The Walking Dead really displays the endurance of American gun culture. Cuz those things are fucking noisy, and noise attracts zombies. But they are still almost the only ranged weapons throughout the entire series–and NOBODY thinks that this is weird!

Hardly any characters, and only one recurring character, uses something sensible and quiet like a cross bow. Nobody’s raiding sporting goods stores for those.

Production of bows and arrows in general is going to be much easier than restarting any gun industry (even a primitive one), since bows require no more than wood and sinews. Guns require, at a minimum, metal, which means refinement at high temperatures before smithing, even if it’s recycled, and the raw materials have to be mined, but the show takes place in a mainly wooded region whose forests are not under threat from huge logging conglomerates. Sooner or later scavenging is just not going to do it, and some kind of weapons industry is going to be necessary. Wooden projectiles would be significant early on and probably for a long time. The knowledge is surely available in libraries, and maybe even a hobbyist or two has survived with the foresight to share—well, no, they’ll see an opportunity to share something they are super geeky about and they’ll seize it with quivering hands. The raw materials can be harvested and shaped by the same individual, and even partial success can still be useful—for example, a poorly constructed bow that might not penetrate a walker skull could still fire a flaming arrow, or at least something that can be launched silently that makes noise far away from the archer. But we saw Eugene’s bullet stopped easily by a wooden bat, and no one on the show seems to be carrying silencers.

Even when guns are taken away, nobody thinks to research any kind of weaponcraft—Eugene just already knows things, and even his knowledge needs practice and improvement. Granted that’s a significant time investment, but sooner or later they will have to make it. But not even Eugene ever suggests it. The only effective weapon anyone’s crafted so far with their own hands is a staff–a melee weapon.

That’s not to say they aren’t ever (or even frequently?) in situations where guns would be better, but there are several times on the show when they were a proven liability. The characters even recognize and make explicit reference to this, and the show never conceals or ignores the effect of the noise. But. If you want to drop a walker from a distance, you gotta make noise doing it. Doing it quiet means up close. It’s like the law.

And I guess it increases tension–it imposes limits on the characters and makes things more dangerous–but what stands out about it is that nooooobody is weirded out by this.

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One Response to

  1. Shhhhhhh. *pats your arm* Just let them have their guns. They’re Americans. They neeeeeeed them.

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