Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Fat man on a bridge ammunition

  [vote for,

There is a variant to the well known trolley problem where the preventative act is not pulling the lever (where the act is mechanical and distancing, reducing the philosophical conundrum to an exercise in arithmetic) but is instead that of physically shoving a corpulent man from a bridge onto the track below, his bulky frame being for the purposes of the problem, conveniently enough enough to stop the trolley at a cost of the life of only one fat man.

The idea of this variant is that the person who has to answer the question is physically closer to the consequences of his or her solution, actually has to put some effort into killing one to save more than one. You can see where I am going with this.

The gun is an excellent tool for making things that are alive be not alive any more. Its excellent because shoving lumps of metal through people at high speeds is strongly correlated with those people getting quite poorly quite quickly. But it is also good because it is low in effort to fire a gun and puts the shooter and the soon to be dead person at a distance from one another. The gun is a magic finger, you point it and the target gets to be dead, low effort, everyone is a winner (assuming the victim wanted to be dead).

One of the arguments about the wisdom of a superabundance of firearms lies in that some people think it is mega that it is easy to use a gun to make people dead and some people think it is decidedly unmega that it is easy to use a gun to make people dead. I don't want to attack the mechanical convenience of firearms - if yous're all happy with it, idgaf whatevs - but I think it would be useful to deal with the distancing between killer and killee that the firearm allows. It's psychologically easier to commit the act of shooting someone than it is to strangle them with a kettle cord. At least that's my theory, your honour.

So to stop beating around the bush: we make bullets really long. Really really long, 30 meters maybe, each bullet sticking for most of its length out of the snout of the gun, pressing at the point end against the chest of the target, so that the gun is no longer a ranged weapon but a very powerful stabbing weapon. The gun slinger keeps the convenience of death at the squeeze of a trigger and the advantage of being able to kill while still meters away from the killee, but there is a psychological proximity which should impose a high but not insurmountable barrier to entry of the I Shoot People Dead Club.

calum, Mar 09 2018

https://xkcd.com/873/ [pertinax, Mar 10 2018]

Whicker Island https://www.youtube...watch?v=Cn8Pua5rhj4
Apropos hippo's comment. [DrBob, Mar 14 2018]


       I think you have still changed the graph of ease of use versus distance when really you just want to make it up close and personal .   

       Also, the magazine is going to be exceptional so the skill to use this firearm will be off the charts.
wjt, Mar 10 2018

       This isn't a special firearm, it uses all the same guns, it's just that the bullets are longer. That's the beauty of the idea - everything is exactly the same except for the psychology involved in making the decision to peel a fool's cap back
calum, Mar 10 2018

       Power spear, nice ! [+]   

       Captive-bolt humane killers already do this on a very short range basis.   

       The system would probably need to be like the StiehlGranate 42, the projectile is muzzle loaded and a blank charge propells it.   

       It would have the advantage that even if the hit is not lethal, the target will be effectively skewered and disabled. A barbed head will be an essential feature of the projectile.
8th of 7, Mar 10 2018

       Or a power axe. The gun fires, triggering a lever arm of which the other end is an axe head, requiring a close-range kill.
RayfordSteele, Mar 10 2018

       or you could just shelve your sentimental crush on your fellow humans and use your boyfriend's fishing knife that he casually let you have as a souvenir before you took off for greener pastures. it would kill just as well if you aimed it at the right spot. some victims even help with this by raising their shirts and pointing to their hearts as if you are merely joking. worked for me. except i missed the mark.
Edie, Mar 10 2018

       This ammunition would be difficult to load. However, a suitably telescopic sight might produce a comparable effect.
pertinax, Mar 10 2018

       Practcal experiments with a 2000 mm length of 6mm steel rod are not encouraging.   

       When installed in the barrel of a Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.IV, the rod droops significantly due to its inherent flexibility. Further, the extremely high mass compared to a standard FMJ projectile means that the breech pressure is likely to be dangerously high.   

       It's very similar to the problem of the Mills bomb N°23 Mk II. Since we have the specifications for the special blank ammunition, it will be possible to work out the maximum mass of the rod "bullet".   

