March 4, 2021

Gunshots and dropping helicopters

More Guns

Cody Wilson, a law undergraduate in the University of Texas, Austin, United States, is coming up with a revolutionary  idea of putting more guns in more hands all over the world. His idea is simple you wonder why everyone didn’t think about it: build a gun and print it out on a 3-D printer.

Yes, you read me right; thanks to Wilson, anybody will soon be able to print out a gun, far from the surveillance eyes of the law’s supposed long arms.

The guns, to be made of a combination of metals, plastic and ceramics, can easily be melted into some other product, making a crime committed with it very difficult to trace. It is an interesting idea, but one with frightening potential. One cannot tell the extent to which this idea will travel if it succeeds. These guns can pass through metal detectors more easily; robbery and plane hijacking will be harder to monitor. I think of Nigerian banks and their fixation on metals; they virtually strip you naked as you have to remove one item of clothing after the other to pass through their doors while the security guard rummages through your handbag. But with 3-D guns, their game will be suddenly outdated.

The US, being a country that thrives on innovation, will not censor his idea. Who can tell, that as this young man is planning making a 3-D gun, someone somewhere is not thinking up another technology that will counter the excesses of his invention?

Wilson, when interviewed this year, said, “There are regimes all over the world that have said, for better or for worse, you don’t have the right to access to a firearm. Well, perhaps it’s not in their control in the future. Perhaps it’s not up to some majority to say anymore. Perhaps these things, regardless of your philosophical assumptions, are going to be ultimately inalienable. That’s exciting.”

Exciting? I admire his enthusiasm but the idea of democratising guns, especially in repressive regimes, by doing with guns what Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook is creepy. I am not hopeful that 3-D guns will be a valuable resource in times of revolution. Since the sad news of the Connecticut shooting broke, in which 20 children and six adults were gruesomely killed, the debate about gun control has been up in their media. There will be much talk but I am not sure it will go so far. There are too many guns in the US and very few will be willing to give up theirs. I cannot tell whether they are fascinated with guns as adult toys or because of their potential of having power over others’ lives.

Texas State, for instance, is crazy about guns. The joke is that if the US is ever invaded, starting from Texas, one family has enough guns to take care of business. Given how much money people make from selling guns, and the kind of lobbying gun makers and National Rifle Association can afford in the legislature, it’s hard to control guns. The Connecticut shooting came in the wake of the Oregon Mall shooting where a young man had enough ammunition on him to take down as many people as possible. And there have been a number of these shooting massacres recently, some of which just never get as much coverage as the Connecticut one.

As the moral panic of the Connecticut shooting spreads, more and more people will buy guns for self-protection and capitalists/entrepreneurs like Wilson will be more excited.

One thing that worries me is the love of the dramatic that these shooters exhibit; a young man thinks his life is no longer worth living, decides to go in a blaze of glory and he seeks as many souls as possible to be his Death Horseman who will ride with him to the great beyond. Like the enslaved people of old who were buried alive with royals, to continue to minister to their needs in the great beyond, these shooters keep looking for people to die with them. In the case of the Connecticut shooter, he chose children for reasons best known to him. Of course there is a kind of “Self”problem here. Call it self-centredness; self-indulgence, self-worth overestimation, whatever, the big bad Self is a key problem. This sense of entitlement and privilege is a big moral problem that undergirds the violence acts, regardless of whatever mental problem disturbs the shooters.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Nigeria has not been spared her share of tragedies either. Well, in Nigeria, tragedies are a daily dose. They just get more gruesome by the day. There are reports of fatal accidents and in a particularly saddening one, schoolchildren in Ogun State were crushed to death. It was compounded by the news of the crashed helicopter in Bayelsa State that took the lives of Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, and former National Security Adviser, Gen. Patrick Azazi. As if that is not bad enough, some people rejoiced over the deaths! While the ignorance of street urchins on the streets of Kaduna can be largely ignored, it is shameful that even educated people tweeted and rejoiced that our leaders are going down one after the other. They even wished for more and more of such occurrences.

Of course, with the way Nigeria has been messed up, it is tempting to rejoice when our leaders arrive at a sticky end. But that is where the issue is; we must never yield to the temptation to lower our standards to the level of those we criticise. When we do, we lose moral grounds. Some folks need to be taught that someone’s death diminishes everyone yet alive, one way or the other. The bell tolls for all of us.

Yes, we can criticise the actions of the dead. We can even point out to our thieving leaders and their coterie that life does end eventually and all they accumulate is mere vanity. We can even use Azazi and Yakowa as a case study to preach to our leaders that they can continue to run away from the roads they refuse to fix because they can always choose to fly but their inaction on land will catch up with them up there, one way or the other.


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