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TLDR: What can modern governments do to force criminal gangs to use melee weapons instead of guns.

So I am writing a novel where the main character is pushed out of society, and is forced to join a criminal gang in order to survive. The story is set on modern day earth and guns are obviously dominant in the battlefield.

The problem is that I need to keep guns out of the hands of gangs because it will be too violent and nearly impossible for the main character to rise in hierarchy without a lot of luck. I want the gangs to fight using melee weapons (baseball bats, knives etc..). I thought about having strict laws for buying firearms; however, that would not stop gangs from making homemade guns.

Edit: I would like to clarify that the purpose of trying to remove gun is to prevent the likelihood of mass murders. While bats and knives may cause injuries; I believe they are less likely to cause deaths. I simply do not want luck to be the only reason why the main character has a successful criminal career. I feel like guns would take the hard work out of success for a criminal.

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    $\begingroup$ It what country? it is far harder to do in the US than say the UK or Japan. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 14 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Still, can you add more information about the existing gun laws in your made up country? For country that people can buy guns whenever they like (USA, Russia...), and for country that guns are illegal themselves (China, Japan...), the situation will be totally different. $\endgroup$ – Chenxi GE Aug 14 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe just say guns were never invented $\endgroup$ – FluxedScript Aug 14 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ Look up Eurpean football hooliganism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_hooliganism $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 14 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ There are mass murders with knives too. There was one just last week in the US if I recall, someone murdered 5 or 6 people with a knife. A few years back I recall a really bad knife mass murder where someone ran through a crowded area stabbing everyone they passed - I think they got more than 100 people, worse than mass shootings, and at least some of them probably died - I think that might have been in China. Knives might be difficult in some ways, but if you have plenty in melee range and they don't run screaming (as they do when they hear gunshots) then knives have advantages too. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 15 at 16:30

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My home country (China) has very strict gun control laws. Basically, normal citizen will not be allowed to buy, sell guns, or make it themselves. If guns are involved in a crime case (say, robbery), the consequence will be much more severe. Surely you'll never stop people from making guns themselves, but they won't necessary use guns in conflicts - 6 months in jail for street fight v.s. 10 years if you use guns, what would you choose?

Gangs still exists in China, and they fight using knives, bats, metal bars, etc.

It seems that strict gun control laws can help prevent people using guns in street fights.

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    $\begingroup$ Use comments for suggesting improvements or clarifications on the post. Not to discuss about other topics. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 15 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ Severity of punishment will lower overall gun violence, but not "prevent the likelihood of mass murders" from someone in a mental or emotional state capable of doing so. See, Ash's answer for why gangs in China still adhere to the 'old ways'. tl;dr: honor. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 15 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ Many policemen in China do not even have guns. $\endgroup$ – noɥʇʎԀʎzɐɹƆ Aug 17 at 4:46
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Real life solution - make guns scarce in your society

In a country like US, where there are plenty of guns among the citizens, it's a no-brainer for criminals to use guns too. If they choose melee weapons, they would quickly find themselves bringing a knife to a gunfight.

In a country like UK, where guns are harder to find, criminals largely resort to simpler weapons like knives. This does not necessarily makes UK safer than US, but dynamics of the crime is clearly different. Also note that "serious" criminals would try hard finding the guns anyways.

In addition, you may make gun detection systems ubiquitous (like in "Total Recall" movie), whereas melee weapons would be typically overlooked by automated systems.