       The answer may well be to fabrcate a hollow titanium tube, to give a rod that is stiff but light, and attach a barbed head to the business end. This will give the optimum combination of length and mass.   


       The breech end of the tube will of course need to be closed, and an obturator attached, to stop propellant gas blow-by.   

       Some sort of bullet-capture system could possibly be implemented.   

       <even later>   

       Or possibly a .22 subcalibre chamber adaptor using a .22LR blank, although the available energy will be very low.
8th of 7, Mar 11 2018

       /No.1 Mk.IV// a whatnow ?
FlyingToaster, Mar 11 2018

       A rare, indeed unique, hybrid of the Short Magazine Lee–Enfield Mk III/III* and the Rifle No. 1 Mk VI, assembled from parts of both models as a trials weapon in 1952 by ROF.
8th of 7, Mar 11 2018

       ...and the elephant tiptoed quietly out of the locker room to look for better peanuts elsewhere
Edie, Mar 11 2018

       I'd like the one made of the leftovers : smle with no4 sights.   

       //elephant// pink and invisible ? or just invisible.
FlyingToaster, Mar 11 2018

       I'm led to believe that you need different bullets for different types of gun. What would be interesting would be an analysis of the distances that various popular firearms can achieve and the point in each such range at which the accuracy deteriorates to "A-Team Baddies". Using that latter figure, we can set the length of the ammunition for each weapon.   

       Another advantage of this idea is that the risk of suicide by firearm would decrease to near zero for all but W. Heath Robinson and he is, Wikipedia confirms, already dead.
calum, Mar 12 2018

       // I'm led to believe that you need different bullets for different types of gun. //   

       No, that's a complete lie, they all use the same ones. Absolutely identical. Someone's taking the piss out of you. Really, you're far too credulous. Just spend a few minutes watching any primetime TV show involving firearms, or any number of movies, and you'll realise we're telling you the truth.   

       // an analysis of the distances that various popular firearms can achieve and the point in each such range at which the accuracy deteriorates to "A-Team Baddies".//   

       That depends rather more on the user and rather less on the weapon than you might think.   

       // Using that latter figure, we can set the length of the ammunition for each weapon. //   

       ... or indeed user.   

       <gratuitous "piano or pianist ?" analogy reference>   

       // smle with no4 sights. //   

       Oh, and [FT], we have one of those too, but chambered for 7.62mm NATO, and yes it is unique, and no, you're not getting your thieving mitts on it, so bugger off.
8th of 7, Mar 12 2018

       Another way to achieve the desired effect of reducing the shooter's psychological proximity to death would be to cleverly package up the ammunition with cute baby puppies such that the only way to open the package also breaks the neck of the cute baby puppy.
hippo, Mar 13 2018

       <starts surreptitiously measuring [hippo] for a bespoke Wicker Man/>
8th of 7, Mar 13 2018

       The Wicker Man thing is interesting, because it is the inverse of the firearm as a means of death. It needs to be created, at some considerable physical effort, and the person who ends up inside the wicker man will in most cases have to be forced, rather than cajoled, into place. Both of these require a high degree of physical and emotional engagement with the act and with the victim. It is telling that there have been no recorded mass wicker man burnings at American schools since records began in December 1791.   

       As an aside, I can't adequately communicate the depths of my despair when I saw that I had had a thought in the same postcode as a thought had by the creator of xkcd. Next thing you know I'll be wearing a hat indoors and smugging the shit out of everything I touch.
calum, Mar 13 2018

       <old-timer>No one takes the time nowadays to invest in the craftsmanship that a proper wicker man calls for - young people today with their 'pods' and 'facebooks' just don't value the old ways like they should... </old-timer>

- and I'll just close that tag [8th] carelessly left dangling </ssmhfabWM>

To be honest, I'd prefer "whicker man", in which the victim has to wear a blazer and travel round the world interviewing beautiful people.
hippo, Mar 13 2018

       ... at the end of which they get stuffed unceremoniously into a giant anthropomorphic structure made from woven wood, and burnt ?   

       Yes, fine, go ahead. We will prepare your large hand-held microphone and spectacles; let us know when your moustache reaches the appropriate degree of floridity.   

