Created By: zibbazabba905 on October 6, 2011 Last Edited By: zibbazabba905 on October 8, 2011

Guns Are Rare

Where the rarity of firearms elevates them to game breaker status

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Title Rolling Updates

Old title: Oh, right, its not in America...

This is when the setting of the work is in a place where firearms are rare or illegal, (due to legislation, culture, or just lack of supply) and

When someone acquires one somehow, it's elevated to game breaker status. or Someone states/shows that they "don't know how to use" a firearm.

See Fantasy Gun Control for settings where they don't exist at all, Doesn't Like Guns when someone refuses to use one for moral reasons. If everybody has guns in a setting where they shouldn't, such as if you have a show taking place in modern day Britain where everybody is packing glocks, that would instead be We All Live in America.

This trope is intended to be about settings where the rarity of firearms (due to legislation, culture, or just lack of supply) elevates even modest firearms to Game Breaker status in most confrontations if a character is able to acquire one somehow.

It should be specified that it counts only in the context of an action-oriented work where one might expect people to be carrying weapons. In a movie where no one is a gun toting badass, if someone suddenly popped up brandishing a gun--like say, in a hospital because until this point we thought we were watching a medical drama--people would freak out, even in the movies. America isn't this country of crazies where everyone caries a gun at all times and the sight of someone with one in public wouldn't be met with trepidation. Yes, a larger portion of the population owns guns than many countries. No, a large portion of the population doesn't go around threatening people with them on a regular basis to the point that people dismiss the image of someone with a gun as intimidating.

If everybody has guns in a setting where they shouldn't, such as if you have a show taking place in modern day Britain where everybody is packing glocks, that would instead be We All Live In America (a trope where people forget that other countries operate differently from the US in a myriad of different ways.)

(This is my first time trying to do one of these, so sorry if the formatting is wrong or I'm just moving other peoples text around trying to flesh out the trope)
Anime
  • In Highschool of the Dead resident gun-nut Kohta has to explain to Takashi how to use a shotgun.
  • In Death Note, when Weddy(foreign) offers Soichiro a gun, he mentions he is no longer a policeman and that she should not be carrying it either

Literature
  • Men at Arms revolves around a murder plot using "the gonne," the only firearm on the Discworld.

Films
  • In Shaun of the Dead Shaun and Ed argue over whether or not the Winchester that gives its name to the pub works or not.
  • In Snatch., Bullet-tooth Tony (and his friend Desert Eagle, .50) terrorize some small-time thugs by comparing whats written on the sides of their guns (replica).
  • In Death Wish, Bronson, while badass and highly skilled, is virtually the only one with a gun in the city's underbelly, while everyone else is holding 3-inch blades.
  • In Seven Samurai, the bandits have a musket, in Japan in 1587. This is the only way they manage to kill any of the samurai, and it lets them kill four of them.
  • On The 2001 Remake of the Planet of the Apes, Heston warns his son, general Thaded about how humans are are not to be taken lightly and shows him a gun(the apes on the movie seem to be at medieval or lower level of technology)
Heston : What you hold in your hand is proof of their [men's] power...against which our strength means nothing. It has the force of a thousand spears.

Video Games
  • In EP 7 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni There is a Mexican Standoff that's cut short because only one party knows how to properly cock the rifles.
  • In Bushido Blade, the Final Boss has a six-shooter as his secondary weapon. Due to the game's emphasis on realistic combat with no Hit Points, it's easily a One-Hit Kill.
  • In La-Mulana, it is possible to acquire a six-shooter somewhere in the game. It's a One-Hit Kill against anything short of a boss, but the ammunition is very expensive.

Tabletop Games:
  • Over the Edge: the island where the game takes place is ruled by government that bans guns and explosives.

Real Life
  • In Feudal Japan (and I think also in China), IIRC, there was a time period where only certain social classes were allowed to carry certain weapons, and those that did usually had extensive training. Of course we're talking katanas, not guns, but it had a similar effect. The other effect it had is it led to the development of martial arts to make those fighting with their bare hands or with improvised weapons becoming arguably just as badass as the weapon users.
    • It's called "katana-gari" (sword hunt). Which was explicitly performed to make clear who's the boss - Japanese warlords weren't nice chaps, but weren't hypocrites either. And at times and places included things like "one knife per village, chained at the butchery shop". The main effect of course was giving birth to tons of Improvised Weapon ideas and their optimizations (grain flail - nunchaku, etc).
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • October 6, 2011
    TwinBird
    ...this is just an anti-American rant.

    I mean, how often does anyone ask "why people don't just shoot the antagonist" outside a martial or underworld setting? When the hell would you have to explain "why everybody freaks out when a gun is pulled"?
  • October 6, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Yeah, I mean outside of a firing range, or hunting, or a gun store or someplace like that, people do tend to freak out when someone draws a weapon, even in America. And if the gun is pointed at you, it doesn't matter how small it is or how much of a wimp the guy holding it is. You are still in danger.
  • October 6, 2011
    AFP
    Well, the trope as presented doesn't really seem anti-American, but the name is pretty much all off.

    Maybe something like Guns Are Rare for a title? Might still be conflated with Rare Guns, which is not what this is getting at.
  • October 6, 2011
    AFP
    I think (and tell me if I'm all off here) that the trope is intended to be about settings where the rarity of firearms (due to legislation, culture, or just lack of supply) elevates even modest firearms to Game Breaker status in most confrontations if a character is able to aquire one somehow.

