Dartmouth Professor: Guns Have the Power to Turn People Evil

man in gun shop
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Dartmouth Professor Chesley L. Kivland argued in a column that guns have the power to turn people evil.

Kivland published a column in Pacific Standard magazine earlier this month that argued that guns have the power to turn people evil. Kivland, an expert on Haiti, drew on Haitian mythology to make the claim that gun “magic” influences a shooter’s decision to kill their victim.

When I asked Belairians why these deaths occurred, they often surmised that the gunmen fell victim to maji, or “magic.” In Haiti, magic refers to an unethical use of spiritual power, distinct from ceremonial forms of Vodou, which call on ancestors to heal and protect the family. (Vodou is the preferred spelling, rather than Voodoo, which some practitioners view as derogatory.) This form of magic entails engaging with secret powers that allow a person to advance at the expense of another. To many, the men died because the occult forces they had been using for unethical gain had ultimately turned against them—opening them up to conflict and failing to protect them…

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