Is the production of small arms and ammunition dependent on the stability, governance and infrastructure of the nation-state system or are they being democratized along with drones, electronic warfare, and other forms of hardware with dual military/civilian purposes? This is of interest to me because out in California, you have to have a background check to buy ammo but friends on various police forces tell me they’re recovering more and more homemade pistols.
Firepower gets frequent discussion in this community even though we all agree that it’s vastly overemphasized and it’s often too late when it’s time to use weapons. Usually, situations that require weapons could have been resolved peacefully by other means earlier. Genocides are an important example. Populations are disarmed and murdered. However, resistance to such things doesn’t depend on weapons anywhere near as much as it depends on virtue and mindset. We look at disarmed populations and blame the lack of weapons for the subsequent genocide, but the victims were dead in their minds and souls long before they were physically murdered. Alexander Solzhenitsyn famously wrote that Stalin’s entire regime would’ve collapsed during the Great Terror if the Russians had attacked the henchmen rounding them up one-by-one with anything they had rather than cower in their collective housing cells:
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
H. John Poole notes that Asian guerrillas have historically had very little in the way of firepower but have accomplished much by thinking vastly differently than most Western armies. He compares the mindset of Asian and non-state guerrillas the American one that relies heavily on firepower which causes more harm than good, even though we intend good. Americans used to rely far more on surprise, daring, and ingenuity which minimized the need for firepower and violence. We need to focus on things further upstream from fighting such as community and organization which are the moral and mental levels of the current low intensity conflict with the Forces of Darkness in this country.
With all of these caveats out of the way, the democratization of small arms is an important theme to explore because of the decline of the law and order of the nation-state system and the Left’s belief that legal fiat will make technologies like guns disappear. The latter is laughable because the hardest thing in producing any technology is knowing that it’s possible. Once Browning and others invented these actions and chemists invented modern powders, there is no way to uninvent them. Military technologies in particular have a way of persisting regardless of the decline of others technologies as the post-Roman era proved. I think this will be true in the future, though I think nukes might become rare since they require a high level of nation-state competence to produce – competence that we’re rapidly losing. How will this be demonstrated with gun production?
The biggest factor influencing the democratization of small arms is cheap materials and fabrication methods. If you follow the Firearm Blog’s ImproGuns feed, you will see that guns become easier and cheaper to make all the time. One example is rifled gun barrels. These are hard to make because they require a gundrill or lathe and your choice of PITA rifling processes. Nowadays, rather than buy all this equipment, you can make a barrel from DOM tubing using a DIY ECM rifling process that uses a 5 gallon bucket, a power supply, and some chemicals. Is it going to be the greatest barrel in the world? No. But it will work well-enough for the poor Mexican who is trying to defend his family from Cartels at close range.
This democratization extends to entire guns. Professor Parabellum has done the poor, downtrodden, and disarmed of the world a vital service by producing gun plans for 22 weapons ranging from single-shot hardware store apocalypse pistols to bullet hoses and SMGs that can be built with a Harbor Freight drill press and stick welder. As an aside, I believe epoxies are going to improve to the point where welding is no longer necessary for producing a gun that shoots lighter loads. Epoxy and carbon fiber are already being used to produce rifle barrels with thinner metal liners. Materials is one of the only sciences advancing.
The point is, never forget that you can walk out of the hardware store with an 80% STEN or similar weapon. Depending on your situation, such as crime and lawlessness, you may one day choose to do so. If you anticipate this, learn how to make things out of metal and 3D printing. Just learn how to make things with your hands and the ingenuity will flow to anything you want to make.
Remember, criminals and crime-beset citizens in the rest of the world already make guns when they need them. I alluded to the Left’s belief that legal fiat would make guns disappear. This is laughably untrue in places of the world where firearms ownership is already heavily restricted and murder is high. Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and Argentina come to mind. Guns seem to flow to the money and need. Half the world’s nation-states produce guns and in many countries people with money buy them regardless of their legality. For example, my wife’s friend is from Mexico City and her family had two: one for the house and one for the car. There were/are kidnappings.
As you know, California is my favorite hobbyhorse after Mexico. 30% of all guns siezed now in CA are homemade and friends on various police forces confirm this as I mentioned earlier. Even if California is the tail wagging the rest of the nation into similar laws, Cartels have already figured out how to make complete ARs in Mexico and if they can cook fentanyl and meth, they can even figure out smokeless powders.
California is a window into the future. We have some of the harshest laws and prison systems but the most non-state actors and most of the nation’s poor. The poor, especially when they’re mostly Mexican and already think California belongs to Mexico, are skeptical of the rich white man’s laws. Criminals are punished less and less for firearm offenses. Once you’re a felon, you’re in a revolving door system. No one wants this on their record, but a day is coming where you may not care.
This brings us back to where we are today: even having to have this discussion. This is the the twilight of our civilization because we have given up on religion and family. Guns are a great tool for self defense but can also be as much of a scourge in times of anarchy as Selco explains. Many seem to have the attitude that they can neglect duties like church attendance and family life but will make up for their neglect with guns when things get way worse. Focus on faith and family.
Bryce is a Christian of Calvinist persuasion, a husband, a father of boys, a former naval officer, and an electrical engineer with experience in remote sensing, electronic warfare, and test and measurement. He is an advocate of faith, family and community.