356

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

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    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 Mar 23 '11 at 11:28
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    @DampeS8n - I was going more for Trinity's "Dodge THIS" line in my head :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 23 '11 at 13:09
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    @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-on-Ahch-To Mar 23 '11 at 13:09
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    I cannot recommend "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" strongly enough. – Beta Jul 27 '13 at 4:03
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    Just a guess, but we're mainly located in the UK, which has very extensive gun control. – Sidney Jan 18 '16 at 16:49

31 Answers 31

159

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.

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    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. – Monty129 Jul 25 '13 at 12:22
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    @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. – KharoBangdo Jul 26 '13 at 5:11
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    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. – Lee Meador Sep 3 '13 at 22:20
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    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. – Lee Meador Sep 4 '13 at 18:04
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    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. – Captain P Feb 25 '15 at 23:59
221

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).

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    @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 <SOME MAGIC>), 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 – Jay Apr 2 '12 at 22:05
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    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 Feb 6 '13 at 15:32
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    @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. – Donald.McLean Feb 7 '13 at 14:24
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    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. – Zan Lynx Jun 8 '13 at 2:40
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    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?" – Dave Jan 27 '14 at 17:16
173

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.

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    +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). – user296 Mar 23 '11 at 10:21
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    Actually the fact that the UK is not known for the average populace having immediate access to a handgun was my first thought .... – jcolebrand Apr 29 '11 at 23:28
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    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! – David Roberts Aug 19 '11 at 1:49
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    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. – leftaroundabout Jun 18 '13 at 21:10
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    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...) – Darrel Hoffman Jan 9 '14 at 23:07
62

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.

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    @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-on-Ahch-To Mar 23 '11 at 15:41
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    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. – thing2k Jun 13 '11 at 11:42
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    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. – vsz Dec 29 '11 at 21:59
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    @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." – Hendrik Vogt Feb 25 '12 at 9:18
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    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. – Pasha Aug 26 '13 at 22:49
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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).

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    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 Jul 12 '12 at 19:59
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    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. – Peteris Mar 10 '14 at 14:49
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    British cultural aversion to guns. Outside the US, it's pretty much a Global cultural aversion to guns – Daft Jan 30 '15 at 17:11
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    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. – Mikasa Nov 28 '15 at 13:01
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    @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 Jul 6 '17 at 14:02
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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".

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    #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. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 20 '11 at 12:45
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    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.) – pleurocoelus Jan 23 '14 at 13:06
  • Alohomora is a great example. – starsplusplus Feb 14 '14 at 16:42
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    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. – Damon Jul 1 '14 at 10:44
  • There would be a severe asymmetry in the number of combatants, however. – Brian Gordon Feb 26 '15 at 20:18
45

(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.)

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    Hm. Entirely non-canon, but pretty logical and plausible. +1 – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 26 '13 at 13:08
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    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. – Jesvin Jose Feb 26 '14 at 14:11
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    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 – Jesvin Jose Feb 26 '14 at 14:20
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    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. – user22478 Dec 9 '15 at 2:52
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    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. – Brian Gordon Nov 20 '18 at 2:39
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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.

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    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. – vsz Mar 8 '13 at 20:41
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    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. – Wayne Mar 1 '15 at 19:27
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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.

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    law of physics and chemistry looked working alright. what makes firearms, crossbows, harpoons and many more weapons work. – Balog Pal Jun 17 '13 at 0:36
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    I think a nuke would still be effective ... – Xaltar May 7 '14 at 10:49
  • 5
    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. – trw Sep 24 '14 at 19:56
  • @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.... – Wildcard May 24 '17 at 2:04
20

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.

  • 1
    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. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 19 '12 at 20:38
  • 1
    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. – EvilSnack Sep 25 '16 at 17:08
  • +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. – Jeutnarg Oct 17 '17 at 23:20
19

Possibly - and I'm going out on a limb here - because it would have ruined the mystique of the story?

It's just a story, written in a certain style to create a specific atmosphere.

Guns - non magical guns - would have ruined that atmosphere.

  • 2
    Exactly: Why didn't Gandalf or Frodo Fly to Mount Doom?. Looking from outside (especially knowing the ending) one can often point out things the protagonists could have done more easily, but then there would be no story. – Richard Mar 23 '11 at 11:03
  • 1
    @Richard: My young neice is a big reader, and sometimes we play games "supposing" why stories go a certian way. She's 12 years old and she knows that untimately it's because that's the way it was written. I honestly don't see how these "because that's the way it was written" questions belong on this site. P.s. Especially when magic is involved, you can argue the physics behind SciFi, what the author understood, and extrapolating how much energy a photon torpedo will yield, but with magic? Pointless waste of time, IMHO. – user296 Mar 23 '11 at 12:15
  • 1
    @Richard - I'm looking for in-Universe explanation. I will clarify the Q – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 23 '11 at 12:16
  • @BinaryWorrier: I tend to agree. Too much analysis will destroy the whole underlying realit. @DVK: as @BinaryWorrier says -- there is no really complete in-universe answer to these questions because if there was there would be no sense in asking this kind of question. – Richard Mar 23 '11 at 12:28
  • @Richard never understood that proposal. There is literally a giant magic all-seeing Eye in the sky that can blast stuff to death monitoring the entire territory all the time. How would flying be easier?? This is discussed at long length in the novel: the only hope of success is staying unseen, which necessitates very small creatures crawling through forgotten, desperately dangerous passages where "no one would dare". Anything else would be spotted instantly by the Eye—even a ranger on open road, nevermind something as ridiculously obvious as airborn invaders against the skies of Mordor. – melissa_boiko Oct 12 '18 at 10:21
19

Because you don't want to have a good story in a magical world end like this : enter image description here

  • 7
    Hahaha, that would be horrible xP – ABcDexter Jun 5 '16 at 12:32
  • Lol.. This answer is the 'Tyrion Lannister' of all answers.. Too damn short but way too witty and making hell of a sense!! Awesome.. – CCCC Aug 22 at 17:07
17

All other answers being great, I wanted to address one point:

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.

No, they wouldn't. Death Eaters are literally and figuratively nazis, formed with an ideology that pureblood Wizards should rule the world and halfbloods or muggleborns should be killed/subjugated along with all muggles and non-wizard creatures. They would not adapt muggle technology like guns any more than than a nazi would use yiddish to communicate. Regardless of how practical a gun would be over magic, their ideology would prevent them from accepting that, considering pure-blood magic to be the most powerful thing in nature.

  • 3
    Lord Voldemort would have sooner adopted Harry than adopted Muggle Weapons. His disdain was well known. This is an excellent point. – Captain P Feb 26 '15 at 0:03
13

I think it's a simple matter of familiarity. Mere handguns aren't really better than magic wands (which can do everything a handgun can and more). Most wizards, Muggle-born or otherwise, have far more familiarity and comfort with wands and magical spells than with guns. You really need to be a professional to use a gun well; I don't have the numbers at hand but even trained soldiers very rarely ever hit anything in combat when they shoot. It's unlikely a group of civilians would do better using weapons they aren't well acquainted with. Anything heavier than a handgun (like artillery pieces, mortars, bazookas) requires specialized training, which again a group of civilians would presumably not have. Far better to stick with what you know.

Think about it this way; in Star Wars, why do Jedi use lightsabers and the Force instead of blasters? And who usually wins in a fight between a single Jedi and a group of blaster-wielding fighters?

+1 Also to the bit about guns being less common in Britain. That's probably another factor.

  • 2
    No, guns are better than wands. You can aim a gun better than a wand, bullets travel faster, while spells can be dodged. Magic duels are fought close enough that they can hear each other talking, and they still have time to dodge spells and perform counter-spells. Wands don't have sights, so you can't aim and reliably hit a human sized target with them at distances over 10 m. The Jedi example is not valid, because lightsabers are only good against other lightsabers and blasters, those who hunt Jedi use kinetic weapons which are the perfect choice against someone with a lighstaber and no armor. – vsz Mar 8 '13 at 20:56
  • 3
    @vsz I disagree that guns are better than wands. It's "magic"; there are very few limits to what it can do. A stronger version or a variation of the Shield Charm could deflect all bullets. Another charm could deactivate the chemical reactions that allow gunpowder to explode, in a given area. There's no canon reason that these things can't be done. There's also no canon for "spells can be dodged"; it's never mentioned how fast a spell travels. Spells miss for the same reasons humans with guns miss; moving targets, aiming under pressure, imperfect aim etc. – Jay Mar 9 '13 at 10:11
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    Didn't know the bit about Jedi and kinetic weapons; is that Expanded Universe? Also, a bullet blocked by a lightsaber would vaporize and surely bullets travel slower than laser beams. How come kinetic weapons are effective? – Jay Mar 9 '13 at 10:12
  • 1
    Both were already addressed on SE: see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/30812/… and scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/13695/… . Blasters in Star Wars don't shoot laser beams, by the way. – vsz Mar 9 '13 at 12:16
  • 3
    @MacCooper How long is "in a bit"? :D – Dan Jul 6 '17 at 14:17
12

As some already pointed out, the answer is that muggle technology is not consistent with HP world..... with the latter unable to exist as it is with the former. In a real muggles-wizard shared world, there are 2 main points to consider. The 1st one is the old debate on which is stronger if magic or modern weapons, but to me it seems like Rowling herself gave away the answer. I mean, many here wrote something along the line of "the magician just have to wave his wand and poof, gunpowder is wet or bullets ricochet or whatever"; yet we saw all along the books how while magic can do -obviously- many unexplainable things the crazier the feat is, the stronger the magician has to be. Even just killing someone need a huge magic power according to the fake moody, and the duel between albus and voldemort is probably the highest level of destruction mages can reach. Were you impressed reading it? How strong must be the mage to cast a protego able to shield him from an assault rifle, which bullets can pierce normal walls? What about RPGs? Is the cloak spell able to hide your body heat too? What about the noise blast and the heat wave of explosions? Is Hogwart really able to hide itself from satellites, and if not what happen when a cruise missile (high tech) or a barrage of artillery (low tech) hit it? And so on... all points rised in forums everywhere. The ignorance of Mr. Weasley on muggle tech is a comic relief, but even the mere potential damage that a muggle bomb represent would at least ensure a Ministry of Magic department totally devoted to ensure both the ignorance of muggles about wizardry things and the constant research of ways to make muggle weapons ineffective against wizards. None of this appears in the books - its such a big plot hole that Rowling, comprehensibly, avoided it totally. Hp saga is a fairy tale after all, not a documentary on how wizards could actually live in a modern world.

The 2nd main point, way less used imho, is that in a real shared muggle-wizards world muggles would SURELY know about magic. Really, no way to deny that. From one side, scientifically speaking, magic seems to follow rules so its pretty reasonable to assume that a biologist could detect what make some herbs able to give X effect in a potion instead of Y, or which part of the brain a magician activate while casting or receiving spells, or overall the practical effects of magic in the real world. The wingardum leviosa deny gravity? Cool - lets test it an a lab on some sensor-flled item and lets check whats really happening. And what about fossilized bones of magical animals, like centaurs or giants? What about mapping the dna of wizards, comparing them to muggles? Beside, the Weasley family prove you can be a wizard and relatively poor... how long would it take before a squid, who could at best be a janitor in Hogwarts and despised by purebloods while among magicians, decide to sell some magical artifacts in exchange of a boatload of muggle money or, if he just want to stay in the magical world, enough gold to buy an attic in front of the gringott bank and fill it with all he could desire? Come on.... And this would obviously create huge interest in the muggle world, huge push either to understand how magic works and replicate it or at worst, if that really was impossible (and nothing in the books suggest so, because the question is rightfully ignored) to bride every wizard they can offering gold, women, luxuries or whatever they want in exchange of their services? Besides we know the freaking prime minister of muggle is in contact with the minister of magic - even with the "no one would believe him" note, couldn't he at least fill his office with cameras? Even if they didn't work, a digital one would stop transmitting and that would be noted by the receiving pc. Etc etc etc.

Bottom line: muggles and their tech are ignored because they couldnt be inserted in the story without destroying it.

  • I think the bottom line tells the tale, while the elaborate guesses (not limited to this post) more like substract from it. – Balog Pal Jun 17 '13 at 0:53
10

The important thing to realize is that the Potterverse is very much of a particular time and place, 1991 onwards when the first book is set but also 1997, when the first book was written.

When Jo Rowling wrote The Philosopher's Stone, the Hungerford Massacre of 1988 had seen guns virtually disappear from regular ownership in the UK. Laws on owning guns had tightened, however a gun was present in that first book and Vernon Dursley does have one which Hagrid takes from him. Soon after this book was completed, the Dunblane Massacre took place, less than 50 miles from Edinburgh, where Rowling lived.

Sixteen children and their teacher were gunned down in cold blood at a school, the very scenario some on this page have put forth as being a possibility. It happens in real life all to often and being that close to Rowling's home and victims of similar ages to her own children, you can see a very real reason why guns played no further part in her writing, deaths were handled differently, even the execution of a creature like Buckbeak was to be done the old fashioned way rather than with the obvious bullet. The children who died at Hogwarts were older and died fighting for their beliefs, arguably Rowling was re-writing that massacre and could have caught flak for it. Those that die are heroes in their world, never forgotten, so I'd look at it as a tribute... Indeed if it's true there was a plan "all along" then the Dunblane Massacre would have been right at the formation of it.

From a storyline perspective, while Mr. Dursley is the kind of guy who could get a license for a gun from his local Police, no other Muggle characters in the story would particularly need one or be given one and as the Weasley's car proves, magic and technology do not work well together.

To an extent older Muggle technology/ideas do have a place, the students all travel to Hogwarts on a magically powered steam train. The Bulgarian students arrive in a Sailboat/Submarine and of course the Knight Bus.

All are based on Muggle inventions but not as advanced as items of that era which indicates Weasley Sr.'s departments work is based on making that tech work with magic, and they're only up to cars now...and can't quite get that yet. Indeed it's obvious from the books that it's not a particularly valued "science" and it's largely Arthur Weasley's fascination for all things Muggle that drives the advances that are made.

Other technology will be there in the character's experience. It's conceivable the richer Dursleys and Grangers might have had some kind of computer in their homes, along with other mod cons like TV's, Microwave's, Stereos... However the Internet as we know it wasn't there and a computer was not the reference tool it can be today. Home computing was largely about gaming in 1991. It's conceivable Dudley might have a Nintendo etc... but Harry would never have been allowed near it or any of the other tech the Dursleys owned so he'd have no concept unless he saw a computer at School. It's telling that Vernon tries to save things like his Lawn Mower when the "end" is coming.

Hermionie's parents were Dentists, so they'd have an emphasis on research and book learning and Ron never had any chance of seeing a computer unless his dad brought one home from work, and none of them would have a chance of using it.

From evil's perspective, there is no need of such trivial things as guns or a computer. Magic provides all Voldemort and his followers need to achieve what they want, fear, terror, death and control. The Unforgivable curses handle it all, from outright killing to controlling another to end themselves or another and all evil deeds apart from that, the dancing spider that Barty Jr. shows the students while pretending to be Moody proves evil needs nothing more than a wand and knowledge.

America is conspicuously absent in the books, not much is really mentioned about Wizards there. It's entirely possible that Wizards might use guns there or own them or defense against them be more of an important skill but in the wilds of Scotland/Hogwarts or Little Whinging during the 90's, it was highly unlikely anyone in the Wizarding world could put their hands on a gun if they thought to use one again, not involving America is probably a conscious choice as it would force the gun issue.

Muggles would likely have been warned/educated on the powers of magic in order for the "truce" to be there between them. That the Ministry of Magic has a relationship with the Muggle Government at all means there is some awareness of the destructive potential of magic. If, as opined here a Special Forces unit moved against Voldemort and his flock then the Imperius curse would quickly see them turn the guns on themselves or each other or even return to attack their own kind. Likewise the Wizarding world would be aware of the dangers of Muggle weapons, they'd know of the Nuclear Bomb etc and they would shun all tech, partially to prevent another Voldemort (or the original as it turned out) gaining power over such weapons. While magic can do all Voldemort needs to take over, there is no better deterrent to guarantee the Muggle obedience than controlling their WMD's. So they remain somewhat insular and resist technology, they know magic is powerful but no Wizard alone can do as much damage as one Muggle weapon in the wrong hands and they know it.

9

There is more to acquiring guns than you think. Firstly, they'd have to be of age (18 or 21) to purchase a gun and then they'd have to be licensed to carry one (unless you're a criminal who acquires guns illegally). So during the second Voldemort war, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all too young to have them, being only 17.

