The first recorded use of firearms, or “hand cannons” as they were called, describes an unfamiliar experience. A lit fuse touched a small bowl of gun powder, which ignited to send a projectile flying through the air. In wars of the 13th and 14th centuries, firearms proved relatively useless; since they were both inaccurate and inconsistent.
Today’s guns are much different. They’re small, fast, and reliable. And they kill about 500,000 people worldwide each year.
But what if guns hadn’t evolved? What if 14th century humans abandoned them and they didn’t exist today?
Would society be better off? Would our world be safer? Would we have peace?
In 1996, a gunman took 35 lives in Tasmania, Australia. In the days that followed, policy makers united in support of safe gun control, and voted to ban all semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. The results were shocking.
Gun owners returned their illegal firearms for refunds at market value, and almost overnight, Australia’s civilian stockpile of arms went down 30%. And, over the last 22 years, the liklihood of getting murdered by gunshot in Australia has decreased by more than 72%.
So what if the world followed Australia’s example? What if we took it one step further, and banned all guns? Or what if they just never existed?
The first and most obvious change, would be a staggering drop in fatalities. In the U.S. alone, roughly 100 people die every day from a gunshot wound. To put that in perspective, that’s more American deaths from guns than from all of the country’s wars combined!
But while homicides and suicides would fall significantly, we’d still be a far cry from achieving world peace.
For centuries before the advent of guns, brutal wars raged between civilizations. Its almost certain that without guns, global conflict would decline, but it would come to a complete halt. Instead, most developed countries would innovate, developing other explosive and chemical weaponry, and likely even create new weapons.
At the same time, terrorist groups and small militias that rely on the accessibility and effectiveness of cheap guns, would have a hard time holding ground.
And the natural world? Well, there’d be a little bit less noise pollution, a lot less poaching, and more hope for endangered species. While hunting with a bow might be fun, dealing with large invasive species that ravage crops and farmland could become a dangerous challenge.
In the state of Texas, wild hogs cause $400 million dollars in damages every year, and are often hunted from helicopters due to their vicious nature. America’s gun industry pumps an annual $50 billion dollars into the economy, but studies show that the country might profit even more from having no guns at all! If you add up all the costs of gun-related incidents, including medical treatment, legal fees, emergency services, police investigations, and security measures; it comes out to roughly $229 billion a year! And that’s just in the U.S.
More than lives would be saved in a world without guns. Crime would drop, healthcare would be cheaper, and families would pay less taxes. We might not be at total world peace, but we could all sleep a little sounder.
Do you dream of a world without guns?