Trying to convince the people who make their fortunes off every kind of gun, from pistol to AK-47’s, wherever they are used, is like trying to convince an abusive husband that he should give you a divorce. There is another way to control guns without begging for understanding and cooperation from those who lose a fortune if people play nice.
I have learned in my life that people don ‘t take simple solutions seriously, no matter how serious the problem. But this problem involves our children, the people we love and people we see every day, who are all in danger because of some insanely tormented individual who has access to an automatic weapon. Therefore, I plead with humanity to seriously consider this simple solution, and not laugh it off. It will work and it won’t try to pull guns out of the hands of those who fear being taken over in a police state or a military coup d’état.
Here is my solution to the problem of controlling automatic and semi-automatic weapons use in civilian society: Divide all bullet sales into quantity sets. Six bullets for a small hand gun are sealed in ordinary plastic wrap, the kind you need scissors to open. However, any set of more than than six bullets is first sprayed with a solution of powerful synthetic skunk oil, and then sealed in a heavy plastic shrink-wrap. Why synthetic skunk oil? That’s easy. So skunks don’t end up in cages by the zillions nose to nose from start of their lives to finish, as is the case with all animals humanity has a daily need for.
All bullets that are used in automatic or semi-automatic weapons would by law be saturated with the smell of a skunk, then sealed in plastic wrap. When the wrap is opened, the skunk smell is released into the air. Automatic weapons are fine, and people can have them to whatever degree they wish, as long as they are not loaded. As soon as someone takes scissors to this plastic seal clip and has the strange satisfaction of locking and loading, they have automatically sent out a signal to society that they are armed and dangerous. This smell instantly informs everyone for hundreds of feet that the person carrying a bag has a loaded weapon capable of killing many people in a few seconds.
Now we are in a position to see how effective this solution is. A boy discovers, let us say, his parent’s automatic weapon. It is unloaded. He knows where the bullet clip is kept. He is determined to teach someone or many people some lesson based on hatred, resentment, or whatever. He opens the plastic with scissors, and loads the gun. It is now fiercely dangerous.
He must hurry through the house, because the odds are that one of his parents or siblings is sane, and will immediately smell the skunk, literally, and know that in his soccer bag is a loaded automatic weapon. The house will immediately be filled with the skunk smell. This is Checkpoint Number One.
Let’s say that he is alone. He leaves the house with his weapon loaded, and the bus driver opens the door for him. The instant he gets onto the bus, the bus driver smells the skunk oil. He asks the boy to leave, or he lets the boy onto the bus as if nothing is happening, and notifies the police, who meet him a few blocks down the bus route. Everyone else on the bus smells the bullets used only in automatic or semi-automatic weapons, as would become common knowledge, and would quietly but surely leave the bus.
To shorten this obvious scenario, whether this boy is in the school halls, in a public bathroom loading up, in an airport before the inspection occurs, in a classroom, walking on a campus, coming up an elevator in an office building, walking down the street, on rapid transit, in a taxicab, in a dark movie theater, or even at a football game, he is sending out an alarm to people within firing range, about five hundred feet minimally, that he is intending to use an automatic weapon on someone or many people! Cell phones would report this person as he moved wherever he went. Even in a car trunk, it would smell to all of the surrounding cars. Whenever I drive behind a car with someone smoking marijuana in it, I know what quality of grass they are smoking. Smell is a sense that most humans have, deaf or blind, and cars don’t contain strong smells. Skunk oil would cling to the clothes even after the automatic weapon was hidden somewhere, once loaded and ready to use on an innocent crowd.
Anyone hunting with an automatic weapon is a cheater, as most hunters would agree. In such a case, animals would smell a skunk for miles and move away. Hunting with synthetic skunk oil-treated ammunition would become a joke even among hunters, who, as polls show, have no problem with controlling the use of automatic weapons. Most hunters have a strong sense of sportsmanship. There is no sport in shooting a deer with a machine gun. Hunters know this and have integrity. This solution would not affect hunters, as small quantities of hand-loaded bullets would not be treated.
Police and military ammunition would not be treated. However, before police or military released ammunition into the public, the synthetic skunk-oil process would have to take place. How would such a law be performed? Bullet clips and bullet sets that were greater than six shots for a hand gun, would be made illegal by federal, state or local law unless turned into a facility to be sprayed and sealed in plastic before being returned to their owner or sold. If driving a car that has not passed smog requirements is illegal, people can comply to this law as easily, come in with their automatic weapons ammunition and have their bullets treated and sealed. There would be a very stiff fine and possible imprisonment for having automatic and semi-automatic weapon clips of bullets that were not treated. The fine, also, would not be a set amount, but a percentage of annual income amount, or $5000, whichever is greater. Losing 5% of some multimillionaire’s annual net income would hurt anyone enough to not want to be caught with untreated ammunition clips. Possession of untreated bullets would become a tremendous liability even to the wealthiest and most powerful of individuals who would normally not be bothered by a fine of a set amount.
No one would have to try and talk anyone out of their guns. Recall all bullets and reload them into plastic sets of six, and anything over that, spray with synthetic skunk oil and seal them in that plastic that requires scissors to open. That would contain the smell. If someone takes on the terrifying practice of loading an automatic or semi-automatic weapon, everyone around them has the right to know it because it is their life that is being threatened. Such facilities would also create many jobs throughout the country. Ammunition Processing Plants would spring up, and people would pay a small amount for the service, just as we pay for our driver’s licenses or smog checks.
Another side effect would be that if a weapon were fired, investigators could easily know that an automatic weapon had been used, even if the matching bullets were missing. This could help solve a crime where the criminal is unknown. The weapon would have a residual smell.
The intensity level of the skunk odor should be government controlled to be equal to an actual undiluted skunk spray. Military and police weapons should not be treated. For those who want their weapons in order to avoid the possibility of a police or military state takeover, they would still have their weapons. If there were an actual takeover, the smell would be the least of our worries. They could own as many assault weapons as pleased them. That would be a war condition and no one could tell exactly where the smell was coming from. Notice that it is a peaceful situation that provides the backdrop for the mass killings that have taken place, where someone with homicidal intent against innocent people opens fire from the advantage of people trusting one another in public places. No one, in short, who felt a need to be armed against oppression would be unarmed.
Once I was sleeping with my partner at the time when two skunks started a brawl underneath our floor. Both skunks let off their spray. From a sound sleep, my partner and I both realized that our next breath was to be taken only from five hundred feet away, out in the forest-like back yard. She and I ran out into the yard, and I doubled back a number of times, holding my breath, to find warm clothing. We then walked to an all-night restaurant, which was a Top Dog on Euclid Avenue in Berkeley. We ordered coffee and sat as far from others as possible.
One by one and all night long, as people who were all-nighters for one reason or another, back in the Seventies came into the restaurant, they stopped cold at the door, made a terrible face, and yelled out, “Whoa! What is that stink, man?” Eventually we had to confess that, alas, it was we. I know how powerful this odor is. It is only fair that a weapon that can gun down thirty innocent human beings, even children, because someone feels like it, has got to come with social consequences before it is used, not after! I beg anyone reading this to take it seriously. Building social warning into automatic and semi-automatic ammunition to forewarn large numbers of people at a distance that their life is in danger is imperative! Give us all a fighting chance by letting us know that we are walking beside a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner intent on killing us, and not a friendly neighbor! Make automatic and semi-automatic ammunition in civilian hands stink to high heaven so we can make a break for it before we are breaking news!
Ross G. Drago
Cover painting: Detail of Noah’s Ark Mural by Ross G. Drago
Paint Rag Magazine