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    $\begingroup$ singapore is a better example, permits are extremely hard to get, and just possession without a permit has a 14 year sentence. Use of a firearm in any scheduled offense carries the death penalty. Japan is another example, There are less thn a hundred handguns in private hands in the entire country. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 14 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Actually even among the yakuza handgun ownership is rare they are just to hard to get on the island the penalties are just too high, even the bosses don't want their men to have guns since they can face a life sentence if one of their underlings kills someone with a gun. vox.com/2015/12/3/9845436/japan-gun-homicides $\endgroup$ – John Aug 14 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ When guns are rare or non-existent, illegal gun ownership becomes very obvious and easy to catch. Any citizen or officer who sees someone with a gun will automatically assume it is illegal gun ownership; and they are likely correct. $\endgroup$ – cowlinator Aug 15 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @gmauch the common answer is "they don't". These sports are generally very rare in those countries because it's a hassle to get all the required permits. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 15 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @gmauch You can of course go to a shooting range and shoot a rented gun under supervision if you don't want the permits, and you can get a permit for other reasons besides hunting. Basically it meas to get a gun you have to want one, you have to invest time in training an money in background checks, healthscreening, ect. It means proving and accepting greater responsibility. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 15 at 18:04
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Make bullets hard to get

A length of gal pipe, a nail and some fittings, a person can make a basic zip gun in fifteen minutes with basic tools

A plastic gun can be printed on a home 3d printer.

There is no way of stopping people from making a gun

Bullets on the other hand are a lot harder. Sure people can reload bullets but they still need the powder and the primers. Guns are useless without bullets and firearms would revert back to virtually black powder flintlocks or variant of for the DIY home gunsmith.

Easier for criminals to make crossbows.

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    $\begingroup$ You're referring to ammunition, not bullets, aren't you? $\endgroup$ – UTF-8 Aug 15 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell. Great so after you've fired your ultra powerful flintlock, you spend the next twenty minutes reloading. Talk about miss the point. A flintlock weapon is too slow to be useful against modern weapons plus throw in home made gunpowder it would also be unreliable and without rifled barrels also inaccurate. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Aug 16 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell and I think you miss Thorne's point. It is exponentially easier to 3D print a gun than to manufacture assembled cartridge. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 16 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne, reloads of flintlocks do not take 'minutes', much less "twenty minutes". Even full-size field artillery can be fired, cleaned, reloaded, and ready to fire again in less than a minute given a crew with basic familiarity with the process. A skilled militia-man with a flintlock musket could get off 3-5 shots in a minute. Also, a flintlock pistol with the same power as a Glock wouldn't be "ultra powerful". It would, in fact, be inordinately low-powered $\endgroup$ – Theo Brinkman Aug 16 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ this is some of the most egregious misuse of the term "exponentially" I've ever seen $\endgroup$ – thegreatemu Aug 16 at 19:03
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Guns bring the heat.

To my memory, there have been two firearms crimes in singapore i can remember

One was a gangland hitman with a colourful nickname, he escaped but was hunted down across the border

The other was 3 robbers in a boat that sank, with one rusty gun and not much ammo. They landed on an island where military training was conducted and well... they basically got hunted down by a regiment of infantry and one of police. I suppose it was good training. (The version of the story I remember involved a regiments of guards and the gurkas. One does not mess with the gurkas)

Bunch of folks with swords and baseball bats is affray. Its a pain, police will get involved but its not a big deal. Where I live, any use of firearms in a crime carries the potential of a death sentence.

If the use of firearms basically has cops decending on your turf, with body armour, big guns, armoured vehicles and such... guns don't make sense. You basically just called down the wraith of the authorities on you and they will not stop.

Guns themselves can be simple to build and even possess. But if the 'cost' outweighs the benefit, maybe that crappy sword or baseball bat makes more sense.

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I'm going to suggest that you don't need the gang not to have guns, you need them to not use them. To that end:

It's a gang, gangs have traditions and codes of behaviour like any organisation; more so than many other modern organisations in fact. The gang chooses to settle its internal disputes with feats and competitions of strength and skill, guns don't fit in well with that tradition. Minor disagreements are settled in the ring, with or without gloves, serious infractions will be dealt to with bats and personal disagreements involving direct insults that cannot be forgiven will result in the knives quite literally coming out. The gang has guns but only for combating outsiders that aren't seen as having the same honour. They only use them on members as a statement when someone has done something truly unforgivable and they want to show them to be outside the honour of the gang family.

