gulliver's travels gun control

Gulliver and America's gun nuts share a common ideology

Gun control has become one of the most divisive issues in politics. At times, what we are debating over seems to make no sense, because with all honesty, there shouldn’t even be a debate. After Sandy Hook, after Aurora, after Orlando, the answer seems simple enough. Ban civilian styled assault rifles. Less mass shootings. No more society living in fear of the next tragedy.

And in this moment of insanity, where gun rights advocates call themselves the new civil rights leaders, and pro-gun control congressman have to sit down and protest to get meaningful gun legislation, Johnathan Swift’s satire on humanity, “Gulliver’s Travels”, seems to remind us of the utter malicious purpose behind firearms.

Gulliver, the main character, ends up shipwrecked in Brobdingnag, a land of giants. Gulliver through his intelligence and cleverness, finds grace in the eyes of the King, and is treated well. In gratitude, Gulliver decides to tell the King about “an invention, discovered between three and four hundred years ago, to make a certain powder…that a proper quantity of this powder rammed into a hollow tube of brass or iron…would drive a ball of iron or lead, with such violence and speed, as nothing was able to sustain its force”.

Gulliver goes on to talk about the effective and destructive power of firearms, describing in raw detail how firearms can “destroy whole ranks of an army at once… sink down ships with a thousand men in each… divide hundred of bodies in the middle…rip up the pavements, tear the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, dashing out the brains of all who came near.”

As a reader, you can’t help but imagine the utter carnage and imagery that Gulliver is describing. Human bodies flying all over and being torn apart as if they were parasites. Entire cities destroyed. You can’t help but sense that Gulliver lacks sensibility regarding the destruction that is caused by fire arms. Desolating carnage seems to be the norm in Gulliver’s mind. As you’re reading the passage, Gulliver is actually bragging about the destructive effect of firearms.

In all reality, this passage seems to describe every ardent conservative gun nut. Gun advocates get behind their guns and hold them up as symbols of freedom, self defense, and the fight against tyranny. In the process, they forget about the true purpose of firearms, and end up praising a weapon that was meant for death.

Going back to “Gulliver’s Travels”, the King of the Brobdingnagians responds with utter disgust, as he declares that guns are of “some evil genius, enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver” and forbids Gulliver from ever mentioning the weapon again.

If the King Of Brobdingnag was real, I wonder what he would say about the United States today.

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Mark graduated from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a BA in Political Science (2015). Writing interests include human/civil rights, working class issues, and reviewing books/films that concentrate on social issues.

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