'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

07 January 2013

The Single Greatest Invention In The History Of Mankind

This is a re post from last March. In the hope that any who are seeking an understanding of why guns are so important will read it and consider. Vital, not just to us but to all who love their life and freedom.

It could be electricity. Ask most engineers and science fiction writers and they'll tell you that with electricity you have civilization, without it you don't.

The internal combustion engine? Allowed people to travel further faster and in greater numbers than anything before. We were expanding but slowly even with the advent of trains. Individual motor vehicles very much changed our society and greatly added to personal freedom.

The computer? We still haven't seen the end of the technological wizardry that is modern computing and I doubt very much we ever will. Absent the heat death of the earth. It has enabled everything from efficient mass production to cell phones to rail guns and everything in between. We owe much of our current civilization to the computer (social media sites notwithstanding) including the advent of the citizen journalist. Where would we be without the information available at the touch of a button?

You could make the case for so many others; penicillin, the airplane, Nerf. I'm going to try and make a case for another invention. Something different. Something responsible for both death untold and lives saved in scores of millions.

The greatest invention in the history of mankind is the Gun.

Yes, yes, wail and gnash your liberal teeth. Decry me as a neanderthal and vicious sociopath. Call me paranoid delusional with a persecution complex. Tell me I'm a myrmidon (an epithet I'll proudly accept btw). But there has been no other invention that has taken the idea of individual freedom and made it a reality than the Gun.

Back in the day of Oog and Moog  life was exactly as long as muscle and intelligence could extend it. When it came to interpersonal relations if Oog was bigger or smarter than Moog then Oog made the rules and if Moog didn't like it he could leave, piss off or die. Don't want to bear Oog's children? Too bad. You get absolutely no say in the matter. Give it up or he'll take it.

During the ages when we started making tools from stone, bronze and iron it was much the same. Muscle powered weapons required either the pure strength to wield it or the intelligence (or cunning) to get others to do so on your behalf.

Then the Chinese invented gunpowder. It was almost certainly the Han ancestor to the redneck who told his buddy, Changbubba, "Hey y'all, watch this!" just before entering the halls of the Darwin List and igniting an unintended revolution. The beginnings of true personal defense and the freedom it engenders were born.

Enter the gun inventors and makers of which the finest was undoubtedly either Samuel Colt or John Browning. Not that I'm biased. They invented or perfected personal weapons with the lethality and repeatability necessary for them to be carried and used effectively by anyone. Not to mention methods of manufacture that put them within the reach of even the poorest.

This suddenly put everyone more or less on even footing. Bigger, stronger and smarter could no longer be relied upon to carry the day. Now skill and experience entered the equation not to mention banding together in tribal and community groups for increased safety. Interpersonal relations improved to the point that even Oog had to measure his words to Moog carefully lest Moog let his displeasure be known at the point of a Peacemaker. Same with Moog's wife and daughters. If you want a reliable source of child bearing women you best civilize up and put a ring on the gal's finger and treat her with at least a modicum of respect. A club to the noggin was no longer considered acceptable foreplay.

The Gun was the single device that allowed a person, anyone of either gender and almost any age past toddler, to protect their lives, their chastity and what they had built and earned for themselves and their greater community. The strongest could no longer rule with impunity. They had to constantly be aware of that equalizer in the hands of those they purported to govern. Yes, dictators and tyrants have been many and murderous but never, never, without disarming the general populace or not allowing that arming in the first place.

The Gun could kill the armored knight on horseback, the despot in the palace and the robber in the night. It allowed a pioneer woman to defend herself and her children against marauding gangs when her husband was away trying to scratch out a living from the dirt and wilderness hours or even days away from the homestead. It allowed the forces of freedom to wrest victory away from the forces of evil and enforce peace and democracy where such had never existed before in the history of mankind. It allows law abiding and peaceful people to walk the streets at night and sleep well in their homes, secure in the knowledge that they have at their disposal a powerful weapon against the violent and rapacious. It constrains those who would abrogate civil liberties and enforce tyranny with the power of government.

There is nothing ever invented by man that has leveled the playing field between the strong and the weak, the peaceful and the violent, the virtuous and the rapist, the tyrant and the libertarian better than the Gun. Take away the electricity, the cars, the computers, everything else and we're still not back to the days of Oog and Moog. The reason is the gun. As long as they exist civilization and freedom are possible wherever like minded people of strong character and good will band together. If Guns ever disappear no other thing will stand between life and death except the whims of the strong, the violent and the barbaric.

Yes, Guns kill and in the hands of those of psychopathic intent they are an instrument of evil. But it isn't the Gun that is inherently bad, it's the character and intent of the wielder. If everyone is armed then everyone has an equal say and an equal chance to survive. If no one is armed then those built for and disposed toward violence will run roughshod over all in their path. Yes, guns have killed millions but, with a few notable exceptions, those they have killed in truly job lots were the disarmed and in most of those cases it wasn't the gun that did the actual killing. It was simply the instrument that enforced the will of the murderous. An armed people are a free people. It's a generality I know but that doesn't make it untrue. An armed society really is a polite society.

