Probably not.  Years ago, I heard about a Japanese man who knifed about 50 people in a subway station.  In a crowded, urban environment, a knife can actually be more deadly than a gun because knives are quiet, as/more deadly in close quarters, and a stabbing is an unidentifiable sensation to many who’ve never been stabbed and don’t see the knife coming.  Here’s an example of an IT dork stabbing 4 policemen in France.  Note the lack of firepower (guns) and the high degree of surprise used by the attacker: he got the drop on 4 guys with guns and stabbed them.  Surprise and firepower are equally-effective in combat, which is why poorly-armed non-state actors and lightly-armed commandos rely far more on surprise than firepower.

Non-state actors also frequently use explosives for both surprise and firepower.  They are often made of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) – a compound ubiquitous throughout the world – and a second chemical.  Something like 75% of our casualties overseas are due to IEDs which are detonated through a variety of means.  When they don’t kill, they maim horribly.  Explosives can be detonated many different ways enabling non-state actors to escape nation-state return fire.

Then there are those who manufacture their own guns AND ammunition, like the Pashtuns.  This is the latest example.  The attacker made a couple of PA Luty SMGs with 3D printed magazines and lowers.  He made a shotgun and a crude rifle.  He made ammunition out of potassium chlorate and sugar – a model rocket propellant.  The choice of propellant made his SMG malfunction.  Semiautomatic actions supposedly function much better with modern smokeless powders but revolvers, pump action, and break-action guns are effective.   The attacker’s shotgun apparently worked, so lives were saved only by a solid door (you have solid doors, don’t you?) and the attacker’s incompetence.  Valentin Doroshenko went postal with DIY guns n’ ammo and had similar results.

Once a technology is learned and it’s fairly inexpensive and simple to duplicate, there’s no way to control it.  Are these improvised weapons as good as the weapons of states?  No.  Does it matter? Probably not.


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