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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Column: Unlimited ammo

Lets face it — gun control is useless. Woah woah, hold your horses, you say. We need gun control laws to prevent all of the recent gun-related tragedies of late from happening again. Well, I agree with half of that statement, but the individuals who are proposing more stringent gun laws are forgetting the most important part of the whole situation: gun control laws will be useless because criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. We do need gun control laws, but not because they will actually change anything.

Humans love decisive action; it’s in our genes. When we have a problem, we need to fix it. But let’s think about this seriously for a minute. Will new gun control laws actually change anything? Is it the result of new laws that we are craving, or is it simply the act of taking action that we crave?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe wholeheartedly that new gun control laws are required. However, these new laws will be more of a gesture than an actual tangible change. Taking action is more important to us than the actual results of those actions. And even though new laws will no doubt get passed, they will be wishy-washy, feel-good laws meant to appease the peacemongers while also not pissing off the gun-toting Second Amendment enthusiasts.

Some people are of the opinion that common-sense gun laws will prevail in the end. But as the saying goes, common sense isn’t so common these days.

The dolphin-saving, salmon-eating hypocritical liberals want a full-blown gun ban. That is not going to happen. The right-to-life-ing, lethal-injecting hypocritical conservatives are worried that any new gun laws will lead us down a slippery slope to a full ban. Looking at the history of Clinton’s assault weapon ban, the conservatives have just as little to worry about as the liberals do.

That isn’t to say that there are no available options. Obviously, a nationwide firearm confiscation project along with strict punishments for anyone caught owning a weapon would greatly curb the number of gun-related incidents, both accidental and purposeful, every year. Individuals who were truly set on murdering someone would just resort to beating people to death with baseball bats, and no politician in America would even dream of trying to regulate or ban baseball bats.

Another interesting facet of the situation that is being ignored is the proliferation of at-home weapons fabrication. In recent years, 3D printing has moved from purely industrial applications into the consumer market where hobbyists can design and produce nearly any object they desire. Originally, these printed objects were weak and fragile, but as technology has progressed, the strength of home-fabricated objects has increased to the point that NASA has considered using 3D printers in the International Space Station so produce any part that needs repairing.

New 3D printers actually use powdered metal, formed and shaped through a process called Electron Beam Melting, that can make objects as solid as titanium, accurate down to micron accuracy, and has the ability to “print” moving parts. All an individual has to do is download a 3D model of a fully automatic weapon from the internet, click print and their printer will literally create a fully operational weapon within a few hours. People can even print their own ammunition, and modify the designs themselves.

So now what? Guns are not going to get banned, and any new laws that are enacted will do little, or nothing, to stop violence via firearms. On top of that, even if guns were completely banned, a determined individual could still get a hold of deadly firearms fairly easily by manufacturing it themselves.

Who do we blame? Who do we point the finger at and name as the cause of all these troubles? Since the gunmen often die during their rampages, the desire to assign blame ends up targeting things that have no business being targeted.

Video games get lots of bad press for desensitizing our youth to the cost of reckless violence. This is a weak argument at best. Japan has video games. They play more than we do. Canadians also have video games. In fact, one could even argue that video games offer a harmless outlet for aggression. If we look at countries with restricted access to violent media, the violent crimes are often far more heinous.

Poor countries like Honduras, Uganda, Myanmar and Burkina Faso have some of the highest murder rates on Earth with intentional homicide rates between 15 and 20 per 100,000 people. On the other hand, the United States has a rate of just five intentional homicides per 100,000 people. Canada’s rate is far below at 1.6 per 100,000, and Japan has a rate of just 0.4 per 100,000.

Perhaps what we need is not a reduction in the variety of methods one can use to kill someone, but instead, a reduction in the number of reasons one has to kill another. Poverty, bad education, unemployment, poor mental health … these are the culprits that we should be pointing the blame finger at. Perhaps the reason why none of these issues have been addressed is that we simply do not yet know how to fix them.

HUDSON LOFCHIE can be reached at science@theaggie.org.


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