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).

    But:

    • 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_.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM