God Squads and Guys with Guns

Posted by Amy Elliott


You’ve no doubt heard the persistent trope of the ‘good guy’ with the gun who can supposedly stop the ‘bad guy’. But where does it come from? Amy Elliott attempts to supply a little context.

You know the movie. The villain is rampaging through the town, playing havoc among the invariably incompetent police force and/or ruling where he conquers with an iron fist. Who can stop him? Only one man. A man who may be quite ordinary to all appearances but is somehow the chosen one, on account of his having special powers, or just an excellent aim.


Illustration from about the early 14th century of a judicial combat.

What you have there is basically a summary of a lot of action films, and it’s a trope that’s made its way firmly into the collective mind.

This compelling idea would seem to be the origin of the ‘good guy versus the bad guy with a gun’, though it’s been with us for a lot longer than cinema. Duelling was permitted legally in most U.S. states until the early 20th century. It was related to trial by combat, wherein disputing parties fought and whoever prevailed was deemed to be telling the truth. We are mostly aware now, of course, that the victor would be the most skilled fighter, regardless of their actual rightness or wrongness.

Yet among some people the myth clearly continues to seep into real life.

In George Eliot’s tale Silas Marner, the eponymous protagonist is cast out by his evangelical church community. He’s accused of stealing from a sick man, who later dies. Silas figures out that his friend must have committed the robbery while he himself was in a cataleptic state. He declares that ‘God will clear him’. Lots are cast, and show Silas to be guilty, leading to him losing his position in the church and his fiancée. He leaves the community soon after, and resettles, disenchanted with the world and with God alike.

The modern reader will no doubt evince disgust at the idea of an innocent man’s life being destroyed because of an unjustified belief in Divine providence acting in this way. Aware of Silas’ innocence, we nevertheless see injustice done in the name of faith. Yet it is precisely this reasoning that’s behind trial by combat, and behind the gun rights ideology: the notion that the great judge above will see the truth and support the righteous against the sinner. The absolutism and superstition inherent in this idea persist in evangelical churches today; and, according to George Lakoff, the conservative world view as a whole: namely that there are two groups of people — good and bad — and that God ensures the good will prosper and the bad will perish.

The definitions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of course vary somewhat. Evangelical church types will usually identify ‘good’ with recognizable, part of the church group, a known practicing Christian. Further afield, the idea of ‘good’ might be associated with whiteness, wealth, conservative views, or lack of a (prior) criminal record.

This kind of simplification allows those who practice it to skip over the nuances of reality, and actually envisage a situation in which there are, indeed, ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ with fixed qualities. Their fate is arbited not by the random rules of chance, but by an omnipresent and omnipotent sky deity, to whom worshippers can appeal as the ultimate authority, bypassing inconvenient things like the rule of law, habeas corpus, and critical thinking. Those who cling to the Second Amendment in fear of the ‘tyrannical’ government seem to be aiming at something like the Republic of Gilead.

Thankfully, the brave Parkland kids — true heroes every one — and their supporters are leading the charge out of this land of unreason. Should they succeed, it will hopefully be a victory both for evidence-based policy and for the separation of church and state, as well as saving innumerable lives by ending an irrational and outdated dependence on guns.

If that’s not a symbol of Chiron ingressing Aries, I’m not sure what is.


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5 thoughts on “God Squads and Guys with Guns

  1. Glen Young

    Great astrology Amy, reminding me of a special someone who has Chiron in Aries inside her ninth house. Although some years to go before her Chiron Return, perhaps she will see me as an inconvenient benefic (Planet Waves | Guide to Books About Chiron – Eric Francis), instead of a bad guy.

    They voted to remove the Confederate Statues in Charlottesville, Va., in response some are flying immensely huge Confederate Flags along the Interstate highways; or elsewhere on private property. Again, Eric has gone into depth about this subject on Planet Waves FM, and gun ownership in Virginia.

  2. Geoff Marsh

    An excellent contribution, Amy.

    At the last healing-go-round when Chiron was perched on the cusp of Aries at 29 Pisces 49′, the British government passed legislation allowing two men, aged 21 or over, to fondle each other’s bodies in private. It was 1967 July 4, and the Americans had other business which made it a good day to bury bad news, perhaps.

    I mention this because one man’s love for another man has been a bête-noire of religions since before the invention of the gun. In fact, a man’s penis is sometimes referred to as his “gun,” and the process of “shooting” your lover, even if he does pull the trigger himself, is still considered a sin more mortal than killing a schoolkid or 17.

    We seem to have come a long way in the gay healing process since 1967, although I am not so blasé as to believe that such legislation could not be reversed at the flick of a Gilead. It may take another 50 years for similar awareness to come about regarding gun purchase and use within a civilian situation, but this, seemingly, is a blink of the eye in evolutionary terms.

    I can do nothing other than wish godspeed to the young travellers spreading their message for gun control. It is inconceivable to me that a government would do anything other than everything in its power to stop the brutal and senseless murder of its youth. It is a sad reflection of what mighty nations are currently imposing on the young of other countries such as Yemen and Libya while they play their ever-so-butch games of world domination.

    1. Geoff Marsh

      I can’t help but feel that the pace of learning is going to increase now thanks to the internet. Do we really want to wait another 50 years before there is consensus that shooting schoolkids is not what the 2nd Amendment was designed to permit?

      Now that our planet is moving into the domain of an air sign – the Age of Aquarius – the real problem will be in containing the New Puritanism which will seek to curtail liberalism, free speech and independent thought in order to maintain control of the population.

  3. Sue Edwards

    Thank You Amy. You are succinct in many ways.

    Does either group, gun advocates or evangelicals choose beliefs that are of benefit to the Whole of Humanity? No. There is no place for them in our Future.

    Which is why both groups are feeling threatened right now. It may take 3-4 generations (I Hope not), for beliefs such as theirs to be wiped off the face of the planet but it is happening.

    How long it takes depends on how proactive we are.

    My thinking has been along the lines that it time both groups were stopped cold in their tracks. They are seeking License not Liberty. Rights do not come without Responsibilities, that includes the right to gun ownership and right to religion.

    Neither group claims Responsibility for their Desires to kill. For gun advocates, the projectiles of the weapons in question do not make holes. They carve out cavities. For the Bible thumpers, their dogma kills other people’s individuality; their survival depends on conformity and sucking the life out of others.

    Both groups share a parasitic form relationship with the rest of Humanity.

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