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    $\begingroup$ This should be the second paragraph of the China answer. I submit that it works because China has "the world's most extreme example of population planning." : One-child policy. "Provincial governments could, and did, require the use of contraception, sterilizations and abortions to ensure compliance, and imposed enormous fines for violations." - It's not gun control, it's population control; guns don't kill people... people kill people. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 15 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ And if you only get one or two, it's extremely likely that the basically country-wide perception of honor (+1) will be adhered to, up to and including the ultimate sacrifice, as was instilled by their parents. The problem isn't what's on TV or game violence, it's that the TV is raising the kid instead of the parent. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 15 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Mazura Good addition, though I think China had the one-child policy, rather than has it. I thought they ended it a few years ago. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 15 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ … looks like it was relaxed some in 2013 and changed to a two-child policy in 2016, but that most people are not taking advantage of the newly increased limit of 2 children. So there is not really much change after all. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 15 at 20:56
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Street gangs are a disposable, deniable part of organized crime.

Sure, criminals can buy illegal guns. From other criminals. As Alexander suggests in his answer, there are not many illegal guns on the market. The illegal guns get used and traded, and with each step in the chain the gun gets more history. The criminal caught holding the gun last might have to answer circumstancial cases for all prior users unless he or she can explain where where the gun came from. That puts the seller at risk if the customer knows the seller, yet selling to an unknown criminal is even more risky -- the fool might do something to get caught.

In one German mass shooting, the perpetrator paid approximately five times the list price for a handgun that was "deactivated," turned into a stage prop, and then "reactivated." Gangs in your setting might have access to guns like that -- dubious quality, murky history, much too expensive to use it on petty crime.

So access to a firearm is a sign of a serious, well-connected OC figure. OC uses guns to settle their internal disputes, or for selected, high-profile crimes, but they won't hold up a liquor store with a firearm. That's what gangs do with knives and baseball bats.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that the gun control laws in Germany aren't even as strong as they could be. There is a very vivid culture of sport shooting and hunting which makes private gun ownership not even that uncommon. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Aug 15 at 8:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp, every legal gun in Germany is registered and subject to spot checks. That means relatively few "get lost" and become illegal guns. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Aug 15 at 17:44
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Your question is essentially "how do I stop criminals from being criminals?" This is tautologically impossible.

The only way to resolve your problem is going to be to make it an "honor among thieves" thing that guns are never to be used. You could make it so that guns are not impossible to get a hold of for a criminal, but that it is generally frowned upon to do so.

Make it so the use of a gun is considered cowardly, and thus your character won't gain the respect he needs rise to the top. It could be an unspoken rule among all the gangs that any ranged weapon is considered cowardly, and disputes are to be solved "face to face in the ring," so to speak. Any member of a gang using a gun promptly loses the protection of his peers, lest all other gangs unite against his gang to neutralize the threat of a gun user in their midst.

As an aside, saying guns will be "too violent" but baseball bats and knives won't is not a plausible scenario. A weapon is only as deadly as the person using it. A baseball bat is quite deadly, and a knife can be more deadly than a gun in a close up melee fight. Just for an example, you can grab a gun, you can't grab a knife, and knives often make worse wounds than bullets.

There are also plenty of ways to be plenty violent without using a gun. Recent events show a can of gasoline and a lighter can be plenty violent, and so can a car. The chemistry of many nerve agents is also quite simple.

So you have to limit the ruthlessness of the gang in the first place to avoid all of these scenarios being used. The only way to do that is to make it less of a "gang" and more of a "tribe" with laws and customs.

This has the added benefit of keeping the government off your back. In this case, the government is willing to turn a blind eye to most of your gang activities since your gangs aren't a threat to their monopoly on guns. So long as no member of a gang uses a gun, the gang itself enjoys less scrutiny from the government and can avoid a crackdown.

