Is this JK Rowling quote apocryphal?
June 11, 2015 1:41 AM   Subscribe

In internet discussions about guns and magic, invariably someone will mention that Rowling said that a wizard will lose to a man with a shotgun. Did she?

As far as I can tell, this supposed statement is never sourced, at best they mention that it was said in an interview by her at some point. Did someone just make this up?
posted by Cannon Fodder to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I would think someone must have just made that up.

Between protego, impervious, and all the other shielding/protective charms, I don't know that a bullet would pose a huge threat to a wizard. And even if they did get hit, wizards are really good at healing things. The only incurable injuries are ones caused by curses. I don't think a bullet wound would cause much threat, especially when you can just apparate to St Mungo's and not have to wait for an ambulance. And even then, what about that little blood re-sucking/wound closing thing Snape did to Draco in the bathroom? That seems like it would be pretty helpful for a gunshot wound. Wizards can survive getting splinched, I think they can survive getting shot. I think the only time guns are mentioned in the books are that they're a sort of wand that muggles use to kill each other, which supports the theory that they don't kill wizards.

And then you have Rowling herself, who is pretty liberal. I just don't see her ever putting guns on some power pedestal, able to defeat magic so easily. So, unable to submit any actual proof, and conceding that you can't really prove a negative anyway, I have to say that I'd have a pretty hard time believing this is something that she'd say. It's just really out of character.
posted by phunniemee at 2:14 AM on June 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

Well, I tend to doubt it, but I can potentially see her saying it by way of critiquing the smugness of the wizarding world. You know, that they're so full of themselves and cut off from muggle culture that they don't even see muggles as a threat, when in fact wizards and witches are far more vulnerable than they'd ever guess. If she said it, I certainly wouldn't take it as a pro-gun statement! If people are taking it that way, they're just hearing what they want to hear.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:33 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the quote would have come up in this stackexchange discussion of what if there were firearms in Harry Potter.

I think Lincoln some urban fantasist said it first.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:02 AM on June 11, 2015

Yeah, it's a bit from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files (not sure which book as it comes up a few times). There is an assassin the narrator acknowledges could kill him at any instant, although via a sniper rifle. Basically, it comes down to "get the drop on wizard, wizard dies" and "outlast wizard, wizard dies" as the two main ways to kill a being that can warp reality through strength of will.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:48 AM on June 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Which is all just an update from Brust (and likely many before him on various forms) 'No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style.'
posted by edgeways at 5:54 AM on June 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can easily kill a Tara with a gun, if you're really aiming at a Buffy. But you run the risk of creating a Dark Willow.
posted by Devoidoid at 6:34 AM on June 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

It's probably made up, taken from a video I saw years ago somewhere. I don't remember the details, but there was a fight between a wizard (could have been Dumbledore, Gandalf, or maybe a generic wizard) and some other guy. The wizard talked about how powerful he was, how he was going to destroy the other guy, maybe summoned some flames on his hands to show it, and as he was about to cast a spell on his opponent, the other guy just pulled out a shotgun and killed him.

It was a lot like that scene from Indiana Jones.
posted by Promethea at 6:40 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's definitely from the Dresden Files. There are several moments in the series where the guns > magic subject comes up. As a matter of fact, it's one of Dresden's favorite moves. Someone challenges him with magic, he pulls out his revolver, and they either let him leave or get shot.
posted by domo at 7:00 AM on June 11, 2015

Don't know about the specific quote, but the trope has been around at least since Bakshi's Wizards.
posted by nedpwolf at 8:02 AM on June 11, 2015

I am not familiar with the authenticity of the specific quote, but it is made quite clear throughout the canon that wizard secrecy is kept because Muggles would otherwise squash them like bugs. (I'm aware of Haggard's comment to Harry that the secrecy is so wizards won't have to "solve Muggle problems" - this was the statement of an adult to a child, and the adult was not probably not politically or historically astute in this regard). There's an in-universe explanation.

Wizards obviously can be harmed by physical trauma, as seen in the numerous patients of Hogwart's Hospital Wing who had broken noses and cracked skulls from falls of brooms or down stairs, kicks, and bludgers.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2015

Robocop is referring to the recurring assassin Kincaid, I believe. The discussion is likely from Death Masks.

And I believe that they briefly discuss guns when Dresden is getting shot at by another assassin, the Tigress, in Summer Knight.

Didn't a (shot?) gun show up in both Potter books and movies, in the hands of a groundskeeper for some creepy mansion? I'm much less clear on my HP than Dresden Files.
posted by Jacen at 2:32 PM on June 11, 2015

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