Some magical handwavium just shut off all guns.

The propellants inside the weapons just don't combust and guns have no usefulness except as blunt objects.

Not all guns break however, spring powered, pneumatic, electromagnetic, and all other types of weapon that don't rely on combustion to launch a projectile still work.

This handwavium somehow doesn't effect motors in cars, etc. Just guns.

How would society change? What would we no long be capable of doing? What can we do now that we couldn't before?

  • $\begingroup$ I suppose an accelerated invention of railguns. $\endgroup$
    – Feyre
    Nov 20, 2016 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Is that realistic? I feel like a surge in pneumatic weapons or coil guns would be more feasible. $\endgroup$
    – 10 Replies
    Nov 20, 2016 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ bgr.com/2015/10/19/handheld-railgun-video-3d-printing $\endgroup$
    – Feyre
    Nov 20, 2016 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ On the short term we'll just buy whatever weapon works the best maybe scorpyd.com on the long term we'll just invent something better $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2016 at 19:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For a look at a successful series with a similar premise, you may want to read S. M. Sterlings Emberverse series. It deals with the complete failure of technology ranging from firearms and explosives to advanced electronics. Not as specific as your question, but it is an excellent resource, and a fun read. $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Nov 21, 2016 at 3:48

3 Answers 3



If guns just stopped working, humans would most probably try to use the acceleration in other devices to launch off a new type of ammunition that doesn't rely on combustion to launch the projectile.


Surprisingly, not much would change

Initially, this would disrupt arms dealers, weapons manufacturers, and most world governments with a standing army. There would be some chaos, some confusion, and blame placed everywhere, but overall the impact would be surprisingly small. Possibly even resulting in an overall reduction in violence worldwide.

Pneumatic guns have been effectively used in combat in the past, and would quickly replace the old style of combustion firearms. If anything, it could instigate more research and money being invested into weapons research in order to bring air guns, railguns, coilguns, lasers, crossbows and other projectile weapons up to the level of effectiveness that current firearms are at.

I would imagine that there would be some tension as the various world leaders scramble for a scapegoat, and others fight each other with crossbows and machetes, but for 1st world countries, the effect would be pulling back all armed forces, retraining them and retrofitting their weapons, then sending them back out and resuming buisness as usual.

This would cause probably 1 to 5 years of restructuring and mild chaos in 3rd world countries (most likely resulting in an overall reduction of casualties since guns are so darned efficient at killing things.) Within 10 years, things would be almost completly back to normal, although weapons would be a bit less effective than what we use today.

The only notable worldwide change is the opportunity for governments to restrict the usage of newly manufactured air guns to military only, allowing for certain countries to make airtight new gun laws in the wake of this bizarre event.


lethal compressed gas rifles do exist, so you would see more improvement and investment in them. so most hunting would continue. Not good for handguns though and not strong enough for the largest game, so not much bear hunting.

for the military you would see a restructuring around melee combat and probably a resurgence of platemail. if bombs still work we would see a lot more use of grenades in combat.


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