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    $\begingroup$ A bit bold to say it's the only solution, when there is real world evidence to the contrary mentioned in other answers. A gun is undeniably more violent than a baseball bat. An untrained person with a gun can lethally injure people at a rate that a guy with a bat will never be able to keep up with. Just because other means are also violent or deadly, including deadlier than a gun in specific situations, does not invalidate this. $\endgroup$ – Spoki0 Aug 15 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Spoki0 Thanks for twisting my words into something I didn't say. I said a knife can be more deadly in close quarters. Perhaps you could do a bit better practicing reading comprehension. The OP made a statement that "guns would make his gang too violent" and thus a reason to avoid guns in his story. This is a flawed assumption to begin with, so simply "avoiding guns" will not get him the world he desires, which is what I am pointing out. $\endgroup$ – stix Aug 15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ "You can grab a gun but not a knife" is a slight exaggeration, but it is indeed easier to manipulate an opponent's melee range gun than it is their knife. As far as knife wounds being deadlier, that is the case for some of the most common gun types used such as .177 and maybe for .22 caliber guns. But there are plenty of popular guns that pack a much meaner punch than that. And the guns that would hurt more, rifles and shotguns, are even more unwieldy in melee. While this answer might exaggerate slightly, it is still mostly true (and got my +1). @Spoki0 is correct, yet answer is still valid. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 15 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Loduwijk Oh, the answer of "honor among thieves to not use guns" is a valid answer, but that doesn't mean no other solution exist, or that the arguments for why it is the only or best solution are all valid. $\endgroup$ – Spoki0 Aug 16 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, silly insults, that'll surely strengthen your position... Assuming the same level of aggression on the criminals, having guns is a huge step up in the level of violence and lethality That's literally the phrase "bring a knife to a gunfight", it's an escalation of arms that generally make things more violent. You also seem to dismiss OPs claim by comparing uneven levels of aggression between the guy with a knife and the guy with a gun. With equal levels of aggression, the guy with the gun is worse on practically every useful metric... $\endgroup$ – Spoki0 Aug 16 at 10:34
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Honor only gets you so far

If gangs have an honor-code about using not using guns, that will last as long as it takes for someone to 'cheat', eliminate their competition and gain a lot of standing/power/influence. Honor based systems only really work in small one-on-one conflicts where there is social standing to be gained. In larger conflicts where social standing isn't a concern, the most effective weapon for eliminating your enemy will be used, namely guns.

This assumes an environment where guns are common and easily accessible. If guns are made sufficiently scarce then gangs will have no choice but to fall back to non-firearm weapons. However, I don't think you can force a group to forgo ranged weapons entirely. Crossbows and bows provide that much needed damage-at-a-distance capability. Aggressive policing to reduce the number of overall guns in society would help a lot. (This assumes that your country doesn't have a super strong gun culture like the one found in the USA.)

If guns are sufficiently scarce then home workshops to create guns would pop up to meet demand. Any gang member should have a strong preference for damage-at-range since distance from the enemy decreases the change of getting hurt. Any gang that can make guns will have an advantage over those that don't. However, the equipment to work metal is heavy and difficult to move. Finding gun underground gun manufacturers should be easier than finding individual guns. 3D printing of guns is even harder to track down. Good luck with that one.

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  • $\begingroup$ The point of OP's question is that "guns make his gangs too violent." Your answer isn't addressing that, it's just replacing guns with a different means of being violent. $\endgroup$ – stix Aug 14 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @stix The OP is asking for a way of restrict violence to melee only. I'm interpreting "guns make gangs too violent" as "guns make it too easy to kill lots of people in a short time frame". Killing people with melee is still violence. I'm not sure where your objection is coming from. Eliminating ranged combat entirely is really difficult since it is so very very old and so very very useful. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 14 at 18:44
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"nearly impossible for the main character to rise in hierarchy without a lot of luck."

I think that this does not follow. Recent movies (e.g. John Wick) and video games (e.g. GTA) have really made it seem as though one needs superhuman powers in order to succeed in this sort of context. However, both real life and fiction teach us that this is not the case. The best solution, IMHO, to overwhelming odds (in the form of guns, or otherwise) is for your character to rely upon neither luck nor superhuman abilities, but to rely upon their wits and will to get them through.

