A US future law question

  1. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    This is related to a recent thread about laser weapons development.

    US law only, although UK law might also need some work. What is the legal definition of a firearm? And is it adequate for near-future weapons such as human-portable lasers and further-future ones such as "phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range"?

    AFAIK the US 2nd Amendment covers firearms of much more recent technology than the muzzle-loading flintlocks of the Revolutionary War era. Does it also cover energy weapons - or exotica such as killdrones loaded with small (single target) shaped charges, or grey goo bombs?

    Perhaps relevant is the probability that matching the gun to the damage might be a lot more difficult with a plasma scar than with a bullet hole. No projectile left behind for evidence, for a start.

    I think this might be an interesting discussion.
    Feb 13, 2018 at 11:14 PM
  2. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

    Aug 22, 2007
    Hunting in the woods
    I think even things as simple as electronic instead of mechanical guns also required reclassification and adjustment to firearm owning laws. In general anything new often requires new laws or adjustments to existing laws. The severity and complexity of the situation often dictates how long it can take for new law to come into effect.

    It's not abnormal that sometimes the technology gets there before the laws catch up to it (heck the internet is a prime example of where it takes time for governments to catch up to it). So I'd expect the same for new weapons.

    As for forensics that's a very complex area and honestly a lot of what we see on the TV is often both either highly simplified and also highly fantastical in what can be done. So its an area where I think unless you are involved with it, chances are its hard to know what is possible even today; let alone be able to predict on the future abilities to detect new technologies.
    Feb 13, 2018 at 11:50 PM
  3. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

    Apr 11, 2010
    Sleeping in Lab
    Deadly lasers have been possible for a long time. Someone has been controlling the release of any such weapons, and had better keep doing so.
    The worst stuff, they just don't talk about, because why put ideas in people's heads? Why if (deleted) they could (censored) and then (too dangerous) like (etc.etc) tsunamis, earthquakes.... no, just kidding, that's just SciFi babble, nothing happening here, keep moving. :whistle:
    Feb 14, 2018 at 12:01 AM
  4. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    Incidentally, this genie is already out of the bottle. Witness:

    Laser Bazooka
    Feb 14, 2018 at 12:55 AM
  5. 2DaveWixon

    2DaveWixon Shocked and Appalled!

    Mar 13, 2016
    I have not studied the subject, but my hunch is that in terms of the Law, the word "firearm" will be replaced by "weapon."
    Feb 14, 2018 at 1:15 AM
  6. TheDustyZebra

    TheDustyZebra Inspired. Or possibly insane. Could go either way. Staff Member

    Nov 26, 2009
    Well, first of all, the Second Amendment doesn't say "firearms", it says "arms". That has allowed the technology to progress along the way without causing any great kerfuffle. Although there are always ongoing discussions regarding whether that would allow the populace to be equivalently armed with whatever the military (militia) are using. Started both by people who want to own tanks and by people who don't want them to own tanks.

    I don't see how the identifiability of the weapon used to create the damage would be part of the argument, legally speaking, as there was no such thing when the Second Amendment was written. In terms of future-tech applicability, it's probably in the same class with identity-locked weapons, as far as the legal discussion goes -- and that discussion would be the one between the NRA and Congress.
    Feb 14, 2018 at 1:49 AM

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