    If everybody has guns in a setting where they shouldn't, such as if you have a show taking place in modern day Britain where everybody is packing glocks, that would instead be We All Live In America (a trope where people forget that other countries operate differently from the US in a myriad of different ways.)
  • October 7, 2011
    zibbazabba905
    I think (and tell me if I'm all off here) that the trope is intended to be about settings where the rarity of firearms (due to legislation, culture, or just lack of supply) elevates even modest firearms to Game Breaker status in most confrontations if a character is able to aquire one somehow.

    Yes, thats exactly what I'm trying to say! Also combine with the idea of people not knowing how to use guns

    In Highschool of the Dead Kohta has to explain to Takashi how to use a shotgun

    In EP 7 of Umineko There is a Mexican Standoff that's cut short because only one party knows how to properly cock the rifles

  • October 7, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Name is no good IMHO because it (1) sounds like dialog which is a pet peeve of Fast Eddie, and (2) it will be mistaken for complaining about gun laws / countries you don't like

    Real Life
    • In Feudal Japan (and I think also in China), IIRC, there was a time period where only certain social classes were allowed to carry certain weapons, and those that did usually had extensive training. Of course we're talking katanas, not guns, but it had a similar effect. The other effect it had is it led to the development of martial arts to make those fighting with their bare hands or with improvised weapons becoming arguably just as badass as the weapon users.
  • October 7, 2011
    Antigone3
    Seconding Guns Are Rare
  • October 7, 2011
    Damr1990
    ^even in modern Japan The use of Weapons is only allowed for police/Military forcesl, an example of that is given on Death Note when Weddy(foreign) offers Soichiro a gun, he mentions he is no longer a policeman and that she should not be carrying it either, there's even a anime(i don't remember wich one) where the basic premise that after the goverment allowed the public to own weapons it went distopyc(and Out Of Proportions]) shortly after
  • October 7, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    If this trope is indeed made, it should be specified that it counts only in the context of an action-oriented work where one might expect people to be carrying weapons. In a movie where no one is a gun toting badass, if someone suddenly popped up brandishing a gun--like say, in a hospital because until this point we thought we were watching a medical drama--people would freak out, even in the movies. America isn't this country of crazies where everyone caries a gun at all times and the sight of someone with one in public wouldn't be met with trepidation. Yes, a larger portion of the population owns guns than many countries. No, a large portion of the population doesn't go around threatening people with them on a regular basis to the point that people dismiss the image of someone with a gun as intimidating.

    That being said, I know a lot of anime where this trope shows up. In an American show, we would expect the local organized crime ring to carry guns. In Anime, if someone from the local organized crime ring, like say, the Yakuza, pulls a gun, it's treated like it's an atomic bomb or something. The guy's own people would flip out over it.

  • October 7, 2011
    nman
    How about a title like "Not in Texas anymore"? Or maybe Arizona?

    I was just watching Death Wish a few days ago, and Bronson, while badass and highly skilled, is virtually the only one with a gun in the city's underbelly, while everyone else is holding 3-inch blades.
  • October 7, 2011
    AFP
    In fact, let's just remove the America stuff, except maybe a reference to the fact that while many action films are made in America, where it is relatively easy to get a firearm (depending on many various things such as which state or town you happen to be in), it is in fact much less likely for someone to have such a weapon in, say, Japan or England.
  • October 7, 2011
    zibbazabba905
    I guess I only put the America stuff in there because I really like this setting, but its almost impossible to use it in American works because of our gun culture.
  • October 7, 2011
    TBTabby
    Men at Arms revolves around a murder plot using "the gonne," the only firearm on the Discworld.
  • October 7, 2011
    TairaMai
    Tabletop Games:
    • Over the Edge: the island where the game takes place is ruled by government that bans guns and explosives.
  • October 7, 2011
    Micah
    • In Seven Samurai, the bandits have a musket, in Japan in 1587. This is the only way they manage to kill any of the samurai, and it lets them kill four of them.
  • October 8, 2011
    TBeholder
    @ FrodoGoofballCoTV it's called "katana-gari" (sword hunt). Which was explicitly performed to make clear who's the boss - Japanese warlords weren't nice chaps, but weren't hypocrites either. And at times and places included things like "one knife per village, chained at the butchery shop". The main effect of course was giving birth to tons of Improvised Weapon ideas and their optimizations (grain flail - nunchaku, etc).
  • October 8, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Do these count?

    • In Bushido Blade, the Final Boss has a six-shooter as his secondary weapon. Due to the game's emphasis on realistic combat with no Hit Points, it's easily a One Hit Kill.
    • In La Mulana, it is possible to acquire a six-shooter somewhere in the game. It's a One Hit Kill against anything short of a boss, but the ammunition is very expensive.
  • October 8, 2011
    Damr1990
    Heston : What you hold in your hand is proof of their [men's] power...against which our strength means nothing. It has the force of a thousand spears
  • October 8, 2011
    Maklodes
    Regarding feudal Japan, in Edo-era Japan it goes further than that. While firearms were widespread in Japan in the late 16th century, once the Tokugawa shogunate was firmly in power, they not only barred non-samurai from wearing swords, but they barred pretty much everyone including samurai from using guns. However, while they were effective, it would be an exaggeration to say that the crude arquebuses Sengoku-era Japan were gamebreakers compared to contemporary bows.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=pydggf4ydlodjlr5cnyolrq2