Gain the upper hand through strategy and charisma. Words can be more powerful than the sword, at times. Strategy and Tactics can turn an opponent's advantage to weakness. Use your powerful presence to intimidate and bend others to your will.

Greatness does not follow from simply being able to efficiently batter your enemies. A compelling hobo-to-honcho story has its share of bravery in the face of adversity, but requires equal doses of sheer will and brains.

Challenge yourself to neither dispose of guns nor to rely on extreme luck for the main character. A little luck is fine, but the character needs to spin those lucky breaks to their advantage in the story ("I totally meant to do that"). Other characters in the story will then interpret that luck as power, and once you have peons to fight your battles for you, personal luck becomes a much less necessary ingredient for future success. After all, you want your character to rise in the hierarchy. If they are a higher-up, then they are delegating all of the really dangerous stuff, and get to spend their time telling the grunts that they need to go raise heck on a Saturday.

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You're going to have to have some pretty tight controls on the machine tools that could be used to make a gun.

However, I think there's a simpler way: Forget about guns, focus on ammunition. While people do reload ammunition they are using commercially manufactured primers and powder to do so. While a simple gun could be produced in any decent metalworking shop and sophisticated stuff could be produced with a CNC machine (which are becoming more and more affordable) the primers and powder can't be made with workshop level equipment. Both must be done with considerable care to avoid blowing yourself up and if you want reliable ammunition it must be high quality also.

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Culture + restrictions

Anything to make the change staring now would take a while to catch up. However, with enough time and persistence you can achieve no or very reduced gun ownership. Assuming you achieved it, then the biggest factors are:

Culture

The people just don't want guns. This has to be rooted into history somehow but you can't really achieve less-gun owning population without a buy-in from the population. So, the people themselves should shun guns. It doesn't need to be outright revulsion but it would be abnormal to have a firearm. This will help reinforcing itself - even if some people have guns, that would still stand out. You can have, say, military who are trained and use firearms but the general population still wouldn't need or want them.

Restrictions

Owning a gun should also be regulated heavily. This is easier to do if it's hard to get more guns inside the country - for example, an island nation can monitor all or most guns in use more easily than one with a large land border where you can smuggle weapons. Still, the less guns you have the easier would be to spot if any illegal ones are brought in. And if you impose very heavy punishments for illegal gun ownership and even heavier for using said illegal guns, then people, even criminals, would be even less likely to want a gun.

For a criminal, it should actually make their "job" harder - a gun might be reduced to essentially a one-use occasion. Even if a criminal uses one and escapes, then the police would be on the lookout for the criminal and the weapon. People might be frisked on the streets and at travel hubs (bus stations, airports, train stations, etc) thus further inconveniencing the criminal carrying the gun. In an isolated nation (e.g., island) leaving with the gun would be very hard. Due to the culture shunning firearms, the population will also be on the lookout and thus further pressure the criminal not to carry or use the gun again in the near future. Perhaps they next time they get to shoot somebody is when the heat dies down which could take months. That's probably not worth the fuss in the majority of cases.

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  • $\begingroup$ On your "culture" thing: When westerners brought firearms to Japan, they were (after a while) decried as "dishonourable" (partly because made the common people able to fight on an equal level with the Bushi/Samurai class), and they developed exactly this sort of cultural aversion to firearms. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Aug 15 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal well one of the popes (forgot which) shun crossbows for a similar reason. With it, any common peasant could injure and even kill a noble, without much effort. So, even in the west there was this notion at one point. Not as widely spread, as crossbows were used despite that pope but still. Even today in a lot of Eurapean countries gun ownership is not exactly "normal". At least not nearly on the same level as the USA. Certainly a civilian owning a firearm is rather the exception, unless you have a good reason (e.g., you go hunting regularly). $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 15 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ If we go into history, I'm told that the Swiss invented the "can opener". Better known as the halberd - a combined spear and battle axe, a weapon perfectly designed to kill heavily armed knights. "Can opener" suggests how it worked, with the knight's armour being the can. The knights really didn't like the idea that peasants would slaughter them instead of getting slaughtered themselves. $\endgroup$ – gnasher729 Aug 17 at 15:01
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Set your society as in a slightly dystopian future, one that emphasizes certain negative aspects of the USA's culture. In US pop culture, homicides committed against the poor are often take the back burner compared to middle class/upper class homicides (there is only so much budget, wall of silence, its just a bunch of bad guys killing each other, etc...). Exaggerate this problem, make your police ignore crimes, including murder: as long as it happens in the slums, and obeys certain unspoken rules.

