Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Gun Control Fails on a Technical Argument

The first thing you need to keep in mind is this: Everything necessary to make a working firearm is based on technology that is a century old or older.[1]

The second thing that you need to keep in mind is that the computers for machining parts, CNC machining, has become cheaper and cheaper. It is at the level of serious hobbyist use. Machining has gone from "slowly cutting off metal, measuring the piece, repeat until done" to "put a chunk of metal into the CNC mill and turn it on." There are people who have developed freeware CNC programs for several firearms.[2]

Third, there is a developing technology for printing parts. One hobbyist has successfully printed a lower receiver for an AR-15 and fired it. True, that receiver is made of plastic, but you could probably make an AR-15 lower receiver out of hardwood.[3] Still, does anyone doubt that 3-D printing of metal parts is not going to trickle down to the hobbyist level? [4]

If the technology to make a working firearm is there, what is to stop a criminal enterprise from going into that business if the demand is there? They refine cocaine from the plant precursor and transport it thousands of miles to the consumers. They make synthetic drugs. They drill tunnels to bypass border checkpoints. They build submarines to transport drugs. Can anyone truly claim that they can't make guns? The reason they don't, now, is because it makes no economic sense to incur the expense to set up hidden fabrication shops when they can buy/smuggle/steal everything that they want.[5]

I've seen the argument made that the better way is to try and control the sale of ammunition. I don't know of anyone who has seriously tried to home-brew all of the components of a cartridge, but given that, again, the technology involved is at a late 19th Century level, a criminal enterprise that can make drugs can likely make smokeless powder and priming compound.[6]

Ammunition control would fail for another reason: For most uses, criminals don't need to shoot many rounds. A successful armed robbery involves shooting nobody. When the robber wants to kill the clerk, that doesn't take many cartridges. A box of 25 rounds would likely be enough for the criminal use of a firearm for possibly as many years.

I know that there are people out there who would like to just ban EBRs, but that horse has long ago left the barn. Twenty years ago, if you wanted a mass-produced AR-15, you kinda sorta ended up with a Colt. Nowadays, it is probably easier to list the firearms companies that don't have an AR-style rifle in their catalog. You can buy a lower receiver, either with the trigger group or bare bones, and make your own. Millions of them have been made and sold.

Microstamping fails for the same reason that CoBis failed. Both registry systems only work to track semiautomatic handguns, as revolver shooters generally don't go around throwing about cartridge casings at crime scenes. A microstamp on a firing pin would be easily replaced in about 99% of all semiautos. As far as the breech face goes, a little bit of work with some fine sandpaper and that'd be gone, as well, or one can simply replace the slide.

The real point is that gun control fails because gun control laws are only effective against law-abiding people. It is already against the law to possess, let alone use, a firearm in the commission of a crime. A lot of states (and the Feds) tack on five years or more to the sentence if the perp had or used a gun.

But criminals still do what they do. Their biggest fear about firearms is not the sentencing enhancement, it is getting shot with one.
[1] Charles Taylor certainly could have made one in 1903 if the Wright Brothers had asked him to do so.
[2] All are autoloaders. The rest of the parts are far easier to procure (or make).
[3] For extended use, there might be a couple of places where a maker would want to install pin bushings.
[4] For hardware, yes, we are talking about an early form of replicators. They won't make the thing, but they'll make the parts.
[5] The Mexican cartels tend to favor fully-automatic weapons, which are not available in the U.S. To the extent that they convert them into machine guns, that proves my point.
[6] Especially if they don't care whether or not the primer residue is corrosive.


Improbable Joe said...

Ummm... the flaw in your logic is that criminals are law abiding citizens until they aren't. Just saying, they don't stamp "criminal" on you in 3rd grade.

Eck! said...

IJ: I think the flaw you found is specious. If you actually check the citizen gone bad is the minority and often its felons with guns
or teens with guns the later can be felons with their teen records sealed.

If you really feel that works then consider your car, it will not have a anti drunk device you will have to use. After all we don't know when you will become a drunk driver and kill someone.

The presumption of citizen gone bad is a very bad one as it's a negative defense. That being, we know your bad, you haven't done it yet.


BadTux said...

Well, by that logic Austria would be overrun with gun crime despite laws that outlaw everything except long guns except for military and police. Err, what's that you say? There were less than a dozen murders with guns in Austria last year and they were all done with long guns? Why the nerve of those Austrian criminals, not complying with your notions of how reality works!

Note that this isn't because of a lack of firearms manufacturing(Glock) capacity(Glock) in Austria(Glock). It's simply that it's so hard to get a handgun (and just as importantly, the ammunition), and the penalties for having one are so draconian, that criminals prefer to stick to criminal activities that don't require guns. If you want to be pickpocketed, go to Austria. Mugged at knifepoint, well, they'll do that too. Mugged at gunpoint... not so much.

BTW, most of the chemicals to make primer or nitrocellulose-based gunpowders are on various restricted lists -- you need to have a license and show a need before you'll be allowed to buy them, and various TLA's will stop by to make sure that you can account for your use of the substances. You can still make traditional saltpeter/sulphur/charcoal based black powder if you can find the sulphur somewhere, but somehow I doubt that criminals will be rushing out to mug people with flintlock derringers :).

Of course, all this is moot in the United States, because we already have hundreds of millions of guns in circulation and long porous borders that render the notion of border control ludicrous, not to mention that whole 2nd Amendment thing that is still part of the Constitution (if gun controllers want to repeal it, they should repeal it, instead of pretending it doesn't exist). Just wanted to poke fun at your notion that there are technological reasons why gun control couldn't work, when there are nations where it quite clearly does work despite all that.