United States Gun Culture

More mass shootings in the U.S.

How many guns are there in the US?

While calculating the number of guns in private hands around the world is difficult, figures from the Small Arms Survey – a Swiss-based leading research project – estimate that there were 390 million guns in circulation in 2018.

The US ratio of 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, up from 88 per 100 in 2011, far surpasses that of other countries around the world.

More recent data also suggests that gun ownership grew significantly over the last several years. One study, published by the Annals of Internal Medicine in February, found that 7.5 million US adults – just under 3% of the population – became first new gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021.

This, in turn, exposed 11 million people to firearms in their homes, including 5 million children. About half of new gun owners in that time period were women, while 40% were either black or Hispanic.

A separate study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2021, linked a rise in gun ownership during the pandemic to higher rates of gun injuries among – and inflicted by – children.

How do US gun deaths break down?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries of all causes during 2020, the last year for which complete data is available.

And while mass shooting and gun murders generally garner more media attention, of the total, 54% – about 24,300 deaths – were suicides.

A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found there was a strong relationship between higher levels of gun ownership in a state and higher firearm suicide rates for both men and women.

Advocates for stricter gun laws in the United States often cite this statistic when pushing lawmakers to devote more resources to mental health and fewer to easing gun restrictions.

How do US gun killings compare with other countries?

Are mass shootings becoming deadlier?
Deaths from the “mass shootings” that attract international attention, however, are harder to track.

While the country does not have a single definition for “mass shootings”, the FBI has for over a decade tracked “active shooter incidents” in which “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”.

According to the FBI, there were 345 “active shooter incidents” in the United States between 2000-2020, resulting in more than 1,024 deaths and 1,828 injuries.

The deadliest such attack, in Las Vegas in 2017, killed more than 50 people and left 500 wounded. The vast majority of mass shootings, however, leave fewer than 30 people dead.

Futuristic concept aircraft carriers 

Aircraft carriers have always evoked awe and amazement with their size and capabilities of launching airplanes from their giant decks.  Today the giant carriers that patrol the oceans belong to the United States Navy.  These ships displace 100,000 tons and are over a thousand feet long.  The U.S. currently has 11 of these super carriers with another under construction.  Other countries have aircraft carriers but nothing approaching the size of the American ships.

France has carriers less than half the size of the U.S. carriers.  The U.K. has carriers with a displacement of 65,000 tons.  Other than the U.K and France there a few other countries with smaller carriers.  But there are two countries with very big carriers.  Not as big as the U.S. but bigger than the U.K and French ships.  Russia has one and China has another one. 

Admiral Kuznetsov is the Russian carrier.  It displaces 65,000 tons and does limited patrolling in the Mediterranean. 

There was a second carrier of the same design that apparently has landed up in the hands of the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China,  the Varyag.

Varyag being towed in Istanbul.

Varyag was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier of the Soviet Union. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Shipyard 444 (now Nikolayev South) in Nikolayev December 6, 1985.  Design of the carrier was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau.  She was launched December 4, 1988, but she was renamed Varyag (Varangian) in late 1990, after the famous Russian cruiser.

Construction stopped by 1992, with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ownership was transferred to Ukraine; the ship was laid up, unmaintained, then stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems, and was put up for auction.

It was purchased at auction for US$20 million by Chong Lot Travel Agency, a company widely believed to be a front for Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Chong Lot stated that the ship would become a floating entertainment center and casino in the Chinese SAR of Macau. However, this has been proven incorrect as the ship is docked in Dalian and painted PLAN grey. The Chinese Navy has reportedly named the carrier Shi Lang and received delivery of the ship in October 2010.  Defense News and Intelligence sources claim that the ship has been refitted and will be put through Sea Trials in the summer of 2011.

Now that China is about to have an aircraft carrier in its inventory, there are some futuristic concept carrier designs showing up on-line with Chinese colours and aircraft. 

This catamaran design would be very fast in the water and allows for basically 2 carrier megastructures to be fused together.

These giant ships would be giant targets also.  The enemy would throw everything they had at the beast.  These ships would be very susceptible to U.S. cruise missiles and torpedoes.

Taking the futuristic carrier concept to a whole new level is the idea of an aircraft carrier that could fly itself.  A big nuclear powered platform that could fly at high altitude and launch fighter jets and helicopters while airborne.

