Weapons are a tool. Whether made of steel or wood or stone or something else, weapons are made for offense and defense. With few exceptions, weapons are made to kill. They are deadly. Make no mistake about that.
But putting aside the political discussions concerning weapons of all types, I’d like to talk about weapons in the hands of heroes, real heroes and their fictional counterparts.
First off, carrying a weapon does not make someone a hero. It might make them prepared, and it might make them potentially dangerous, but simply packing a firearm or even a knife or sword does not make a person a hero. Bad guys carry guns and blades, too, and they intend to use them for nefarious purposes. So having that Glock or that Albion longsword at hand doesn’t automatically make an individual a hero. It might make them feel empowered, but that’s a different matter.
What truly makes a hero is their morality. I’m not going to go into a long philosophical talk here about morality and cultural differences, etc., nor am I going to go into a lengthy definition of what makes a hero. But generally speaking, most of us can agree that a true hero is someone who acts upon strong morals when called upon. Often in the real world it is the seeming average person who answers the call to be a hero, who enters a burning building to save someone, who climbs inside an upturned vehicle to pull someone free, and so on. Sometimes those heroes make use of weapons, generally when dealing with a deadly situation. But again, having the weapon alone does not make someone a hero. It depends on how they use a weapon, or maybe even how they don’t use a weapon.
In the fictional world, too often we seem to associate heroic figures with their weapons. James Bond is known for his Walther PPK. Dirty Harry is recognized for his .44 Magnum. William Wallace is known for the great sword he swung. Admittedly Wallace is a historic figure, but I’m focusing upon the fictional representations of him.
But their weapons do not make those fictional figures heroes. Often enough James Bond saves the day without his Walther PPK. Dirty Harry handled more than a few bad situations without having to draw his Magnum. William Wallace won more hearts off the battlefield than he did on it with his massive blade.
These fictional characters are heroes to readers and viewers not because of the weapons utilized, but because they were standing up against the vileness of the world to do what’s right. Weaponry was only a part of it, and not the part that concerned matters of the heart.
Admittedly an action hero without a gun or sword would have a difficult time facing down villains who are carrying weapons, but tales of such do occur from time to time. It’s not that the weapons are good or bad, for weapons are inanimate objects without a morality of their own, but how they are used and why they are used.
It is up to the individual, not the weapons themselves.
Morality makes heroes. Weapons by themselves can’t have a morality. Thus weapons alone can’t make a hero.
Now if someone wants to argue the availability of weapons and how they affect society and the world, that’s fine, but I’m not talking the political side of things here and this isn’t really the time or place. I’m not talking about society. I’m talking about the individual, the real and the fictional.
To be fair, there is at least one fictional character I can think of who is pretty much defined by his weapon, and that is Elric of Melnibone, the albino emperor who wields the soul-stealing sword Stormbringer. Over time Stormbringer becomes almost synonymous with Elric, giving Elric great strength and power but also cursing Elric by taking away everything and everyone he loves. But this is the only such character I can think of. There must be others, so please bring them to mind if you think of them.
Back to my point. All in all, what I’m really trying to say is that while weapons can add a certain cool factor to a story for some readers, it is the heroes themselves we should be focused upon. For instance, a lightsaber might look awesome on the big screen, but it’s the figures who stand behind those glowing blades who really make the difference in the end. The lightsaber is merely a tool, and while it should be respected as a weapon, we should always keep in mind that how that weapon is used depends upon the individual wielding it.