Harry and Hermione are adapting to the wizarding world of no guns, only wands, and so they probably never really thought about wizards using guns.

  • 11
    "Accio gun". BAM. No license needed. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Sep 18 '12 at 11:18
  • 2
    With an Invisibility Cloak and "Alohamora" to open the door, they could just steal the guns. – Tiberia Apr 25 '14 at 3:55
9

My oh my There's so much I'dlike ot say, but I'll try ot keep it short and simple. OK Here it goes:

  1. Muggle Born don't necessarily know how to acurately, effectively and safely use a gun. As stated above, they've been immersed in wizarding culture since their attending Hogwarts, they may return home to their parents in the muggle world during the Holidays, but it would be very easy to lose track of technological progess. The muggle world may seem unteresting, and boring. They may come to thnik of guns as little more than a potentially dangerous piece of pyrotechnics... in the hands of a trained and experienced shooter.

  2. Even if some of them knew how to use a gun, owned a gun and brought it, they would be too few to make a real difference. They're much better trained at using a wand that at firing a gun. Also, there's casting a spell. Knowing you can just incapacitate or stun your target whereas a gun is meant to kill and to kill only. There's firing at a practice target on a shooting range and shooting at moving and living target. They're still just kids, even though the events of the story must have changed them.

  3. This is a series of books meant for children and/or teenagers, the main meassage of series is that love, trust friendship and all things warm and fuzzy defeat evil, that violence fear anger are useless. References to Christ is present throughout the series, It begins with Lily Potter's sacrifice, and it ends with Harry walking to his death, ultimately leading to the defeat of evil."Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love".This is all sacrificing yourself out of love for others, altruism etc. So having kid and teenagers going badass and spaying Death Eater with bullets just wouldn't do it.This is Jesus, not Jeezus.

  4. "Area of effect" weapon systems such as hand Grenades, be they explosive,smoke screen, or flash bang grenade, would be far more effective from a tactical and strategical standpoint, no need to aim just need to pull the pin and throw in the general direction of the target and enjoy the show. My personal favourite? Chemical weapons, but let's be realistic in the best case scenario they would have access to pepper spray or tear gas grenades and "magic" bubble-head charm problem solved let's continue our merry mudblod slaughter party! The best course of action was to keep it simple and effcient and they did! Mandrakes and other magical plants animated armors, firing spells from the top of the towers. There must be oh-so-many way they defended the castle were not told about...I would've loved to see booby traps or the centautrs charging... But the battle of Howarts was a secondary objective, the the whole purpose of Holding Hogwarts was to Harry enough time,it was all a big diversion a ploy.

  5. So why didn't they use muggle technology? they didn't need to, it would have made things unecessarily complicated, plus it was a totally improvised event,they didn't know Harry would come and there would be a battle.

8

I think the biggest thing to consider is the whole "technology not working around high magic areas" such as Hogwarts. Is it simply a type if electrical interference OR is it that physics, the very thing that makes technology work, is being bent out of shape.

IF Physics is indeed being manipulated by magic, then I think it is safe to say that even an item as simple as a mousetrap may not function properly in highly magical areas. And therefore, an item slightly more complex (like a gun) would also lose its effectiveness.

Another point I would like to address: Charms are preparation spells. You preform them ahead of time. You can charm an item so you don't have to repeatedly charm yourself. So you could make a magically bulletproof jacket that even protects your head.

8

Because kids start Hogwarts at eleven.

That's my best answer, anyway - a great heaping dose of culture and a helping of psychology.

Very few eleven year olds know much about guns. Perhaps they might have seen them on television or heard about them, but that kind of knowledge doesn't feel real for most, and few would have any sort of first hand knowledge. Perhaps if their families were into guns or hunting, but that would likely be rare, given England is not really big on gun culture. Few kids would ever think of a gun as something they might use.

It's also specifically mentioned that electronics don't work, and plastics don't last to well either (I think they mentioned pens). Neither actually has to apply to guns, most work off of mechanical and chemical power a great deal less complex than, say, a car (like the Weasley's). However, because they are the most common things kids would try to bring, their failure will give a firm impression in the kids' minds that muggle things don't work around magic. They wouldn't think of muggle solutions to wizarding problems. Even Hermione - she's bright, but tends to be uncritical about some things.

So, they're going to Hogwarts, where they spend three quarters of the year for the next seven years almost completely out of touch with the mundane world. There aren't any muggle technology at all, and no guns, not even mentions of current events in the news, or history class. The Hogwarts experience would alienate any kid from their mundane roots (possibly on purpose, as a few prior answers mentioned) - they spend most of their time immersed in the wizarding world and culture, learning almost nothing useful or even connected to the mundane world, and the kids would tend to wizarding solutions because that's what they see, that's what is real to them. Perhaps it might occur to someone who ended up back in the muggle world after Hogwarts - but then they probably would be far enough from the wizarding not to pass the idea on to many others.

So yes, a muggle born would find it rather easy, given magic, to get their hands on a gun. And it would probably be really effective, or the wizarding world wouldn't have had to resort to the statute of secrecy. But before that could happen, there had to be a moment where that same muggle born realized that a gun was something they could acquire. Something they could use.

And that realization is exactly what that seven years' emphasis on wizarding culture suppresses. They're socialized to use spells, and there are potentially deadly spells available to them from a very young age - recall an eleven year old with a first spell took out a troll, and realize they could kill a person very young. They can escalate with spells without that moment of "things got real, time to look for something deadly" that might send one of us for a gun.

