The US darkmap is getting bloodier

The debate over gun violence and mass shootings in the US has covered all points of view, statistics, opinions and policy proposals, but has ignored innovation as an angle to solve the rising death toll due to guns. When innovation and technology have been brought into the conversation it’s been limited to ideas like smart guns or better ways to ID people who should be prevented from owning a gun. That’s not innovation, that’s incrementalism. Consider how we have solved other large scale issues plaguing large segments of our world’s population:

  • Transportation: in order for mankind to be able to travel thousand of miles or transport goods across the planet, mankind didn’t work on making our feet bigger or extend our horses’ endurance. We invented steam locomotives and airplanes, completely changing the paradigm for ways to get from A to B.
  • Calculation: when faced with ever-increasing complexity for calculating large amounts of data, mankind didn’t build a bigger abacus or increase the speed of counting machines. We invented transistors and modern computers and created a whole new discipline (programming) to allow a new order of magnitude calculation power.
  • Medication: bloodsuckers, healthy diets or spa treatments used to be the method of choice for keeping people healthy. Then mankind discovered penicillin, pasteurizing food and x-rays. New discoveries in medication in the past 100 years has extended human life expectancy x-fold, and that’s not because of incremental changes to people’s care.

Now these are all strong examples of real innovation. How could we apply the same scale of innovation to gun violence? Here’s a few examples:

  • Neutralize guns: the technology behind guns has not fundamentally changed since its inception (create gun powder explosion to fire lethal projectile). New technology can be developed that impedes firing of the gun by its target or prevents it from combusting to begin with.
  • Make target immune to bullets: force fields or embedded bullet-proof tissue has become less of a science fiction staple thanks to advances in magnetic field applications and biotechnology for engineered human tissue.

When we invested enough time, money and commitment on developing rocket ships to travel in space we accomplished a feat previously believed to be the exclusive domain of fantasy or SciFi novels. As absurd as some of the ideas sound for innovation to eliminate gun violence, they are 100% achievable provided efforts are dedicated to them. And then imagine the scale of the impact: guns would become irrelevant, a whole set of industries and death traders would collapse, the balance of power between individuals and nations would be distributed much more evenly, and human kind would have taken an enormous bite out of evil.

Mass gun violence in the US since 1966 (size of each circle represents # of victims)

Some will argue that neutralizing gun violence will only provide a temporary reprieve, quickly replaced by other available means for humans to harm each other. But if that were true the death toll of knife violence, poisoning, strangulation etc. would long have caught up with guns. Nothing compares to the ease of doing lethal damage to another human as doing it with guns.

It’s time humankind woke up to the aberration of gun technology and it’s impact on our children’s future. Let’s innovate the heck out of protecting human life from the harm of guns and vanquish it forever from the face of our planet.

It’s time to stop poking at the fringes of the gun violence problem and instead develop an impenetrable shield against violence.

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