Gunslingers were the highest authority in All-World, a parallel version of our own Earth. Their duty was to keep that world from "moving on" — the commonly used expression for collapsed of not only civilization but reality itself; originally they didn't have guns and formed an order of Knights, wielding swords and shields.
In All-World, they were considered natural leaders, peacekeepers, and mediators in disputes. But with that world running short of resources, especially metal, guns were few and far between; thus, the title of gunslinger could only be given to a select few. These people, all of them of noble blood and all but a very, very few males, were rigorously trained from the age of six for their role from early boyhood to adulthood, performing near-superhuman feats of strength, endurance, and concentration while also being taught the highest knowledge of their time. One could forsake his training and remain an aristocrat. If they did, they were free to stay in their homeland, but would never become a gunslinger. But one who did take the final test, single combat with his physical instructor, and failed it, would not be given a second chance. Rather, they would be disowned and sent west into exile. They believe that maintaining their own codes and culture is more important than the maintenance of the Affiliation, forgetting that Affiliation also is a symbol of the White as they are.
In Black House, Speedy's twinner Parkus reveals to Jack Sawyer that the Gunslingers of Gilead provide a special psychic force which is capable of countering the Crimson King 's breakers. Since Roland is the last alive in this line, his psychic force was able to keep the rest of the beams from completely collapsing. This psychic energy it starts to establish again when Eddie, Jake, Susannah become gunslingers. This is why in book 7, The Dark Tower, the beams start to regenerate.
A Gunslinger teaches his students the art of using their gun or other weapons, along with saying this:
I do not aim with my hand. He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye.
I do not shoot with my hand. He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind.
I do not kill with my gun. He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.
They are also taught to be as quick as Raf when drawing their gun
Rite of Passage
TEACHER: Have you come here for a serious purpose boy?
STUDENT: I have come for a serious purpose.
T: Have you come as an outcast from your father's house?
S: I have so come, and will remain so unless I best you.
T: Have you come with your chosen weapon?
S: I have.
T: What is your weapon?
The student then announces his weapon, (generally, any particular Master's weapon of choice is well known) and the challenge is begun. The only known limitation on choice of weapons is a restriction on the use of guns. The student has not earned the right to wear guns, and allowing the Master to use them would render the challenge impossible. There appears to be no other restriction - Roland used his hawk, David, for instance, and clubs, staves, and slings are listed common choices. Should the student prevail, they are traditionally given a key to open a vault where the guns are stored.
Start of the Novels
By the start of the first volume in The Dark Tower Series, All-World has moved on so far that "what was north one day, might be east the next" and what humanity there is, exists largely in a state of barbarism or mutation. Yet, one gunslinger remains in that world; Roland, a descendant of Arthur Eld, who for reasons unclear even to himself is on an unrelenting search for the legendary Dark Tower, the nexus of existence itself.
List of Gunslingers
- Aileen Ritter
- Alain Johns
- Alaric Deschain
- Burtock Hattlen
- Charles Champignon
- Christopher Johns
- Cuthbert Allgood
- Eddie Dean
- Jake Chambers
- Jamie De Curry
- Jayson Ritter
- Robert Allgood
- Roland Deschain
- Steven Deschain
- Susannah Dean
- Thomas Whitman
- Tim Stoutheart