  • Except in HPMOR. – Wildcard May 24 '17 at 2:07
6

One point I found everyone missing is this:

In Order of the Phoenix, McGonagall rebukes Harry and George for "giving an exhibition of Muggle duelling" when they physically attack Draco after the first Quidditch match. On the other hand, wizard duelling is not usually rebuked for at Hogwarts unless there are serious casualties or security threats. I suppose here that Harry and George using guns (with rubber bullets) or pepper sprays against Draco would have provoked the same comment from McGonagall.

Likewise, when Hermione punched Malfoy in Prisoner of Azkaban, he was not a weakling unable to return it, or at least attempt at it, especially given who his companions were. What is likely is that he thought too lowly of the Muggle way of his Muggle born opponent, but owing to it being effective and taking him in surprise, withdrew from the scene for the time being. And Hermione herself seem to have thought not much highly of herself as she was upset to the point of missing her Charms class (though there are other points to that as well) apparently of indignation.

In the Goblet of Fire, she was quick to dismiss Ron's idea of Harry summoning an Aqua-Lung from the nearest Muggle town for his second task with the pretext that it shall violate the Statute of Secrecy. She goes on later in the book to explain how "all the substitutes Muggles use for magic" fail to work at Hogwarts.

Even in a situation like that in Deathly Hallows when Ron returns to Harry and her, she looks for her wand after a brief moment of "punching every inch of him she could reach".

These instances on the whole suggest that even a highly talented, yet self-respecting Muggle-born witch like Hermione took the Muggle ways of duelling and physical attack in general to be inferior and below their standards, and never went for Muggle solutions for their problems.

Wizards are known to use knives, swords, arrows etc. for combat, they being in use for ages, too traditional. It may be that they take pride in their old ways and equipment. For example, they still follow the dress code of the middle ages, irrespective of their blood status, a fact which has nothing to do with magic and moreover is a disadvantage that shows them off among Muggles.

If one adheres to the contention that wands actually fare better than guns too, in well prepared combats at least, the above is an in-universe explanation to why wizards, or Muggle-borns in particular, do not use Muggle technology in war.

  • 1
    The question wasn't about wizards. It was about Muggle-borns specifically... and you yourself noted that Hermione had no issues punching Malfoy's lights out with no concern of "this is Muggle way" – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 6 '14 at 23:26
  • 1
    But then she pulled out her wand immediately. Doesn't her being upset to the point of missing her Charms class suggest that she herself thought not too highly about it? I am modifying my answer to meet the Muggle-born specification. – N Unnikrishnan May 9 '14 at 8:40
5

Even though most seventh years are of age in the wizarding world, in the Muggle world, they would still be under-age. Nobody is going to let seventeen-year-olds buy guns, especially if they don't have licenses.

  • 1
    Also, Muggle technology doesn't work around highly magical areas, as Hermione says in Goblet of Fire. – Laurel Oct 28 '14 at 3:29
3

Most of the answers here seem to be arguing some form of "it wouldn't be effective". In fact, though, there are quite a few examples where Muggle weapons were used by or against wizards, and when used successfully the wizards do in fact die. Some of these cases are even where they were used against Death Eaters, so it's not like it has never been done.

  • Harry kills the basilisk with a sword.

    The basilisk lunged again, and this time its aim was true — Harry threw his whole weight behind the sword and drove it to the hilt into the roof of the serpent's mouth —

  • Neville killes Nagini with a sword.

    With a single stroke Neville sliced off the great snake's head,

  • Sirius Black attacks Gryffinfor Tower with a knife, and it is assumed that he could have killed with it.

    "...I was asleep, and I heard this ripping noise, and I thought it was in my dream, you know? But then there was this draft... I woke up and one side of the hangings on my bed had been pulled down... I rolled over... and I saw him standing over me... like a skeleton, with loads of filthy hair... holding this great long knife, must've been twelve inches... and he looked at me, and I looked at him, and then I yelled, and he scampered.

    "Why, though?" Ron added to Harry as the group of second year girls who had been listening to his chilling tale departed. "Why did he run?"

    Harry had been wondering the same thing. Why had Black, having got the wrong bed, not silenced Ron and proceeded to Harry? Black had proved twelve years ago that he didn't mind murdering innocent people, and this time he had been facing five unarmed boys, four of whom were asleep.

  • Ron throws a knife at Fred who easily stops it.

    Mrs. Weasley entered the room just in time to see Ron throw the sprout knife at Fred, who had turned it into a paper airplane with one lazy flick of his wand.

  • Bellatrix uses a knife on Hermione and Dobby.

    "What else did you take? What else have you got? Tell me the truth or, I swear, I will run you through with this knife!"

  • The elf swayed slightly, stars reflected in his wide, shining eyes. Together, he and Harry looked down to the silver hilt of the knife protruding from the elf's heaving chest.

  • Harry hopes for the police to save him from Voldemort.

    The Death Eater on the ground writhed and shrieked; Harry was sure the sound must carry to the houses around.... Let the police come, he thought desperately... anyone... anything...

  • Nearly Headless Nick was killed by an axe.

    "But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, "that getting hit fourty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?"

  • It is true, of course, that genuine witches and wizards were reasonably adept at escaping the stake, block and noose (see my comments about Lisette de Lapin in the commentary on "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump"). However, a number of deaths did occur: Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington (a wizard at the royal court in his lifetime, and in his death-time, ghost of Gryffindor Tower) was stripped of his wand before being locked in a dungeon, and was unable to magic himself out of his execution; and wizarding families were particularly prone to losing younger members, whose inability to control their own magic made them noticeable, and vulnerable, to Muggle witch-hunters.