These renderings show the power plants as giant fans along the sides of these leviathans.  It would be a lot of tonnage to keep in the sky for extended periods.

These giant flying ships would also be very detectable to radar and other sensors.  But maybe they would have a cloaking capability, which would allow them to pass into enemy airspace undetected and unleash the wrath of the fighter bombers zooming off the decks. 

The one below has the power fans running down the centre of the ship.  It looks like a Chinese design.

Russia’s Killer Drone in Ukraine Raises Fears About AI in Warfare

The maker of the lethal drone claims that it can identify targets using artificial intelligence.

KUBBLA AI drone made by Zala Aero Group sitting in launch device with desert landscape in background

A RUSSIAN “SUICIDE drone” that boasts the ability to identify targets using artificial intelligence has been spotted in images of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Photographs showing what appears to be the KUB-BLA, a type of lethal drone known as a “loitering munition” sold by ZALA Aero, a subsidiary of the Russian arms company Kalashnikov, have appeared on Telegram and Twitter in recent days. The pictures show damaged drones that appear to have either crashed or been shot down.

With a wingspan of 1.2 meters, the sleek white drone resembles a small pilotless fighter jet. It is fired from a portable launch, can travel up to 130 kilometers per hour for 30 minutes, and deliberately crashes into a target, detonating a 3-kilo explosive.

ZALA Aero, which first demoed the KUB-BLA at a Russian air show in 2019, claims in promotional material that it features “intelligent detection and recognition of objects by class and type in real time.”

The drone itself may do little to alter the course of the war in Ukraine, as there is no evidence that Russia is using them widely so far. But its appearance has sparked concern about the potential for AI to take a greater role in making lethal decisions.

“The notion of a killer robot—where you have artificial intelligence fused with weapons—that technology is here, and it’s being used,” says Zachary Kallenborn, a research affiliate with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Advances in AI have made it easier to incorporate autonomy into weapons systems, and have raised the prospect that more capable systems could eventually decide for themselves who to kill. A UN report published last year concluded that a lethal drone with this capability may have been used in the Libyan civil war.

It is unclear if the drone may have been operated in this way in Ukraine. One of the challenges with autonomous weapons may prove to be the difficulty of determining when full autonomy is used in a lethal context, Kallenborn says.

The KUB-BLA images have yet to be verified by official sources, but the drone is known to be a relatively new part of Russia’s military arsenal. Its use would also be consistent with Russia’s shifting strategy in the face of the unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, says Samuel Bendett, an expert on Russia’s military with the defense think tank CNA.

Bendett says Russia has built up its drone capabilities in recent years, using them in Syria and acquiring more after Azerbaijani forces demonstrated their effectiveness against Armenian ground military in the 2020 ​​Nagorno-Karabakh war. “They are an extraordinarily cheap alternative to flying manned missions,” he says. “They are very effective both militarily and of course psychologically.”

The fact that Russia seems to have used few drones in Ukraine early on may be due to misjudging the resistance or because of effective Ukrainian countermeasures.

But drones have also highlighted a key vulnerability in Russia’s invasion, which is now entering its third week. Ukrainian forces have used a remotely operated Turkish-made drone called the TB2 to great effect against Russian forces, shooting guided missiles at Russian missile launchers and vehicles. The paraglider-sized drone, which relies on a small crew on the ground, is slow and cannot defend itself, but it has proven effective against a surprisingly weak Russian air campaign.

This week, the Biden administration also said it would supply Ukraine with a small US-made loitering munition called Switchblade. This single-use drone, which comes equipped with explosives, cameras, and guided systems, has some autonomous capabilities but relies on a person to make decisions about which targets to engage.

But Bendett questions whether Russia would unleash an AI-powered drone with advanced autonomy in such a chaotic environment, especially given how poorly coordinated the country’s overall air strategy seems to be. “The Russian military and its capabilities are now being severely tested in Ukraine,” he says. “If the [human] ground forces with all their sophisticated information gathering can’t really make sense of what’s happening on the ground, then how could a drone?”

Several other military experts question the purported capabilities of the KUB-BLA.

