April 24, 2024

Opinion: ‘Gun Control’ is a call for returning to the Stone Age

By Thomas L. Knapp

Last November, eleven-year-old Domonic Davis was killed, and five others were wounded, in a drive-by shooting in Cincinnati. “Federal investigators,” the Associated Press reports, “believe the 22 shots could be fired off with lightning speed because the weapon had been illegally converted to fire like a machine gun.”

Per the AP report, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) reported a 570 percent increase in the number of “conversion devices” — weapons modified for full automatic fire — seized between 2017 and 2021.

Why? Because with the advent of 3D printing and machining equipment that fits within both home garages and home hobbyist budgets, making a gun into a “machine gun,” or even making a gun from scratch, is getting easier and cheaper.

Cue cries of “there oughtta be a law” from the usual suspects.

There are many reasons for there not to be laws about the manufacture and possession of little bits of plastic or metal that might be used to make automatic weapons, starting with the fact that ownership of weapons is a sacred human right, followed by the fact that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution says any such laws are void, with the fact that such laws do not work and can never work in a distant third place.

At the moment, though, I’d like to focus on a fourth reason that’s as utilitarian as the third.

“Those who would outlaw weapons,” the late L. Neil Smith wrote, “must first outlaw the knowledge of weapons. And those who would outlaw the knowledge of weapons must outlaw knowledge itself.”

Specifically, knowledge of things like engineering, machining, and chemistry. Guns are, at this point, simple examples of those arts and sciences. While it’s been improved in various ways over time, the “machine gun” has been around since 1884. There’s no way to get rid of it without making everyone on the planet much poorer because even amateur engineers, machinists, and chemists would all have to be killed, no new ones trained, and all texts related to those fields consigned to fire.

Nor are guns the only practical application of Smith’s maxim.

Those who want to outlaw drugs must first outlaw, among other things, chemistry and horticulture.

Those who want to outlaw strong cryptography and cryptocurrency must first outlaw, among other things, math and computer science.

If it was even possible to get rid of guns, drugs, and crypto — it isn’t, but if it was — the politicians who want to do so would have to figure out how to get us to give up everything modern, from the bicycle to the automobile to the microcomputer to the smart phone to most of the food we eat to accomplish their objective.

They’d have to outlaw Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), the set of fields that they’re constantly complaining not enough students are going into.

Are you willing to let them take us down that road into a world where roads would no longer exist? If not, it’s time to give up the fantasy of “gun control.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.