Make one of these unspoken rules be no guns. (As guns have a tendency to travel far when they miss, in densely populated areas this can be very dangerous). Have the police crack down with iron boots whenever a gun is used. Stamping all of the gangs in the area (an any innocent bystanders) into a bloody pulp.

This will make the gangs self police the use of guns. As any gang that uses guns will bring the hammer of justice down (hard) on everyone. Which makes using a gun a stupid idea, because your fellow gang members will be first in line to slit your throat and present your body to the local station with roses and an apology, so that the break of the code is ignored. You can add in references to the purge that happened in '29 or some other fictitious event, that explains why your criminals don't use guns.

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  • $\begingroup$ But then wouldn't such a society be too hopeless? Why would low class people tolerate such vast inequality? $\endgroup$ – Sam Joseph Aug 14 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ They would tolerate it because they have in the past. As long as the violence and crime stayed in the ghetto, the police stayed out of the ghetto. $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Aug 14 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ In The 100 the residents of Mount Weather would target a missile at anyone who picked up a gun, so the Grounders had a tradition of leaving guns alone that outlived the destruction of Mount Weather. (the tradition was notably absent after the second nuclear disaster when they emerged from their bunker) $\endgroup$ – Simon Gibbs Aug 15 at 9:41
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The single most effective country at keeping guns from the hands of criminals and gangs is Japan. They do so through the following:

  1. Guns are banned. Carrying a gun is, in and of itself, illegal.
  2. Ammunition is banned. Carrying ammunition is, in and of itself, illegal.
  3. Any search that finds contraband, like guns or ammunition, is a valid search.

This is why Japan has a lower incidence of gun use than even someplace like the United Kingdom, where guns are heavily regulated. The exceptions to these are quite narrow. Movies filming in Japan typically have to film their gun scenes in other countries as a result.

Also realize that you need all three parts. Guns are frequently banned to criminals in the United States, but criminals still get guns. Further, if they use guns and the police are in hot pursuit, they may still get away. Because if they are out of the police's sight for a moment, they can pass the gun off to someone else. The police can't search that someone else, because that would be considered an invalid search in the US (the exclusionary rule).

In a similar situation in Japan, the police would search everyone and finding the gun would justify the search of that particular person. So the gun can always be used in evidence. This increases the deterrent value of gun laws, as people who carry guns are more likely to get caught. So there is little value to smuggling a gun into the country when using it will often get the offender caught.

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You setting could be the deterrent. Place it on a space station surrounded by hard vacuum. Or under a dome on Venus. You have a lot of variety in where to place your society.

A firearm in some place where a stray round could quite literally kill millions is one hell of a deterrent for anything that relies on high velocity projectiles. Creating hull breaches, especially close to where the fight is, is just a bad idea.

Firearms will likely be strictly controlled if catastrophic damage to the structure is a likely outcome of pitched gun battles.

So your guy will grow and learn in a place where firearms and ammo are not readily available, and their use is an extremely bad idea, but other methods of killing are available settle up with rivals.

You are also going to want to include some of the other great ideas here and set it in a tight organized crime scenario to reduce the likelihood of sprays of machine gun fire. Mass murder is bad for business. Make it known that the higher up criminals will make you die slowly and in pain if you violate that.

