Written a day after the Umpqua Community College shootings.
From whatever I have read about the U.S., there is virtually zero chance of rewriting the 2nd amendment.
We know Mike Bloomberg has plans. Sure Bloomberg is worth $37b and if he goes all out, it may make some impact. But I am really sceptical. Many Americans love their guns, and attitudes are unlikely to change soon. So what should Americans who want some form of gun control do?
How do established behaviours change? How does a longstanding pattern of thinking change?
Let us take a look at a very different context. The below passage is from aBenedict Evans’ blogpost
“When people talk about productivity — about PowerPoint and Excel and how Google Docs and the cloud will or won’t kill them, or messaging and the cloud, or how you need a PC for ‘real work’ — I’m reminded of CC Baxter and his Friden calculating machine. What killed those machines was not better, cheaper competitors but a completely different way to address the same underlying business need. Instead of hundreds of people recalculating insurance rates, the company bought a mainframe. The business need was being met, but the mechanism changed completely and the old tools disappeared.”
How does the above apply to guns and the 2nd amendment?
The second amendment doesnt talk about guns. They talk about arms. And even if subsequent interpretations of laws have extended it to guns, i dont think it will apply to changing the nature of gun by making a gun safer for bystanders.
In my opinion, what will drive a change, is a change in the nature of the gun itself. Imagine a digital smart gun that will fire only in the absence of a digital signal. I dont think the tech is hard to make work. As long as that digital signal is in place, no gun will fire (like a wi-fi etc). That way no guns will fire inside schools, hospitals provided they have this signal.
Of course, for this to happen, the nature of guns themselves would need to change. This wont happen overnight, and nor will legislation. Still we need to make a beginning. One industry that can play a role in driving this transformation is VCs. They would do so by investing in startups that rethink the gun from a tech standpoint.
On a side note, I would be curious to know how much VC money has gone into guns / smart weapons etc. I would hazard none. More VC money has gone into making thermostats smarter than guns. Given that the flow of VC money into am industry is an indication of innovation and change, this is a telling indication of the state of the gun industry.
When a manufacturer drives innovation, he usually drives innovation in the line of bigger, faster, better, expensive (chips are an exception). In Clayton Christensen lingo, sustaining innovation. If we look at guns and innovation, other than speed of firing etc, i am not sure any other innovation has happened for a century (happy to be proved wrong). Imagine if the only innovation in automobile was speed increase?
The ‘Gun’ is still a Gun but…
We are in an epoch where tech and software are changing the basic definition and nature of the product. We see it clearly now in auto. The car of 2075 will do all that the car of today does, and yet it wont be a ‘car’, just as the car of today does all that a buggy whip does, yet transcends it.
There were laws regulating horse dropping in cities across the late 19th / early 20th century during the time the buggy whip reined supreme. When the car came, these laws became irrelevant. Nobody had to fight to repeal them. Similarly it is only when the nature of the gun changes that the 2nd amendment will become irrelevant.
Thus I hazard, the only way random gun shootings stop in the U.S. will be when the nature of the gun changes, or in Marc Andreessen’s words, as software eats the gun gradually. Once the nature of the gun changes, it can be accompanied by legislation regulating controls, where it can fire, under what conditions it can’t, etc., such as Trigger control become ‘smart’ i.e., linked to some permissions that need to be in place before you fire.