Wednesday, August 01, 2018

That's Not How This Works

     Way Scarier If You're Ignorant Department: "Donald Trump will be totally responsible for every downloadable plastic AR-15 that will be roaming the streets of our country." --Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey, quoted in the New York Times.  It's almost fractally wrong.

      The reality is something else -- there are no undetectable plastic rifles and even the Defense Distributed 3-D printable one is only a smallish part to which a lot of big metal parts need to be attached, like a barrel, bolt and trigger assembly. There are no plastic versions of rifle barrels, period. There are no all-plastic bullets, period. There is a single-shot, mostly plastic handgun...but it needs a metal firing pin and metal bullets to be anything more than a paperweight.

      In a world where there are 3-D printers and thumbdrives (not to mention peer-to-peer file sharing over networks), this fight is already over. About all we can do is pass laws that are 21st-century versions of the 19th-century British law that required a man with a red flag had to precede the dangerous menace of horseless carriages to protect the public. Call me Pollyanna, but I think we'd make more progress, faster, if we set to work to fix the things that make a man want to harm his fellow men.

     Human life has never been worth more, over more of the world, than it is right now.  Not because we banned things, not because one particular religion is ascendant, not even because we're better people -- but more people are working at being better people, and more of them are better-off.  And more of them have the time to do this: they live longer, they're more literate, they're not having to spend every single minute just struggling to make it through the day.  Want a better world?  Figure out how to do more of that, for more people, without pushing down the ones who already have it.  It doesn't have to be a perfect answer.  It only has to be good enough.


Jerry said...

Actually plastic bullets and cartridge cases have been around for something like 40 years.

B said...

Preach it sister.

Roberta X said...

Jerry, those plastic cases won't hold up to any kind of powder load; they're powered by large pistol primers, which are made of what...?

There is polymer-cased rifle ammunition, or there has been...but it counts on the chamber and bolt/breechblock to retain the pressure. When that's plastic, too, first!

Density issues with a plastic bullet limit the kind of force they can deliver -- and while a dense plastic bullet probably won't trip a metal detector, it will show up in an X-ray at least as well as your bones. (Likewise the gun itself.)

If you can solve the primer issue without metal (tricky, but chemical engineering is a wonderful thing), you might be able to come up with a single-shot weapon roughly akin to, but of necessity larger than, a WW II GM "Liberator." At that point, I suppose the intrepid assassin has only to find, what, an Air Marshal or school security officer, take out him or her with one shot (and hope the gun won't blow up), then take that person's gun and commit mayhem? Not seeing anything there you couldn't do with a ball peen hammer or even a sturdy broomstick. Guess we will need to worry about undetectable plastic ball peeen hammers and plastic knives next. No doubt the British already are.

Old NFO said...

Well said! And agreed!