  • The Warlock killed himself (and probably the maiden) with a dagger.

    Before the horror-struck eyes of his guests, the warlock cast aside his wand, and seized a silver dagger. Vowing never to be mastered by his own heart, he hacked it from his chest.

  • The oldest brother's throat was slit.

    That very night, another wizard crept upon the oldest brother as he lay, wine-sodden, upon his bed. The thief took the wand and, for good measure, slit the oldest brother's throat.

  • The Headless Hunt consists of a dozen decapitated wizards.

    Through the dungeon wall burst a dozen ghost horses, each ridden by a headless horseman.

  • The Centaurs used arrows against the Death Eaters.

    Then came hooves and the twangs of bows, and arrows were suddenly falling amongst the death Eaters, who broke ranks, shouting their surprise.

  • The house-elves used carving knives and cleavers against the Death Eaters.

    The house-elves of Hogwarts swarmed into the entrance hall, screaming and waving carving knives and cleavers,

All the above cases involve very rudimentary weapons. If they can be used effectively, certainly more sophisticated modern weapons can be used effectively. In only one of the above cases was the Muggle weapon easily neutralized by magic (Ron's knife) and in that case the attack seems to have been more of a joke too begin with.

We do find on at least one occasion that a wizard does think to use modern Muggle technology, though not in the context of fighting Death Eaters:

Ron quite liked the idea of using the Summoning Charm again – Harry had explained about Aqua-Lungs, and Ron couldn't see why Harry shouldn't summon one from the nearest Muggle town. Hermione squashed this plan by pointing out that, in the unlikely event that Harry managed to learn how to operate an Aqua-Lung within the set limit of an hour, he was sure to be disqualified for breaking the International Code of Wizarding Society – it was too much to hope that no Muggles would spot an Aqua-Lung zooming across the countryside to Hogwarts.

Somewhat similarly, Fred and George employ certain Muggle skills:

"A lot of wizards think it's a waste of time, knowing this sort of Muggle trick," said Fred, "but we feel they're skills worth learning, even if they are a bit slow."

So why don't wizards use Muggle technology/weaponry more often? It may be a combination of several factors:

  1. Many instances of Muggle technology/weaponry could be thwarted. Indeed, as we saw above, Fred very easily neutralized the knife that was thrown at him. It would seem more likely to work when there is the element of surprise involved, so the wizard doesn't have time to neutralize the technology. So if someone knew, for example, that a Death Eater was fishing by a river, he could sneak up and use a gun to kill the Death Eater without the Death Eater being prepared to stop it. However, for the most part, people don't seem to know where Death eaters are hanging out, so sneaking up on them is not such a common option; moreover, in the event that you could locate an unprepared Death Eater, you could sneak up on him and kill/incapacitate him with magic for the same price.

    Similarly, while guns might have helped in a situation like the final battle at Hogwarts, it seems that a large-scale battle like that is a pretty rare scenario. In that particular instance, there wasn't much time for anyone to try to acquire Muggle technology, even if they had thought of it.

  2. Wizards are... foolish? They seem to regularly not think of obvious magical solutions, so you can't really expect them to think of non-magical solutions:

    "So light a fire!" Harry choked.

    "Yes — of course — but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

    "HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"

    "How — how're we going to get in?" panted Ron. "I can — see the place — if we just had Crookshanks again —"

    "Crookshanks" wheezed Hermione, bent double, clutching her chest. "Are you a wizard, or what?"

    Next moment Dumbledore was backing into the dormitory, wearing a long woolly dressing gown and a nightcap. He was carrying one end of what looked like a statue. Professor McGonagall appeared a second later, carrying it's feet. Together, they heaved it onto a bed.

    "You know what? I can manage him alone, Neville," said Oliver Wood, and he heaved Colin over his shoulder in a fireman's lift and carried him into the Great Hall.

  3. Similarly, Hermione notes that many wizards wouldn't even be able to solve a simple logic puzzle:

    "Brilliant," said Hermione. "This isn't magic — it's logic — a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic, they'd be stuck here forever.

    While Hermione herself may possess a brain and some logic, she seems to lack the ability to think outside the box — which is precisely how one would think to use Muggle technology:

    "Luna has told me all about you, young lady," said Xenophilius. "You are, I gather, not unintelligent, but painfully limited. Narrow. Close-minded."

    "Add a clockwise stir —"

    "No, no, the book says counterclockwise!" she snapped.

  4. Most wizards — including Muggle-borns — probably have very little familiarity with Muggle technology/weaponry. Consider that even a Muggle-born enters the Wizarding World at the young age of eleven. As young children they might have very little exposure to such things, and once they join the Wizarding World they are likely to devote themselves to learning more about magic rather than learning more about Muggle technology — precisely because they are Muggle-born and therefore have the disadvantage of knowing nothing about magic yet. Consider Hermione. She finds out she is a witch and that there are 10,000 books about magic in the library. Is she likely to spend her time reading about guns and bombs, or trying to learn everything there is to know about magic?

So in sum, I think we can say the following: Wizards do occasionally use Muggle weapons, sometimes even in battle. That they don't do so more often may be attributed to foolishness, close-mindedness, lack of confidence in its effectiveness, actual limited effectiveness, lack of experience/knowledge to do so, or any combination of the above (and perhaps other) reasons.

(That said, I will acknowledge that this appears to be a case where the question is better than any of the answers.)

3

Guns (probably) wouldn't actually kill or harm a wizard.

We see at least five occasions when wizards are exposed to a mundane hazard that should (theoretically) result in significant physical harm. In each case their magic automatically acts to protects them.

