Marvel’s the Punisher series has made it’s way to Netflix. I’m oddly happy to say the series is seemingly pro-gun in many ways. At worst it takes a somewhat balanced look at the gun debate. The Punisher as a character is explicitly tied to guns. Unlike other heroes in the Marvel universe, his skills aren’t dependent on a Shield, a flying robot suit, or getting angry. He uses guns, lots and lots of guns. He has no powers, and no animal themed gadgets he just shoots people. I mean look at all the cringe lords putting the Punisher Logo on their guns, or the amount of gear in the gun industry sporting the Punisher logo.
Punisher Spoilers Ahead
The gun debate doesn’t really come up until about halfway through the season and I visually sighed at first. Typically television and movies present such a one-sided and uninformed view of the gun debate that it’s soul-crushing. In the first few episodes, the fat white guy sporting NRA gear is spouting nonsense, so hopes were low. I was wrong.
We get three characters who each have a firm side in the gun debate.
One of the characters in the series, Karen, carries a gun every day and has a concealed carry permit. (The most fictional aspect is that she got a permit to carry in New York city. ) Karen represents the average gun owner well. A hard working normal person who simply wants a means to protect herself. The Marvel version of New York seems to be an exceptionally dangerous place.
Then we have the Anti-gun Senator who uses the same sound bites we in the gun debate hear daily. Blah blah blah common sense, blah blah blah backgrounds check…etc. He’s strictly anti-gun, except when it suits him.
Lastly, we have an extremist in the group. He bombs ATF buildings “In defense of the second amendment”. He threatens the life of Karen for refusing to agree with his extremism and the life of the Senator for being anti-gun.
Is The Punisher Pro Gun or just Anti Anti Gun?
Can a Punisher series really be anti gun? It would be hard to be that hypocritical, but Liam Neeson finds a way. Now the series takes subtle shots at the NRA in the early episodes. Immediately I felt discouraged. It’s not that I’m not willing to hear the other side of the gun debate, I just don’t want to be lectured by a tv show that uses guns to solve 99% of its character’s problems.
I kept watching and it paid off. We learn early of pistol carrying Karen and if you watch the Marvel series we know she knows how to use a gun. After the extremist commits a terrorist attack on an ATF building and sends a letter claiming it was due to the persecution of the second amendment we see the real debate start.
To catch this debate you need to watch Episodes 9 and 10.
The debate starts at a radio show with the Journalist and Senator discussing the bombing. The Senator finds it ironic that the bomber is using violence to stop what he calls ‘efforts to to reduce the murder rate in this country. He states ‘less guns, less death. That simple.’
It’s pointed out right after than he’s using bombs not guns. What’s important and what I want you to remember is what the radio hosts points out when he says ‘a local hero with a handgun puts a cap in this guys ass’. He follows with it’s ‘the right to put a cap in his ass is part of the foundation that America was built upon.’
When the senator looks to Karen for support she rightly points out that a gun can be used to defend life, and the senator has never been in the position where a gun has been the difference between stopping evil and dying.
At this point, I was surprised and intrigued. They weren’t taking a predictable route. The Senator comes of feeling scummy, and the radio host and Karen are quite relatable and reasonable. The Unhinged terrorist calls in, makes some threats and the scene ends.
Armed Security and Hypocrisy
Later on, the anti-gun senator looks to hire security, armed, of course, to protect him. There is an interesting conversation between the between the owner of the security company and the Senator. The Senator mentions it won’t look good if the attacker is killed with guns since he’s anti-gun. The owner of the security company asks if his principles are worth dying for. They are not.
Karen sits down with the anti gun senator and she says one of the best lines of the gun argument.
“Rhetoric and Real lives, those things are worlds apart. “
This is where the show really surprised me. It takes a measured and realistic argument that would come from the Pro Gun side. Karen makes good, solid points that resonated with me. I won’t repeat them all, and you should watch the show. One that stuck with wasn’t so much an argument but a forced admission.
It’s mentioned that Karen has a concealed carry license. The Senator quips that protecting her, “Should be society’s job.”
Her reply is wordless, she smugly looks at the armed, private security protecting the Senator and back at him. Effectively pointing out his hypocrisy. His reaction is also almost wordless, but they are interrupted. This is something many of us on the pro-gun side of the debate point out often. The people making the laws can afford to hire dudes with guns to protect them and people to hide behind. Most people can’t do that.
The extremist attacks and Karen reaches for her gun. Unfortunately, she was disarmed prior to meeting the Senator. She was put in a gun free zone. It shows that Karen, a law-abiding citizen will disarm, but the bad guys won’t. That’s like having to roll with disadvantage in DnD, you aren’t likely to come out on top. The Punisher shows up, things get crazy, and a firefight ensues.
Now, remember what I mentioned earlier? The ‘everyday joe’ line from the radio host. Karen, being the smart and resourceful woman she is grabbed a gun from a dead security guard and pursed it. She later uses that gun to injure the extremist and stop his attack.
She proved that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. The Punisher takes what I find to be a reasonable stance that presents both sides of the debate. Admittedly the debate is kind of shallow, and we can’t pull statistics, studies, and figures out without killing the pace of the show. It takes shots at the NRA in the beginning. It may have even been unintentional, but the Punisher is quite pro-gun, or at least it takes a stand against anti-gun nonsense. If anything, it angered a few anti-gun websites, so I could bask in mining their salt.