In a recent article, I explored the very real danger represented by edged weapons, particularly, swords. Many readers are, I’m sure, familiar with the Tuelller Drill. In 1983, police officer Dennis Tueller conducted research that revealed that an assailant armed with a knife can close 21 feet and inflict deadly wounds on a police officer before he can draw, fire and hope to stop the attacker. Obviously, a sword-armed attacker can do the same at greater distance or in a shorter time due to the length of their blade . . .
It might seem counterintuitive to some–particularly if they reflexively consider the Second Amendment a menace–but this knowledge absolutely refutes one of the fundamental gun control arguments: without guns, violence would be greatly reduced or eliminated. Some phrase their anti-liberty desires to suggest that if there were no guns, there would be no gunshot deaths.
If all firearms could magically be made to vanish, this would likely be true, but absent such magic, there is no doubt that only the law-abiding would or could be disarmed. Only criminals and governments would retain firearms, and history reveals gunshot deaths would continue at very high levels; only the people doing the shooting would change. Governments with a monopoly on lethal force inevitably use it against their citzens, as there is nothing to restrain their worst impulses. And of course, criminals are always armed as they please.
Just for the sake of argument, let us consider what a world without firearms would be like. Would violence really be substantially reduced?
Gunpowder was invented in China around 850 AD. Prior to that, and for some time thereafter, firearms weren’t possible; none existed. The first recorded use of a handgun-like weapon was probably in the 1360s, and matchlocks did not become somewhat common until the 1400s. Even though long guns were available in the 1400s, the British did not immediately adopt them for war, preferring the longbow, which was generally more accurate and reliable and could fire far more projectiles in a given period of time. It would take the invention of more reliable lockwork and rifled barrels before firearms became truly useful and popular. This did not, however, in any way lessen the bloodshed in war and otherwise.
At the battle of Marathon in 490 BC, as many as 6600 were killed within five days using weapons no more modern than spears and swords. At the battle of Actium in 31 BC, using the same kinds of weapons, as many as 7500 were killed in a single day. At the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, as many as 6000 died in a day. At the battle of Agincourt in 1415 between 7100 and 10,500 died. All of these men were killed and wounded without the use of firearms. Their most advanced personal projectile weapons were bows, but edged and blunt trauma producing weapons accounted for much of the casualty total.
It takes only seconds and an Internet connection to find thousands of people contemporarily killed or wounded with knives, but to extend the argument just a bit further, consider these cases of damage caused by people wielding swords, only a few found with a very brief and casual Google search.
“A 21-year-old Cheyenne man who robbed a local convenience store with a samurai sword in January was sentenced to probation Thursday.
Jeremy P. Stinger pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon Sept. 30…
Stinger entered the Kum-N-Go on East Lincolnway, pulled a sword from his long coat and demanded money from the teller. After handing Stinger the money from the register, the clerk, Brandon Glicco, attempted to thwart Stinger’s escape inside the store. Glicco’s hand was injured during the altercation when Stinger swung the sword at him before leaving, according to court documents.”
“U.S. police are investigating a mysterious crime wave in Pittsburgh of offences carried out by ninjas.
The spate of crimes continued after a sword-wielding ninja smashed 11 cars in the city before attempted to stab a man who confronted him, according to police.
Residents in the South Union Township area of the city said they heard glass breaking and found a ninja hiding in a yard.
The unknown ninja offender then cut one man in the hand as he made his escape.”
“Police say they found samurai swords in a search of the home Thursday where a 73-year-old woman and her 75-year-old husband were stabbed to death.
Police say the swords were used to kill the couple in what DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander described as a “horrific scene” inside the suburban Atlanta home. The bodies were found inside the bedroom by a relative who visited their house Thursday afternoon.
Police spokeswoman Mekka Parish says the couple’s 39-year-old son was identified as a suspect and was found at a nearby park less than two hours after his parents’ deaths were reported.”
“A husband and wife have been stabbed with a sword in a domestic dispute at a Connecticut water pipe smoking lounge.
Police identify the injured couple as George Ayoub and Najeh Frehi.
Ayoub owns the 1001 Arabian Nights Hookah Lounge in West Hartford, where he was found early Wednesday with stab wounds…
Police say they received a 911 call from Ayoub at about 3:15 Wednesday morning. He told dispatchers his wife stabbed him.
Police say a sword was found at the scene.
Police Capt. Donald Melanson says authorities don’t know who the aggressor was but describe the stabbing as domestic violence.”
Edged weapons—swords–may also be used in self-defense:
“2009: A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a suspected burglar in a garage behind his off-campus home early Tuesday, hours after someone broke in and stole electronics.
Some shocked neighbors said they heard bloodcurdling screams in an area just blocks from the university. Police held the student, a junior chemistry major who turns 21 on Sunday, for several hours, but no charges were filed by early afternoon, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Around 1:20 a.m., the student heard noises behind the home and noticed a door to the garage was open, Guglielmi said. He grabbed the sword and confronted the intruder — identified by police as Donald D. Rice, 49, a habitual offender who had just been released from jail.
Rice was crouching beneath a counter, police said. The student asked him what he was doing and threatened to call police.
‘When he said that, the suspect lunged at him, kind of forced the kid against the wall, and he struck him with the sword,’ Guglielmi said.
Rice’s left hand was nearly severed — Guglielmi described it as ‘hanging on by a thread’ — and he suffered a severe cut to the upper body. He died at the scene.”
The wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan have taught many lessons, but one is particularly applicable to this issue: even essentially medieval craftsmen can produce modern firearms. Afghan craftsmen, with minimal tools and resources, can and do build functional AK pattern rifles.
Consider this passage from a 1922 book regarding Afghan gun makers:
“The villages of the pass are famed for a strange industry — the manufacture entirely by hand of rifles and ammunitions, especially rifles, to the eye so like the products of European arsenals as to deceive all but experts. For these, since they are comparatively cheap and serviceable, there is a ready sale all along the border.”
Fast forward to 2012:
“We met a local gunsmith, Farid Shah from Zarghoon Khel, Darra. This man has a workshop set inside his small shop and has a single helper. ‘I produce Kalashinkov (AK-47) rifles and 12 gauge shotgun rifles in the Kalashinkov design,’ said Farid Shah.
Replying to a question about the quality of his guns, he simply said that his guns were no match for the Russian, Chinese or Pakistani guns produced in Wah Ordnance Factories.
‘A gun made manually from ordinary steel manually cannot match a gun produced in a well equipped factory from weapon grade steel using computerised machines,’ claimed Farid, adding that his guns were bulky and since there is no standardisation in the workshops, it is not possible to replace parts.
Hence, if something goes wrong the entire gun has to be thrown away.
‘This gun costs Rs12,000 a piece and takes 10 days to complete. But we cannot produce quality automatic weapons. Locals know it that is why no one would buy a Darra made AK-47 rifle in Peshawar or the rest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).”
Even with these drawbacks—by western standards—there is a real market for these guns.
Firearm technology is ubiquitous. Even if all guns could magically disappear, it would take little material and time to produce new and fully functional guns. It would take less time and materiel to produce swords. The armament genie is out of the bottle and has been for centuries.
As it has been since 490 BC, it is not the weapon that kills, but the human being that decides to use it for evil. Gun control is always an attempt to harness human nature. Because it is invariably focused on depriving the honest and law-abiding of the means of self-defense, it has never worked; it cannot work.