  • Neville gets dropped from a great height

    My great-uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me – he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned – but nothing happened until I was eight. Great-uncle Algie came round for tea and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my great-auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced – all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased.

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

  • Lily Potter protects herself from a falling flat on her face from a swing.

    But the girl had let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flown into the air, quite literally flown, launched herself skywards with a great shout of laughter, and instead of crumpling on the playground asphalt, she soared, like a trapeze artist through the air, staying up far too long, landing far too lightly.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • Harry uses magic to evade attackers.

    On the other hand, he’d got into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley’s gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry’s surprise as anyone else’s, there he was sitting on the chimney.

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Note that the kinetic energy from a 9mm bullet (approx 1050J) is significantly lower than the kinetic energy of a portly child hitting the floor from a first floor window (approx 1473J).

  • Harry creates some kind of super-slick field around himself that prevents Vernon from grabbing onto him

    “Get – off – me!’ Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncle’s sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wand; then, as the pain in the top of Harry’s head gave a particularly nasty throb, Uncle Vernon yelped and released Harry as though he had received an electric shock. Some invisible force seemed to have surged through his nephew, making him impossible to hold.”

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Hagrid is extremely surprised when he learns that James and Lily supposedly died in a mundane car crash, as if such a thing was simply beyond his understanding.

    ‘CAR CRASH!’ roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. ‘How could a car crash kill Lily an’ James Potter? It’s an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin’ his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!’

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


Quite what form the involuntary magical defence against a bullet would take is anyone's guess, but it's certainly within the realms of the story that the bullet would turn into something less harmful, simply vanish or that the intended target would find themselves having Apparated somewhere else

  • Arthur Weasley and Hermione state that wizards can perform instinctive magic far beyond their usual skill when in extreme circumstances.

    “After a few moments, Hermione said gently, ‘But that’s impossible, Harry. You mean that you did magic without meaning to; you reacted instinctively.’

    ‘No,’ said Harry. ‘The bike was falling, I couldn’t have told you where Voldemort was, but my wand spun in my hand and found him and shot a spell at him, and it wasn’t even a spell I recognised. I’ve never made gold flames appear before.’

    ‘Often,’ said Mr Weasley, ‘when you’re in a pressured situation you can produce magic you never dreamed of.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2

I think a possible in-universe answer is due to the natural tendency of human beings to be prejudiced against those unlike themselves, and such prejudice takes a long time to shift.

For centuries, wizards were better than muggles at everything. Wizards could communicate with each other over long distances by casting a spell to have their image and voice appear in a fire; muggles could only communicate by actually being in the same room, or by writing something on a piece of clay/parchment/paper which had to be delivered to the recipient. Wizards could transport themselves quickly over long distances, by Apparition, Floo Network, Portkey... Muggles had to walk, or maybe could get there a little quicker riding a horse. Wizards could transform one object into another in the blink of an eye; muggles could only hack away at things, or shape metal by heating it to near-melting point and hitting it with a hammer.

...Until a couple of centuries ago. All of a sudden muggles can travel long distances, maybe not instantaneously (just yet), but in a much shorter time than before - you can be on the other side of the planet within a day. Muggles can communicate instantaneously if they have a neat little gadget in their pocket which costs just a few pounds. Factories can churn out goods in their millions, and 3D printers make it feasible to make things it would have been difficult and time-consuming to make before. And while magic appears to have changed little since Hogwarts was founded, muggle technology has changed very rapidly since 1800, and in some areas, unbelievably rapidly since 1970. But the wizards still have their prejudicial notion that muggles are stupid and can't do anything, even though the evidence is right before their eyes that it isn't true.

Prejudice often takes a long time to shift.

1

My opinion would be different, but bare fact is, that Harry Potter universe is meant for kids so there are simply no guns there.

IF we were to be more creative and imagine HP world as real, without the rules and restrictions of book for kids, situation would be different. Few clever muggle-born wizards would easily learn how to operate let's say AK-47 in a few weeks training. Same goes for basic land mines and C4-like explosives. Using their wizard skills they could enchant these weapons for use in areas like Hogwarts (to resist spells protecting the area from muggle-tech). If Order of the Phoenix started with training task-force like that first thing after learning that Nonose is still a threat, deatheaters would be probably shredded in subsequent clashes. It would be no problem for the Order to acquire muggle weaponry using magic, even in Britain. Just imagine Nonose and his homeboys standing there, about to destroy protective spells around Hogwarts, when someone inside fires fine aimed mortar...

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    Right... because no people are murdered by means other than guns in Harry Potter universe... Inlcuding by a curse taught in a wizard school to a bunch of 4th graders – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 7 '14 at 19:36
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    I don't understand. Of course people are constantly killed by means other than guns in HP universe, they are killed always by means other than guns. I am just saying, that using sniper rifle, assault rifle, explosives or ordnance would be extremely effective against deatheaters. – Delltar Apr 9 '14 at 18:38
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    @DVK-in-exile Generally '4th grader' means someone in their fourth year of primary school - it means 9 year olds, not 16 year olds. – Miles Rout Oct 17 '16 at 9:22
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    @DVK-in-exile Also, doing that was illegal. It was done by a death eater! – Miles Rout Oct 17 '16 at 9:22
  • @MilesRout I'm not sure it was illegal. He didn't cast them on a human and he suggested Dumbledore wanted him to teach him what they would be subjected to eventually. Just because he's a Death Eater doesn't mean he lied about everything or everything he did was awful - let's remember that he taught Harry to resist the Imperius Curse! It's too often suggested that bad people have no good in them but that's categorically false and trying to simplify people, an exceedingly complex species with all sorts of differences, similarities and so much more. – Pryftan Mar 29 '18 at 14:33
1

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Daily Prophet article on Sirius Black mentioned that the Ministry had alleged Sirius to be carrying a gun, and then the article went on to explain what a gun was for, implying that the typical wizard had no idea what a gun was for, and even that the article writer had only the most basic idea.