“The companies that produce these loitering drones talk up their autonomous features, but often the autonomy involves flight corrections and maneuvering to hit a target identified by a human operator, not autonomy in the way the international community would define an autonomous weapon,” says Michael Horowitz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who keeps track of military technology.

Despite such uncertainties, the issue of AI in weapons systems has become contentious of late because the technology is rapidly finding its way into many military systems, for example to help interpret input from sensors. The US military maintains that a person should always make lethal decisions, but the US also opposes a ban on the development of such systems.

To some, the appearance of the KUB-BLA shows that we are on a slippery slope toward increasing use of AI in weapons that will eventually remove humans from the equation.

“We’ll see even more proliferation of such lethal autonomous weapons unless more Western nations start supporting a ban on them,” says Max Tegmark, a professor at MIT and cofounder of the Future of Life Institute, an organization that campaigns against such weapons.

Others, though, believe that the situation unfolding in Ukraine shows how difficult it will really be to use advanced AI and autonomy.

William Alberque, Director of Strategy, Technology, and Arms Control at the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that given the success that Ukraine has had with the TB2, the Russians are not ready to deploy tech that is more sophisticated. “We’re seeing Russian morons getting owned by a system that they should not be vulnerable to.”

Wired.com

Dirty Harry has a bigger gun. Or does he?


Dirty Harry can now upgrade to a bigger handgun.  The .44 Magnum that Harry used was very powerful.  It could take down a punk rapist at 150 meters and if it hit the punk in the head, it would take it clean off.  Even if it winged a slimy street robber it would take out such a big chunk, that the robber punk would be neutralized.

But now there is a bigger cannon on the block.  The Model 500 from Smith & Wesson is the biggest, heaviest, most powerful factory-production double-action revolver in the world. It’s built on an entirely new and massive S&W frame size. It fires the new .500 S&W Magnum cartridge, which is the most powerful factory load ever developed specifically for handgun use. The gun and the cartridge are both impressive product accomplishments, beyond the industry norm, and both moved together from concept to reality in less than a year.

This gun is 34 percent more powerful than the .44 Magnum.  If Dirty Harry used this weapon he could take down a rogue elephant at 200 meters.  Or splatter bad boy punk street slime all over the side of a building at 250 meters.  This bazooka fires a 50 caliber cartridge.  The .500 Magnum would very definitely make Dirty Harry’s day.

 The .500 Magnum (top) compared to the .44 Magnum.

“Atomic Annie”

The M65 atomic cannon, often called “Atomic Annie“, was a towed artillery piece built by the United States and capable of firing a nuclear device. It was developed in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, and fielded, by 1953, in Europe and Korea.

Picatinny Arsenal was tasked to create a nuclear capable artillery piece in 1949. Robert Schwartz, the engineer who created the preliminary designs, essentially scaled up the 240mm shell (then the maximum in the arsenal) and used the German K5 railroad gun as a point of departure for the carriage. (The name “Atomic Annie” likely derives from the nickname “Anzio Annie” given to a German K5 gun which was employed against the American landings in Italy.) The design was approved by the Pentagon, largely through the intervention of Samuel Feltman, chief of the ballistics section of the ordnance department’s research and development division. A three-year developmental effort followed. The project proceeded quickly enough to produce a demonstration model to participate in Dwight Eisenhower’s inaugural parade in January 1953.

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The cannon was transported by two specially designed tractors, both capable of independent steering in the manner of some extra-long fire engines. Each of the tractors was rated at 375 hp, and the somewhat awkward combination could achieve speeds of 35 miles an hour and negotiate right angle turns on 28 ft wide, paved or packed roads. The artillery piece could be unlimbered in 15 minutes, then returned to traveling configuration in another 15 minutes.

On May 25, 1953 at 8:30am, the atomic cannon was tested at the Nevada Test Site (specifically Frenchman Flat) as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test — codenamed “Grable” — was attended by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur W. Radford and Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson; it resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (W9 warhead) at a range of seven miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon (the Little Feller 1 test shot of an M388 used a Davy Crockett weapon system which was a recoilless smooth bore gun firing the warhead mounted on the end of a spigot inserted in the barrel of the weapon.)

