Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Gun Control: Bruce, Jason, and Alfred

This topic comes up from time to time. We all know Batman is anti-gun yet some of his allies are seen with them. Dick Grayson for example already has a bit of a controversy for using a gun in his upcoming book although he has carried one when he was a police officer in the old canon. Where is the line drawn? Batmans' view on guns--whether their lethal or not--keeps changing story to story.

Usually Batman is fine with the police using them to do their job (although he still disliked the idea of Dick potentially using one.) He has trained his students to learn how to use the weapon for better understanding of what their up against. Jason Todds' time as Robin was interesting in this regard. Death of the Family has flashbacks of his training after his death and sure enough Bruce shows him how to fire a gun.

During the whole Manhunter mess (you know that thing) Batman had to deal with his own which leads to Jason holding off reinforcements with a shotgun. Which makes his statement from The Cult odder still.

After Bruce was taken in by Deacon Blackfires' cult Jason manages to help him escape. They flee to Wayne Manor then prepare for the fight to take back Gotham. To do this Bruce plans on using tranquilizer guns and Jason says how strange it is for them to use guns. Readers of the new 52 will probably recall Scott Snyders' flash forward to Harper Rows' new ID as Blue Bird where she uses a special gun Batman is against. The gun isn't a conventional weapon and isn't used to kill yet Batman still objects? He was teaching his kids to use the weapons to at least know how they work and based his whole plan in The Cult around non-lethal guns. Then we have the one member of his family I've never seen Bruce object to wielding it, Alfred. I can't recall this ever being explained although it's accepted that he's allowed to use it for protection despite how his employer feels.

Now Alfred has a bit of history that varies depending on the canon. Sometimes he's someone that used to work in the field prior to working for the Waynes. Dini had him acting as something of a body guard for Thomas. There may have been an agreement between Thomas, Martha and him that he'd carry protection to use as he saw fit. Bruce may have respected that agreement since it was made with his parents. Whatever the reason it's never questioned when Alfred is seen carrying a shotgun. Booster Gold fans know he's willing to fire it as he shot Rip Hunter (not shown where he was shot although he lived through the ordeal. Then again time travel.)

When Jason returns as the Red Hood the guns are a big deal, their basically a symbol of him picking up the opposite ideology of Bruce. In the relaunch it's not as big of a deal anymore. Of course in these situations it's usually when Bruce wants something from his former sidekick. In Batman and Red Hood #20 he literally holds out the holsters asking Jason to suit up because he's "seeing red." When working together he reminds him not to aim to kill and the request is obeyed. Jason doesn't usually use them to take a life while working with the bats or when he's in Gotham. Is that why Alfred has some leeway? As long as he doesn't kill?

Curiously Jasons' guns haven't been seen in comics for awhile as writers have taken to having him favor his swords. I think this may have to do with Dick taking them up. Regardless I'd like to see this explored more in comics.


  1. Guns and Batman do seem like an odd combination. But I guess it all depends upon the writer, which can lead to some rather...odd bits of continuity.

  2. I've always been opposed to those grappling hook launchers that Bats has been using ever since 1989s movie (in which he had equipped his car with dual machine guns). Those are essentially handguns, as demonstrated in the New 52 relaunch. Is the character only opposed to the use of gunpowder?

  3. Sally: It does. I wish there was more consistently but then again Bruce does change his opinion often.

    Boosterrific: I believe there was a issue of Batman in the new 52 (I can't remember which) where he fired a grappling hook into Scarecrows' jaw. I'm kind of surprised it didn't kill Craine. Oh yeah I saw scans during the Worlds Finest crossover where we learn that Bruce is apparently against arming the Batwing with weapons too. Which doesn't make sense in case of superpower being attacking.