In the book, Jeffery Horton discovered a way to make nitrates explode within a given radius of a machine that he developed. The immediate use of this technology appeared to be disarmament. The technology was shared with the government, and then politics broke loose. Different groups wanted to use the discovery in different ways. Some said the technology was unconstitutional since it disarmed the citizenry. Some wanted to use it as a weapon to destroy enemy forces. Some wanted to maintain the status quo and try to cover up the discovery. The scientists won on the last one, pointing out that someone else would probably discover the same thing soon and the science could not simply be covered up.
But this book is really about power. When I was in south-central Los Angeles, I knew that most of the people I met were either carrying a gun or could get one pretty quickly. Growing up in Idaho, most trucks had gun racks on in the window. I got different feelings from these two situations. In LA, I felt decidedly unsafe. Any offence could be an excuse to pull out a gun and finish an argument. At least until the other people in the neighborhood figured out who killed their brother. Then the next round would begin. I was fairly safe, protected by what I was doing, but many of the people who lived in the neighborhood had constant fear for themselves and their loved ones. In Idaho, people expected to carry their riffles, but they rarely used them except for hunting or shooting street signs after drinking too much. I felt perfectly safe around these guns.
The difference is in the attitude. Some people carry guns as sport, while others carry it as power. Guns should not give power, but they do. We see this in politics, crime, and in some neighborhoods. They can be a great equalizer (why they got put in the constitution) or the ultimate unequalizer (when criminals use them on those who don’t have them).
What would we do if we got rid of them all? If no one would be able to hold up a convenience store or a bank with a gun or a bomb, would you feel safer? What if the police and the army couldn’t stop a crime or an invasion because they lacked the firepower? What if someone stronger than you started to attack? It makes for interesting thinking.
For myself, I would choose to be without them. I never really cared for hunting, and guns provide more of a threat than the safety they bring. Without guns, many criminals would have to resort to different methods to force submission on people, and Clarke mentions group crime as an example. What do you think?
Three lemmings. The ideas were good, but I thought the writing could have been improved.