After the successful test, there were at least 20 of the cannons manufactured at Watervliet and Watertown Arsenals, at a cost of $800,000 each. They were deployed overseas to Europe and Korea, often continuously shifted around to avoid being detected and targeted by opposing forces. Due to the size of the apparatus, their limited range, the development of nuclear shells compatible with existing artillery pieces (the W48 for the 155mm and the W33 for the 203mm), and the development of rocket and missile based nuclear artillery, the M65 was effectively obsolete soon after it was deployed. However, it remained a prestige weapon and was not retired until 1963.

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The kind of monstrous weapons the Cold War spurned is mind boggling.

North Korea launches ballistic missile at North America

After doing some bad methamphetamine, Kim Jong Un and his brown nosing generals decide to hit the U.S. with their new long-range missile the KN-08. The intended target was either Los Angeles or San Francisco according to RAND Corporation analysts.

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The missile guidance system fails, as predicted by Stephen Colbert, and lands a thousand miles to the north. The missile and its nuclear warhead land in southern Alberta, Canada. Barley missing blowing up a herd of 10,000 black Angus cattle.

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It is time Canada gets on board with the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system.

There is still too many nuclear weapons in the world 

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Nine countries together possess more than 15,000 nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia maintain roughly 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning. Most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the effects persisting for decades.

Size comparison of nuclear explosions

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The failure of the nuclear powers to disarm has heightened the risk that other countries will acquire nuclear weapons. The only guarantee against the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them without delay. Although the leaders of some nuclear-armed nations have expressed their vision for a nuclear-weapon-free world, they have failed to develop any detailed plans to eliminate their arsenals and are modernizing them.

COUNTRYNUCLEAR PROGRAMMESIZE OF ARSENAL
United StatesThe first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only country to have used them in war. It spends more on its nuclear arsenal than all other countries combined. 6,970 warheads
RussiaThe second country to develop nuclear weapons. It has the largest arsenal of any country and is investing heavily in the modernization of its warheads and delivery systems. 7,300 warheads
United KingdomIt maintains a fleet of four nuclear-armed submarines in Scotland, each carrying 16 Trident missiles. It is considering whether to overhaul its nuclear forces or disarm. 215 warheads
FranceMost of its nuclear warheads are deployed on submarines equipped with M45 and M51 missiles. One boat is on patrol at all times. Some warheads are also deliverable by aircraft. 300 warheads
ChinaIt has a much smaller arsenal than the US and Russia. Its warheads are deliverable by air, land and sea. It appears to be increasing the size of its arsenal at a slow pace. 260 warheads
IndiaIt developed nuclear weapons in breach of non-proliferation commitments. It is increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal and enhancing its delivery capabilities. 100–120 warheads
PakistanIt is making substantial improvements to its nuclear arsenal and associated infrastructure. It has increased the size of its nuclear arsenal in recent years. 110–130 warheads
IsraelIt has a policy of ambiguity in relation to its nuclear arsenal, neither confirming nor denying its existence. As a result, there is little public information or debate about it. 80 warheads
North KoreaIt has a fledgling nuclear weapons programme. Its arsenal probably comprises fewer than 10 warheads. It is not clear whether it has the capability to deliver them.<10 warheads
Total15,350 warheads
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I came across a British tabloid site that had an article on where is the best places on the planet to survive a nuclear war. The list is funny, to say the least.

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Kansas City! Kansas City is a major American population center. It undoubtedly would be targeted by the Russians.

The island of Guam in the eastern Pacific is a United States territory. It hosts a major American nuclear submarine base and thousands of Marines. Without a doubt, it is targeted.

Cape Town and Antarctica would possibly be safe places. But after the world economy and infrastructure is destroyed. Who do the residents of these places deal with? Tristan Da Cunha would be the safest place on the list.

Isle of Lewis, Iceland, Bern and the Yukon: These places wouldn’t be targets, but they would have to contend with a 5 year nuclear winter of 24 hour dark skies and intense fallout radiation. Not good places. 

The key here is that these horrible weapons are built for deterrent. Nobody wants to use them, there would be no winner. And with the safeguards in place it is highly unlikely responsible nations would accidently launch a nuclear attack. However, there is rogue countries with the bomb like North Korea, and to a lesser extent Pakistan. Kim Jong-Um is a very deranged and scary individual. He could do anything. Another concern is if terrorists would get their hands on a weapon. There would not be any second thoughts by those radical extremists to try and use a bomb.

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