So clearly as a general rule wizarding people are very behind the times on Muggle developments. Even if they'd had a reason to keep up, doing so would take more time than many magical people seem to have time for.

Dumbledore, who pays far more attention to the Muggle world than does a typical wizard, certainly knows about guns. Voldemort may have deigned to cast some sort of magic to protect himself from bullets. As for the rest, wizards don't deal with Muggles that often, and I daresay that encounters with armed Muggles are a rarity for them.

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    the question's title very explicitly asks about muggle-born wizards – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '16 at 2:53
  • I thought that was what was explained to the Muggles? They couldn’t say wand so they suggested he was armed and dangerous but the closest thing they could say is a gun unless they want to say drumstick... – Pryftan Apr 1 '18 at 23:18
1

Because they don't work around magic.

GOF CH. 28

All those substitutes for magic Muggles use – electricity, and computers and radar, and all those things – they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there’s too much magic in the air.'

Although this quote refers specifically to electricity, there's no question JKR intended this to be as a cop-out or loophole to "why didn't anybody use Muggle-technology" questions.

(Yay shortest answer!)

  • This is basically identical to Voldemort's answer, just with better citations. – ibid Sep 27 '17 at 14:18
  • @ibid is that a problem? SInce I do have better citations? – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Sep 27 '17 at 14:19
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    Everything posted on SE is under the creative commons. You could literally copy and paste someone else's answer word for word of you wanted to without it being a "problem". Just don't expect the same amount of upvotes. – ibid Sep 27 '17 at 14:22
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    Electronics go haywire around Hogwarts, but not elsewhere. Also, most guns aren't electronic, they're chemical. And we know that chemical reactions work just fine around magic or else Seamus couldn't have kept blowing his face up – Valorum Oct 11 '18 at 22:12
1

Most Death Eaters would learn or create spells to block the muggle items since Voldemort himself is half-blood, (though he won't admit it); he would know most of the items, and would know how to stop them. Additionally, Death Eaters had Giants, Trolls and Dementors on their side, and Dementors can't be destroyed in any way, except by a Patronus (and still not completely destroyed). And, judging by the way Hagrid bent Uncle Vernon's rifle into a loop in Sorcerer's Stone, most full-blood giants would probably do the same. Trolls have thick skin, and most muggle weapons can't get through it.

In short, the only wizard you could defeat with a muggle weapon would be Arthur Weasley, because he would be so interested in it that he would forget about the battle at hand.

1

Several answers have valid points; Jeff's answer in particular alludes to something interesting though: the secrecy/hiding of the Wizard-kind from the Muggles. He also suggested that Rowling said something about this. I suspect though I may be wrong that he referred to this on Pottermore about The Sword of Gryffindor. Here Rowling wrote the following:

The question of why a wizard would need a sword, though often asked, is easily answered. In the days before the International Statute of Secrecy, when wizards mingled freely with Muggles, they would use swords to defend themselves just as often as wands. Indeed, it was considered unsporting to use a wand against a Muggle sword (which is not to say it was never done). Many gifted wizards were also accomplished duellists in the conventional sense, Gryffindor among them.

The way I read that and what makes me think wizards/witches frown upon (and/or never think about) using Muggle technology for combat is that after the International Statute of Secrecy they had no need nor desire to fight with Muggle technology. Part of the reason they did in the first place is it was considered unsporting (which I read as unethical and dishonourable) to wield a wand against a Muggle (unlike how the Muggles would execute wizards/witches). After they went into hiding however they had no need to use Muggle technology in combat. Not only are they trained in magic and not trained in Muggle technology (at least any longer - we don't know where or how the four founders learnt their magic so we can't say one way or another at least as far as the four and those before them not to mention why or how Gryffindor - and others too - became a duellist as well) but they also are much more experienced with magic. That last point is something you should not dismiss; ask yourself the following questions:

If you were taught in magic but not in armed combat would you prefer armed combat to fight wizards (who can Apparate, conceal themselves, inspire fear, control others with magic, and other many things!)? Did Hermione get training in armed combat? Did Harry have any experience - having been raised by Muggles of the worst kind - with sword fighting or shooting a gun (never mind the fact it's not exactly something you see often in the UK) or anything like that? If you were in their position would you dare fight by firearm or sword when you actually have magic? Let's remember also that Harry had not only A Cloak of Invisibility but THE Cloak of Invisibility but other abilities too. When you throw in the Disillusionment Charm (not saying Harry mastered it but then again he had the Cloak of Invisibility) and Apparation and other things like that there is arguably no benefit of using Muggle weapons.

One more thing to ask yourself: what good would a firearm be against Dementors? What about Giants, Trolls and other creatures like that? Remember these are creatures the Death Eaters employed. And firearms, crossbows, swords and other Muggle weapons would do little to anything to them and as for Dementors (if they could get close enough to them in the first place!) absolutely nothing. One could question whether it'd be safe using Muggle weapons if a wizard could make them turn the weapon on themselves but besides some resisting the Imperius Curse (though seems rarer - but Voldemort knew that Harry could resist even his! He the most powerful wizard of them all, he the one who killed Dumbledore and countless other worthless men and women .. was unable to make Harry do something through the Imperius Curse!) the problem is it seemed to be they didn't try with wands (at least not direct assault on themselves) so perhaps you can dismiss that one. Still might be something they'd fear though.

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