It boggles my mind that so simple a concept is beyond the understanding of those who would disarm us. Do they not know that in the event we are ever completely without Guns their fate is as sealed as ours? Do they really wish to place their lives and that of their children in the paws of the thuggish? I can only answer; It seems so.

So there is my argument for the Gun as the single greatest invention in the history of mankind. Sadly, I am not a scholar nor the brightest of the bright but I have put forth my logic as well as I am able. Many could say more undoubtedly but this is my answer, the best I can make. Happily it seems we are winning the argument, at least here in America. My hope is that everyone else on the planet will wake up to the realization that the only thing keeping them unarmed is ultimately themselves and the political choices they make.

Don't be a victim.



innominatus said...

I'll add that most of the major breakthroughs in metallurgy and manufacturing (like interchangeable parts!) have come by arms makers trying to one-up their competition. If gun makers hadn't made these breakthroughs, all the other modern things we enjoy (cars, computers, etc) might not even exist today.

Six said...

That's a great point Inno. Thanks!

Keads said...

Well that or spray cheese =)

Six said...

Mmmmmm Spray cheese. Velveeta Rules!

Sarge said...

Maybe beer should at least be mentioned.

JihadGene said...

Beer too, LOOONG time!!!

Six said...

Ok, I'll give that to you guys. Beer has to be right up there at the top. But remember, we'll always have a source of beer if we have a gun.
"Ok, hand over the lager with your hands up and nobody gets hurt!"

kfg said...

Most engineers and I suppose many science fiction writers don't understand civilization. Civilization is the cause of higher technologies, not the other way around.

Higher technologies like the concrete construction methods of the Romans or the keeled ship building methods of the Norse.

Civilization is a social construct; by definition. It is roughly ten thousand years old, so far as we have been able to determine thus far.

On the other hand, there are those who postulate that beer is indeed the actual cause of civilization. Permanent agrarian settlements were required to produce it in the quantities desired, which required a formalization of social relationships across the entire population.

Civilization itself can be argued to be the greatest invention.

However, if we're talking the History of Mankind, which predates the history of civilization by a rather goodly amount of time, the single greatest invention would surely be the manipulation of exothermic chemical reactions, which made the invention of civilization possible.

Which is where I came into this movie, isn't it?

Six said...

That might be the most intelligent comment anyone has ever left here kfg. You are absolutely correct and I should have been more precise in my thoughts and wording. My only argument is that the Gun allows equality in society like nothing else I am aware of.

Six said...

That might be the most intelligent comment anyone has ever left here kfg. You are absolutely correct and I should have been more precise in my thoughts and wording. My only argument is that the Gun allows equality in society like nothing else I am aware of.

kfg said...

Thank you, Sir. In those rare moments of lucidity I can still fire on six, maybe even seven, cylinders. Sounds impressive if you don't know I'm a 16.

"My only argument is that the Gun allows equality in society like nothing else I am aware of."

God made man and woman; Sam Colt made them equal . . . more or less.

Certainly the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and was also the first major investor in mass produced firearms with interchangeable parts, as well as the man who wrote The Little Red Book and disarmed his people, understood the principle.

Hoards of farm boys bearing arms against the legions of rabbits also put the turnips on the tables of the vegans, but just try 'splainin' that to them.

Valex said...

The argument clashes against the historical fact that guns have most been used to oppress people, not to set them free & the statistical one that USA is not safer from crime than EU, where anti-gun politics is enforced, just the opposite.

Six said...

You're going to have to cite a reference or two as to crime stats Valex. Here's a link to an article by a UK paper where the US ranks well below the EU countries in crimes per 100,000 people.
As for oppression, that can really only occur by governments and has never happened in an armed and free society. It's not the gun that oppresses it's the ruling class.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Very well put, and a most persuasive argument.


Six said...

Thank you Hank!

Miguel said...

Since its inception, guns were hated for their ability to knock down aristocracy.


Guns: Because we are done with Kings.

Damsel said...

Great post, Six. The only comment I really feel I must air is that most hard sf writers would be more likely to agree with you than disagree. Heinlein, Anvil, Clarke, Drake, Laumer, Nivin, Pournelle, and many others all cited the gun as a foundation for civilization in their works.

"You can have peace, or you can have freedom. Never count on having both at once."

Six said...

Well said as always Miguel.

Thank you Damsel. It's no wonder that those are some of my favorite writers.

Blue said...

Excellent post, Six.

No plans here to be a victim :)

Six said...

Thanks Blue. If I was picking men who were least likely to be a helpless victim you'd be at the top of that list my friend.

A Girl and Her Gun said...

Yes on beer, but no to spray cheese and Velveeta:)

Six said...

But they're at the very top of the guy food pyramid AGirl. Well, maybe that's just bachelor guys :)

Blue said...

I kinda like cheddar in a can with Ritz or Townhouse crackers...

I definitely like beer. And bourbon. :)

Six said...

That's because you're a man of sophisticated tastes Blue!

Blue said...

LOL. Yeah....