Sadly, Mass Murder is not a function of the tools at hand but of the insanity of humans. You aren't going to be able to get rid of that. You only have to look at history for that. Entire cites were killed down to the last individual by Ghengiz Kahn. That was done with human powered weapons. In Oklahoma city, 160 people were killed by a madman with a truckload of fertilizer. In London a guy with a rental truck and a knife killed and wounded dozens. NYC, 3000 killed by madmen with boxcutters aboard a couple of commercial flights. Evil people will find a way. Guns may be convenient, but not necessary for evil.

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You get manufacturing equipment makers to cooperate with you

As of right now, in real life, most printers have software that detect the presence of the EURion constellation on banknotes (a pattern of symbols incorporated into a number of banknote designs worldwide since about 1996) and make it unable to scan/photocopy currencies.

You could do the same with gun parts. Most of the core pieces of a modern rifle/handgun are machined using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment nowadays. Assuming your fictional world has similar technology they will likely be manufactured the same way, just restrict some items from being manufactured by usign a similar trick as the EURion constellation.

This step could be taken at the CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software level, which is the point at which the computer takes the design and converts it into a series of instructions (G-code) that the machine will follow to make it. Incorporate some form of shape recognition functionality to and restrain the the software from generating G-code for core components (lower/upper receivers for example).

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    $\begingroup$ "just restrict some items from being manufactured by usign a similar trick as the EURion constellation" - This only works for copies, where the signal you're checking for is part of the original. I.e. custom banknotes made in Photoshop work just fine. Good luck defining a pattern that matches parts required for all gun designs. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 16 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ That's why I specified shape recognition funtionality, not just exact match to a predefined pattern. Most gun owners would be able to look at a gun receiver of any gun make/model and say "yep, that's a gun part." Just incorporate that functionality into CAM software before it generates the gcode and make it say "yep, not gonna make that." 2D image recognition can do impressive things in our world today, it's not a far stretch to apply it to 3D models in a fictional setting. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Aug 16 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ You're assuming that there's only one way to make a gun. If a specific part isn't available, you can change the design. We re-use basic designs because they're well understood, but if they weren't available, people would just settle for something a little less reliable. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 19 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ @RutherRendommeleigh that's why I specified shape recognition. Even if you alter it, it would recognize it as being a lower receiver, for example. It wouldn't have to be a match to a specific pre-loaded model. It would completely halt any manufacturing using CNC machinery. Of course you can still use hand tools and file away at a block of aluminium or fold sheet metal and make whatever you want, but those are impossible to stop unless you remove the basic tools that allow us to have a basic level of technology. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Aug 19 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ "Even if you alter it, it would recognize it as being a lower receiver, for example." - Only if you make a lower receiver. Which isn't really required for making a gun. If you're not looking for top performance, you can replace any part or mechanism with something that looks entirely different, but serves the same purpose. The range of "this could be used to make a gun" is far too broad for just shape recognition to reliably classify. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 19 at 13:51
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Everyone on here seems to be going the way of how to remove guns so I am going to go the opposite way. Make it mandatory that all heads of household own a gun and allow concealed/open carry everywhere, like they did in Kennesaw Georgia. Doing so would make it dangerous for criminals to use or even brandish guns without getting shot from the side or behind. In that situation it is better to use a melee weapon so if someone behind you has a gun then you can just surrender with your less threatening weapon. Most people do not want to shoot and kill someone and that can be taken advantage of.

In this situation you cannot run and gun or be crazy. You have to carefully pick your target and blend in. Perhaps catch them when they are not looking and no one is around. Knife to the throat and take away their gun if they have one. Prevent any noise and do not get too greedy where you might get your face plastered everywhere then shot from behind.

One wrong move or getting impatient and you can get shot by any of the random packing civilians everywhere. Effectively your writing a stealth novel and your guy is patient and careful. Silent in, silent out, nothing seen, nothing left.

