth book I believe). Of course, guns are not electrical monsters, but I guess they just fell in the realm of "technology" anyway.

    law of physics and chemistry looked working alright. what makes firearms, crossbows, harpoons and many more weapons work.

    I think a nuke would still be effective ...

    Mechanically speaking, a gun is nothing more than a lever and a spring. The numerous door locks inside Hogwarts represent more advanced mechanical technology than a gun does. Even if a gun were considered muggle technology, it could be bewitched in the same way Arthur's Ford or Molly's knitting needles were.

    @BalogPal, but they could be working by some entirely unrelated magical force that only by coincidence resembles the workings of Muggle physics and chemistry as we know them....

  • Also, I would note wizards seem, on some fundamental level, to be unable to comprehend technology, just as Muggles seem unable to comprehend magic.

    Example 1 - Arthur Weasley, a man whose job was to prevent misuse by wizards of items created by Muggles, seems, thought the books, to be completely unable to understand how such items work--even though he's presumably been dealing with them for years, he can't even give the right names or terms. Examples--the Car in "Chamber of Secrets", the Dursley's living room in "Goblet of Fire", and his lack of understanding of the term for plumbers in (I think) "Order of the Phoenix".

    Example 2--Kingsley Shacklebolt, in "Order of the Phoenix" was seen examining a dishwasher as if this was entirely new concept--and Kingsley was (1) smart, and (2) actually interacted with Muggles on a regular basis as part of the staff of the Prime Minister.

    Examples 3 and 4 - In the same scene in "Order of the Phoenix" Sturgis Podmore also was fascinated by the dishwasher, and Hestia Jones was seen giggling over a potato peeler--which is about the most self explanatory tool ever. Example 5--Daedelus Diggle,in "Order of the Phoenix" tells Mr. Dursley he felt he would be completely incapable of driving a car. Example 6--Ron has to use magic to pass his driving test in the epilogue to "Deathly Hallows" despite living with Hermione for more than a decade.

    Coupled with the face technology didn't work at Hogwarts, and the possibility that this was true in other areas with high magical concentrations--such a wizarding villages--I suspect a wizard with a gun would be more dangerous to himself than to an opponent. This would also apply to eleven year olds raised in the muggle world like Lily Evans (Potter), Hermione, and Harry--immersed in the wizarding world, it appears that as they develop as wizards, they lose interest in the muggle world. I think, at 20, Harry would be fully capable of disposing of dark creatures by the truckload as an Auror, but likely baffled by cellphone. It may be that a mind trained to use magic simply cannot understand tech, and vice versa, no matter how intelligent - which, if true, solves the problem neatly, with only a few dangling issues.

    It's a very well thought out answer, but my question was very specifically narrowed down to "**Muggle-born OotP**" - who would not be limited by not knowing about muggle technology.

    The Daily Prophet article that Harry reads near the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban takes the time out to explain to the (presumably Wizarding) reader what a firearm is, and gives only the most rudimentary facts about it. That indicates that the average British wizard doesn't know squat about firearms.

    +1 - was what I was thinking. Wizards seem to sacrifice their ability to understand muggle tech and culture as they learn magic. Even genius Hermions was stuck on something as simple as money/food, resorting to theft at points. She could have just gotten a ~thousand bucks from her *dentist* parents before she mind-wiped them (dentist = decent money in most places). "Oh, but how would she think to..." - rubbish. Money is the most basic and essential preparation for any modern venture - even a 6-year old running away from home knows they need money.

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