       <mutters about HTML pedants/>   

       <Surreptitiously edits previous tag in the hope that only [hippo] will notice or understand/>   

       // a high degree of physical and emotional engagement with the act and with the victim. //   

       Yes, that's the enjoyable part - watching the pain and terror on their face as the blade goes in, and then the life seep slowly from their eyes as they sag to the ground.   

       The worst thing about stabbing wasps with sewing needles is that they have no facial expression as such. But the legs tend to wiggle, which is quite fun.   

       // there have been no recorded mass wicker man burnings at American schools since records began in December 1791 //   

       That might be more informative on the subject of the schools' ability to teach traditional rural skills, such as hedge laying and coracle-making. In the absence of technique, a 50 gallon oil drum and a suitable quantity of gasoline is the obvious substitute.
8th of 7, Mar 13 2018

       Kiri-kiri-kiri etc, yes. Trying to erect barriers with primarily psychological effects so as to make it harder for people to use existing weapons to kill it never going to stop people who have psychologies which leave them predisposed to not thinking people are people but I'd posit that a whole bunch of people who have killed people regret it and wish that it had been harder for them to do.   

       If we can get round to the idea of 30m long bullets, we might also get round to the new sport ballistic jousting, requiring the trigger to be pulled at the point of impact of bullet tip with kevlar waistcoat. If we put the horse on skis, the Norwegians will go for it.
calum, Mar 13 2018

       // a whole bunch of people //   

       ... but not Royal Marines.
8th of 7, Mar 13 2018

       [FlyingToaster] sp invisible , maybe indivisible. Truely in the room.
wjt, Mar 13 2018

       I notice that the "wicker man" html tag has been edited to add a forward slash before the closing angle bracket, but nothing has been done about the intra-tag spaces.
pertinax, Mar 13 2018

       You and [hippo] are going to be quite cosy in your wooden latticework enclosure, [pert].   

       That is, at least until the flames reach you ...
8th of 7, Mar 14 2018

       "wooden"?! - what kind of cheap knock-off are you trying to con us with? I demand only the finest wicker-work!
hippo, Mar 14 2018

       Oh, you'll get that. The inner structure is of vertically-orientated, closely spaced, birch or larch poles to give strength and to stop the occupants escaping. The wicker and withies are woven in and around the poles to give shape to the Man. Withies are usually woven green, so the Man has to be prepared well in advance and allowed to dry before the Ceremony can be performed.
8th of 7, Mar 14 2018

       " demand only the finest wicker-work" I agree. There should also be a wicker version of wikipedia, appropriately called Wickerpedia. Folk would travel for miles then spend hours weaving their stories into the Wickerpedia, and wait to cudgel into a glutinous pulp all those who attempt to edit their creations.
xenzag, Mar 14 2018

       - and WhickerPedia too, with the whole thing read out in a synthesised Alan Whicker voice.
hippo, Mar 14 2018

       Yes - called WhickerPedia's World.
xenzag, Mar 14 2018

       A reversion to muzzle-loading weapons would be the best way to implement this idea, calum. Death by ramrod!

//The gun is an excellent tool for making things that are alive be not alive any more.//

Is that actually true, do we know? I couldn't find any statistics on the percentage of shootings that did not result in fatalities; I didn't look that hard though, to be honest, but I do wonder whether, in terms of efficiency, guns are really that good at killing people in comparison with, say, being run down by a diesel locomotive. I would say that the creation of automatic weapons argues that, actually, guns are not that good at killing other people*. Why else would you need to make multiple attempts at it?

*From my rather cursory perusal of the interweb, it seems that they are far more effective if wielded against oneself.
DrBob, Mar 14 2018

       In a study of deaths in conflict since 1900, it has been shown that the majority of (fatal and non-fatal) casualties are caused by "crew-served weapons systems".   

       This typically means artillery, tactical and strategic bombing, AFVs, and medium machine guns.   

       Casualties from personal weapons use account for only about 10% of casualties (by comparison, figures from West Point indicate that casualties from "friendly fire" are usually about 6%, eliciting the reaction "Well yes, they're Americans... what do you expect ?").
8th of 7, Mar 14 2018


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