Is there anything a gun can’t do? Not only do they pull their own triggers and kill people, but they can also control your mind.

Yes, let’s check it out:

Taking seriously the supernatural effects of guns has broad relevance for understanding and addressing gun violence globally. In the U.S., gun advocates tend to view the gun as a value-neutral tool. As they say: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” On the other side are gun control advocates who argue that guns do indeed kill people: Without their lethal power easily at hand, as in other countries, far fewer deaths occur. But the anthropological lesson from Haiti is that the truth is more complex. It isn’t just the technological lethality of guns that makes them dangerous: They also exert a power on human agency. They change us. It is both the technology and the symbolism of a gun that can encourage someone to shoot.

The gun in these accounts served not just as a tool that enabled pre-existing intentions but as a catalyst for the development of previously inconceivable ones. The supernatural potency of the gun is its power to lay out new possibilities.

A gun is not just an inanimate object that can be separated from its user’s intentions. A gun held by a person is a human-technology composite that transforms what both can do in the world. As the philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour has argued: “You are another subject because you hold the gun; the gun is another object because it has entered into a relationship with you. … A bad guy becomes a worse guy; a silent gun becomes a fired gun.” The crux of this view is that people are needed to activate technology, and technology is necessary to activate and augment human capacities.

Yet [residents of Bel Air in Port-au-Prince, Haiti]s’ accounts push this idea even further. Guns and people work together not only to fire a gun but also to imbue that technology with social meanings of power and violence. The potency of the .38 results from the way in which material objects and people must co-participate in creating lethal actors and actions in the world.

TL;DR version: Guns have supernatural ability to fundamentally transform people’s minds and turn them into murderers. Clearly the anthropologist who pieced the truth together is someone we should all take very, very seriously.

Parting pro-tip:

Recommended Twitchy Video