No need for homemade guns because they could get them if they really wanted to but it is extremely dangerous for them to use them.

http://sharedmedia.grahamdigital.com/photo/2018/03/06/Kennesaw+Georgia+requires+gun+ownership.jpg.jpg_11755124_ver1.0_1280_720.jpg

http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Kennesaw-Georgia.html

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    $\begingroup$ Go in with inferior weapons in the hopes that your enemies will be merciful? That does not sound like a very popular gang strategy. All too often, "one wrong move" will get you shot regardless if you're armed, or guilty. I'd expect gangs in your setting to make heavy use of drive-by shootings, automatic weapons and body armor. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 16 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ The real life example shows that criminals are less likely to use guns in crimes and more likely to use knives or other less dangerous weapons. Not using a gun is a sort of body armor because people are far less inclined to shoot you because your less threatening in their eyes. Criminals are not soldiers they want to get a payday, get out alive, and not be hunted by the national guard. Even when using a gun most criminals don't want to shoot anyone because then they get put on the manhunt list. $\endgroup$ – Adtopkek Aug 16 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ I could see that for, say, a common burglar or pickpocket, but a member of a "serious" gang will expect a shooting anyway (rival gangs will be armed, too), and come prepared. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 16 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ If a gang gets too serious it could incur the wrath of the Military or national guard. They have to stay minor enough for police but major enough to be better than the other gangs. $\endgroup$ – Adtopkek Sep 5 at 19:31
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Sense quick expansions of gases to curb gun crime.

Make the sensing very accurate and automatic.

To get away with violence, can't release compressed gas at a high enough rate to get away with it...so use a club/knife/sword.

This would make crossbows/bows also viable...or manipulation of the sensors : )

I know of no current tech that could do this so its a little hand-wav-ie.

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  • $\begingroup$ I suspect a lot of internal combustion engines and industrial equipment would also get detected by this system... An alternative (using current tech) would be to detect the side-effect of expanding gasses: sound. Have microphones scattered all over the place and detect gunshots. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Aug 20 at 14:22
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Government buybacks work.

New Zealand, to pick one example, bought back more than 10,000 firearms in less than a month.

If that's not good enough for you, keep raising the price. What sort of criminal is going to be packing a gun if the government will pay ten million dollars for it?

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    $\begingroup$ If the government paid ten million for a gun, criminals would start manufacturing them. $\endgroup$ – Stig Hemmer Aug 15 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ @StigHemmer Some government official: "Why does this pistol say 'Smith & Wessen'? That one there is apparently a 'Calt'. And we got a bunch of Kalashnakovs. Guys, I think there is something wrong." $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 15 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ @StigHemmer Also known as the Cobra effect - to reduce the population of venomous cobras in Delhi, the (British Colonial) Government offered a bounty for dead cobras. Unfortunately, some "entrepreneurs" decided to start breeding cobras, so they had an easy supply of dead snakes to hand in. When the Government realised this, they stopped the bounties - so all the breeders released their now worthless snakes into the wild, and the cobra population was higher than when it started. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Aug 15 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @StigHemmer Or enterprising people with access to a hardware store thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/12/22/… $\endgroup$ – Charlie Brumbaugh Aug 15 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be between 1.2m and 1.5m. I would say that having less than 0.1% of guns surrendered is a direct contradiction to your statement that "Government buybacks work". $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Aug 21 at 17:49
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You could have the government televise how arrested gang members, previous owners of illegal weapons, are tortured until death using medieval torture instruments and methods. For example, you could slowly skin someone alive on national television. This, with the warning that anyone caught with guns illegally will suffer the same painful, long, drawn-out death, would be most effective.

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    $\begingroup$ This is going to get your population to revolt, not obey. That, or you'll end up with a police state where people will be too afraid to complain. But you'll still have gangs. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 16 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik revolt against gun bans??? I don't think so $\endgroup$ – Sentinel Aug 16 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Sentinel - Revolt against a government that tortures people to death on TV. $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh Aug 16 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Sentinel I don't think you really understand human beings if you think people would not care. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 16 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ Except torturing your own citizens to death means it does affect them. And the 3rd Reich is an example of the aforementioned "police state where people will be too afraid to complain". $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 19 at 7:28

protected by L.Dutch Aug 17 at 3:29

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