Chuck Bino: If only gunpowder never existed

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 01:12 AM

In one of our daily doses of political chatter last week, my son Kenneth and I managed to turn a serious topic into an unexpected, momentary laughing jag.  The seriousness of these discussions are always a given, usually about some news item or past column, with both of us lamenting the status quo, and vowing to help spread the word for “change.” 
More often than not, we both end these chats feeling no better than when we started, knowing the realities of inertia and apathy in both our national leadership and the citizenry.  This spontaneous laughter changed all that for a welcome, brief moment.
The seriousness of this chat concerned the continuing national dialogue on ownership of guns, personal responsibility, and child safety in today’s schools, definitely not subjects for levity.  You’ve probably been unable to avoid the criticisms of everything from the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association to background checks, magazines and mental illness since the Newtown massacre.
Allow me to set the stage for the “punch line,” and ask that you reserve your certainly well-deserved judgments.
Imagine that the early discovery of gunpowder and compounds by others like Alfred Nobel never happened.  How do you suppose the past world conquests, colonization, rise of DuPont and other corporations would have progressed?  There will always be remarkable discoveries of both weaponry and defenses against them, usually in the form of bigger and better weaponry.  The cycle continues.
Let’s consider my “stage” and its assumptions.   We’ll notice that Sam Colt finds a way to make conventional crossbows utilize six arrows in rapid succession. This increases the capability of the armed single soldier. That is soon followed by John Browning, who invents a 16 arrow magazine allowing that crossbow to become “semi-automatic.”  This device soon acquires the title of “assault crossbow,” raising that single soldier to magnum status.  Could it possibly get any better?
With the help and patents of John Thompson, the “semi” changes to “fully automatic,” and the size of the crossbow reduces to a somewhat “hand held” version.  Technology makes everything better and smaller.
Not to be outdone, the larger manufacturers of blowguns and broadswords make similar strides to improve their weaponry.   The last to relinquish their hold on tradition were the makers of catapults and trebuchets.  The pressure of competition and jockeying for market share works well for the consumers, which include governments, criminals and honest individuals.
There is a driving need to spread the word on advantages of each system.  A few membership groups get popular, most notably the National Crossbow Association (NCA). Lesser known were the National Broadsword and National Trebuchet Associations. How could it have been otherwise?
This hypothetical and fictional society has a constitution, national history, and propensity to crime similar to ours. Its citizens feel an ever stronger need to be armed, not unlike we do now.  So, my son asks me ... “Dad, did you ever get your training and apply for that “crossbow concealed carry permit?”
One point here is that our Constitution really doesn’t specify what kind of arms we can utilize as a militia. Another is that if it weren’t guns, it would be some other weapon that the media, unthinking public, and some of our misguided leadership would blame and try to ban.   The semi-automatic crossbow would be protected.  Lastly, it makes no more sense to blame the quantity, availability and possession of guns for crimes of murder than that of the crossbow, blowgun, broadsword or trebuchet.
The culprit is lack of conscience and personal responsibility. Yes, it was a good laugh.

Chuck Bino lives in High Point with his wife, Sue, after technical and management careers in manufacturing and retail. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.