Gatling guns, balloon corps, and other weapons introduced during the American Civil War

Conservative magazine The National Interest recently published an article celebrating the technological innovations of the Civil War. While I, for one, am not so keen on this narrative framing…

If there is anything that drives innovation in science and technology, it’s a good old-fashioned war. When you need to kill your enemies faster and deader than they kill you, governments are willing to try nearly anything, no matter how insane it sounds.

That isn’t to say we haven’t gotten amazing technology from war. Rockets, microwaves and radar were all game-changing innovations during battle, but also have turned into essential pieces of our everyday lives, helping humanity even when we aren’t smashing and destroying someone else for looking at us funny.

…I cannot deny that there is something interesting about remembering just what kinds of what weapons we forged to fuck ourselves over, including gatling guns, coal torpedoes, shotgun pistol revolvers, and reconnaissance balloons. Sure, half a million American died over a glorified temper tantrum about whether or not Black people deserve to be treated with the most basic human indignity, rather than as pieces of property — but dammit, the CSS Hunley was the first submarine to successfully sink a boat, and that's an important hallmark of American innovation!

Anyway I clicked on this link by accident but it's weirdly kind of fascinating to realize just how many horrible things we created — things which continue to benefit the mission of American Imperialism — just so that we could further dehumanize Black people. Read the rest

Six-year-old brought a loaded gun to school for show-and-tell

In Roswell, New Mexico, a six-year-old elementary school student carried a loaded revolver to class. According to police, the student had "no malicious intent" but rather brought in the gun for show-and-tell. According to KOB4, the police confiscated the weapon, notified the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, and "escorted the parent and student to their home for further follow up and investigation."

You'd think it goes without saying, but apparently not: If you have children in your house and insist on keeping firearms around, lock them the fuck up. The guns, that is. Read the rest

Washington is finally starting to do something about gun violence, just not about mass shootings

The House Judiciary Committee actually held a hearing about gun violence in late September. But you probably didn't hear about it—either because the rest of US politics are so overwhelmingly terrible right now, or because it lacked the dramatic oomph of mass shootings or the inevitable gun ban proposals that always seem to follow.

Mass shootings only comprise about one percent of all gun deaths; we just hear about them more, because they're so damn horrific (though whether they're more frequent now is up for debate). Far more lives lost to suicides and gang-related violence every year. Overall, firearm injuries are the second leading cause of death for people under the age of 18. In other words, gun violence isn't a problem—it's (at least) 5 different problems, with different solutions.

What makes this House Judiciary Committee hearing even more remarkable is that for once they actually spoke with people from communities that are directly affected by these problems. Community-based solutions like this have the potential to save even more lives if you include the right people in the conversations (which unfortunately doesn't happen very often). They also have greater potential to gain bipartisan support. No one's talking about taking guns away, and no one's talking about empowering a disciplinarian police state using fear to keep the local systems in line. They just need funding and support for resources like social work. And that might actually make a difference.

(Thumbnail image via Flickr) Read the rest

Kindergarten and first grade football team holding a gun raffle

A kindergarten and first grade football time in Morrow, Ohio is holding a gun raffle to raise travel money for tournaments. They've already sold 500 tickets. The winners, 21 years or older, will receive either a handgun or HM Guardian F5 Elite. Apparently, gun raffles to support kids sports and schools isn't uncommon. From WLWT:

Gina Pennycuff is a mother and a substitute teacher. She happened to be working when she got a Facebook message about the gun raffle.

"It was disturbing to me because gun raffles for a youth organization just doesn't mix," she said.

She shared the flyer on Facebook and the comment section took off, some in favor and some opposed...

"I can't imagine being a parent of a kindergartener and them worrying and doing lockdown drills, but them also knowing they're raffling off guns," she said.

"Youth football team gun raffle sparks debate" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

3D-printed gun promoter arrested in Taiwan, returned to US, and bailed on sex charge

Charged with paying a 16-year-old girl for sex at a hotel in Austin, Texas, Cody Wilson was bailed Sunday and is a free man again—at least for now. The BBC reports that Wilson, famous for promoting 3D-printed gun plans, was arrested by Taipei police and returned to the US over the weekend. KHOU 11 filmed him leaving jail and hopping into a cab.

Wilson’s attorney Samy Khalil of Gerger, Khalil & Hennessy released a statement late Sunday evening.

“We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case. That’s our focus right now, representing our client and preparing his defense.”

It’s been a long journey back for the accused 3D-printed gun designer.

Authorities say the 30-year-old flew out to Taiwan after a friend told him he was being investigated for allegedly paying $500 for to have sex with a 16-year-old girl he contacted online.

Surveillance video shows Wilson checking in to a Taipei hotel Thursday. That’s where police finally arrested him on Friday.

How can this guy call himself a Libertarian? You go to Thailand, not Taiwan: just ask Elon! Read the rest

Robert Longo's new sculpture is a Death Star of 40,000 bullet casings

Artist Robert Longo has created Death Star II, a stunning sphere made with a bullet for each gun death in the US. It premiered at Art Basel this week (photos below). Read the rest

Why some Americans love guns

Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly says:

Our associate editor, Lisa Hix, has just written a terrific piece about why Americans are so in love with guns. Turns out the Wild West mentality that manifested itself after the slaughter at Sandy Hook (when the head of the NRA suggested that the answer to gun violence was to arm teachers) has its roots in the Wild West of our imaginations as conjured by Hollywood, not the Wild West of historical fact. That disconnect has colored the current debate about guns.

For example, citizens of the American frontier of the 19th century rarely got the chance to "stand their ground." In fact, according to Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of "True West" magazine, "The protocol of either counting down to draw or allowing the other person to draw first, that’s pure made-up hooey. In most of the fights, the idea was to get the drop on the other person, and that meant, more often than not, shooting from a safe place in an ambush, or shooting someone in the back, unfortunately.”

In addition to interviews with Bell and Jeffrey Richardson, a curator at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, our article features numerous photos of antique Kentucky rifles, Remington revolvers, Colt .45s, Smith & Wessons, and Winchesters, all of which prompted my son to encapsulate in a text the ambivalence many people feel about firearms: "Man I hate guns... and yet some of these guns are so cool...."

Why Americans love guns Read the rest

Tiny pistols built into jailers' keys

WonderHowTo has a gallery of jailer key guns, which came in handy in the days of yore.

Most correctional officers today do not carry firearms, unless they're isolated away from the prison population. But back in the olden days, prison guards on their rounds needed a little backup power in their hands, especially when opening cell doors—usually a two-handed job.

So came the birth of jailer key guns, a cell door key that doubles as a primitive one-shooter. Filled with gunpowder, "turnkeys" could fire the miniature key-pistol in case there was any trouble with the prisoner when opening the door.

Mini Key Guns: How Jailers Used to Keep Prisoners in Check Read the rest