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So I've asked a question about powered armor specifically as a solution here, and largely rejected that solution, but I can’t shake the feeling that I want a setting without guns. What is the best way to get rid of them for something like a somewhat less violent cyberpunk setting using plausible near-future technology?

The obvious solution is probably just political factors that lead to a reduction in the number of guns, but without technology to support whatever group is taking away guns, it is all but an impossible problem logistically. So, what is a good approach?

Infomocracy by Malka Older gives one solution, in which a device that makes guns virtually impossible to use is developed. It's called a Lumper, and uses targeted magnetic fields to make it impossible for guns to fire given the precise mechanical action required for each shot. I really don't see how it could actually work, and would prefer something more plausible, but it is an interesting sort of handwave.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please have a look at previous questions on similar topics already asked, such as how to prevent criminals having guns, how to prevent guns being used in a post-apocalyptic world etc. Short answer: can't be done without eliminating the last 500-1000 years of technology. If you actually mean how to stop particular elements of the population having guns then please specify, noting that the question about stopping criminals having guns has already been asked. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Mar 8 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly is the effect you want to achieve? Even if it just "no guns because reasons" having that world wide or in a one city are two different problems. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 8 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ There's a question here with related answers, if you trawl down the list you may find something usefull. $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Mar 8 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ Also the answers to this question $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Mar 8 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ Is your goal to render guns completely ineffective, or just irrelevant to your main characters. I'm imaging something like Ghost in the Shell, or The Matrix. The main characters will use guns to clear out low-level enemies, but high-level combatants are mostly immune to most gunfire. The Matrix is pretty setting specific, but if your setting allows for GitS style brain in a robot body (or better yet, Altered Carbon style small chip near the brainstem). Even in the US, a fully cyborg body might plausibly be able to shrug off the hits from guns civilians/low level crooks might plausibly have. $\endgroup$ – Zwuwdz Mar 8 at 18:20
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Set in in the UK or another country where gun crime is extremely uncommon.

Carrying guns makes absolutely no sense for cyber-criminals in this country, and its hard to see what changing.

Of course it's mainly legal factors, but culture comes into it as way. I don't think guns are going to go out of fashion in the US for a while, but in a future UK as detection and tracking methods improve they may become even rarer than today.

There's no technological method to stop people from using guns. Technqiues like networks of gunshot detectors, as used in some US cities, allow cops to zero in on gun crime very rapidly, but of course more savvy crooks will be using suppressors.

If you insist, you might have networked sensors that detect the rapid expansion of plasma whenever a firearm is discharged, so anyone using a gun is immediately pinpointed and targeted by rapid-response police drones. But it would be better if people were just smart enough not to use guns.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that if the setting requires a lot of crime, then there will be guns. There are very few guns in private hands in the UK, but if violent crime between powerful organizations became commonplace, they would acquire guns, no matter how forbidden they are. $\endgroup$ – vsz Mar 8 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly there is still plenty of violent crime in the UK -- but even organised criminals rarely use firearms. Like criminals in the US rarely use grenade launchers. $\endgroup$ – David Hambling Mar 9 at 18:21
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In Frank Herbert's Dune, everyone carries personal shields as well as having strong societal and political taboos against certain types of technology making their use suicidal for any faction large enough to actually get them. Thus a large range of weapons including ranged weapons such as nuclear missiles, artillery, guns, bombs, etc are universally unused thus all combat is melee. This helps to keep warfare and the society as a whole technologically advanced but medieval almost chivalric with noble houses fighting against each other with clear rules of engagement enforced with harshly by the Landsraad.

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    $\begingroup$ Nuclear weapons being taboo doesn't eliminate guns. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 8 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica♦ I used nuclear weapons just as an example. $\endgroup$ – turoo Mar 8 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @turoo if you used it as an example, then could you make that clear and show how it can be used as an example in your answer? $\endgroup$ – Fivesideddice Mar 8 at 10:36
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    $\begingroup$ The answer is a bit unclear on why guns aren't used in Dune universe - it's because of a specific technology that enables cheap and widespread personal shields that confer near-perfect protection against pretty much all types of guns, but not (appropriately used) melee weapons. If every soldier or high-value civilian is immune to guns, then that means that guns become a rare curiosity with only niche use cases, because melee weapons are simply better, more effective than guns in this environment. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Mar 8 at 17:39
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The point of steampunk usually seems centered on the absence of proper combustion mechanics or materials, but has a disproportionate amount of power in steam engines. Imagine if you dont have explosive material that can push a bullet, shell or canonball without destroying the weapon itself (lets say all explosives are also corrosive and limit guns to only a few shots). This means you can still have bombs but only limited gun-type weapons.

Or maybe the explosives have a limited lifespan, or are unstable and can explode at unpredictable times. Some steampunk also allows control over electrical weapons to attack your opponents with, which could be used to detonate explosives on opponents rendering guns a liability. There's tons of choices.

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In Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, gun regulation and metal detectors are ubiquitous - hence the antagonist uses weaponry made of glass to murder people.

Law enforcement is made through the usage of robotic dogs that move so fast as to be practically invisible. They are so efficient that anyone once deployed anyone with a gun on their hand gets dismembered before they can blink, so people don't usually carry.

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Re. the suggestion that suppressors can defeat ubiquitous listening devices by making guns silent: no, this is movie fantasy. See eg

https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/11/gun-silencers-dont-make-them-anywhere-near-silent/

, for most commercially available fire arms and cartridges, this ends up only reducing the noise level to somewhere in the range of 130-150-ish dB for a supersonic cartridge and 117-130-ish dB for a subsonic cartridge. For reference on just how loud that is, an ambulance or police siren is typically between 100-140 dB. So this isn’t exactly the “whoosh” sound Hollywood depicts. Given that hearing loss can occur as low as 85 dB,

...If you want Neo New York to be gun free, you just scatter the place with AI monitored gun shot detectors controlling drones.

(Also: the USA isn't the world. Europe, China and Japan are practically free of gun crime and just as valid as locations for cyberpunk futures...)

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Aubsence or rarity of the compounds that are used to make guns or bullets for example if sulfur were very rare in this world gunpowder would be very rare to come by. Technology that renders guns almost useless like a kinetic shield that deflect low mass but high speed projectiles.

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