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When I came of age, American gun industry manufacturers still legally built machine guns for any private citizen who cared to pay the transfer tax. Oddly, automatic weapons were commonplace while suppressors were rare. Semi-auto versions of the world’s popular military weapons flowed in from overseas essentially unfettered. School shootings were not a real thing and the Internet was but a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.

Back then only cops and criminals carried guns. The idea of an armed populace going about its daily business while packing heat was literally unimaginable. Small, concealable handguns were little more than novelties, while the magnum revolver was the tool of choice for most anybody serious about their craft.

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Now more than 14 million Americans hold a concealed carry permit, and guns and ammunition for sale to Americans is one of the few domestic industries that seems immune to significant market fluctuations. After eight years under the most anti-gun president in American history, interest in firearms and personal protection has literally never been higher.

Kalashnikov rifles are built from scratch right here at home, and more than 20 million copies of Eugene Stoner’s black rifle are currently in circulation.

Black rifles and sound suppressors are acceptable water cooler chatter from sea to shining sea. While guns and tactical gear are more prevalent in American society than ever before, we seem to have reached a plateau of sorts. It is therefore a curious exercise to imagine where things might go from here?

Guns Need to Get Quieter

It is well beyond time that sound suppressors were deregulated in America. There are just shy of one million sound suppressors registered in the National Firearms Registry. Despite so many of these things already in circulation you are six times more likely to be killed by a shark in America than by a sound suppressed firearm. Can s for .22s are already available over the counter in France—that’s just embarrassing. Even ATF has come out in favor of deregulating sound suppressors.

Sound suppressors need to be sold over the counter in blister packs at your local Wal-Mart. They make firearms training of all flavors safer and reliably cut down on noise pollution. For those of us who actually understand what sound suppressors are and are not, there really is no sensible reason to continue to regulate and tax these otherwise benign devices.

We Are Weary of AR15s

Eugene Stoner’s space age masterpiece is an undeniably great weapon. However, the design is more than 60 years old and there is already one AR in circulation for every 12 Americans. It is high time we saw something fresh and new.

All the best gun designs were spawned in the private sector. Private companies or civilians in pursuit of monetary gain designed the 1911 pistol, the Thompson submachine gun, the M1 Carbine, and the AR-15. Now that the American civilian market rivals the military in raw lucre, I would like to see the next generation defensive weapons produced with us in mind.

Perfect world, I’d like my very own phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range. If you don’t recognize that reference from “The Terminator” put down your computer and go watch the movie. It’ll change your life.

While on the subject of movies, the M41 Pulse Rifle from the movie “Aliens” could be a viable commercial project that would actually have law enforcement and military potential. While the movie props were constructed using Thompson submachine guns and Remington 870 pump-action shotguns, the same dual-role concept built around a more contemporary pair of lightweight actions would bring some legitimately fresh capabilities to entry teams, security-minded civilians, and beat cops. Advances in lightweight polymers are now at the point where such a gun could be done viably.

What we really need is the etymological equivalent of a Glock rifle. Build us a family of long guns that is revolutionary of design, overwhelmingly polymer, breathtakingly lightweight, and priced for the masses. Make it modular, customizable, and reliable. Most importantly, make it look different. Tomorrow’s successful revolutionary long gun needs to look like it fell off the set of the latest “Star Wars” installment.

Take Advantage When ATF Is in a Good Mood

The advent of the Pistol Stabilizing Brace has rendered the registered short-barreled rifle obsolete. I’d like to see more guns designed from the ground up around this remarkable contrivance. The sliding PSB on the Sig MPX is a great example of the genre.

The new category of Title 1 (not requiring a transfer tax) firearm exemplified by the Mossberg Shockwave and its 14-inch barrel also bears exploration. It seems to me that this basic concept has great promise regarding various firearm actions in various chamberings. The guys in the gun industry are smart. I’d love to have them wow me with these things and their progeny.

Think Way Outside the Box

For the past century-and-a-half, the point of the exercise has been to expel a projectile by means of combustible explosive stored within a metallic case. Our laws are even crafted around this technology. In the absence of affordable man-portable directed energy weapons, it would be cool to see reasonably priced polymer-cased ammunition.

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I appreciate that bringing an entirely new cartridge to market along with the guns to fire it is a daunting economic challenge. However, a centerfire .17-caliber autoloader that fed from a 40-round box magazine and pushed a 20-grain jacketed bullet to previously unimagined velocities while producing no recoil worthy of the term would just be too cool for school. I have a .17-caliber AR from Alexander Arms that is just about as much fun as you can have without attractive company. The fact that ammo is expensive and the magazines only hold 10 rounds is a buzz-wrecker.

I could go on for days, but that’s where I’d start. The star of the 2020 SHOT Show should look like a “Star Wars” blaster, run like a scalded ape, fire something new, fast, and unusual that is still cheap when bought in bulk, and not cost as much as my first car. It should also be quiet, short, and legal. Bring something like that to market and we rabid gun nerds will beat a path to your door.

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