Thursday, 30 August 2012

Crowd Sourced

Another cinema, another senseless urban mass-killing. When will it stop, the folks in town had asked.

The answer? Never.

Gun ownership in the land is entrenched. It's a person's right to bear arms. It's IN the Constitution, dummy. Don't beat yourself over it!

But these are modern times, right?. Do we still allow people access to powerful weapons like the semi-automatics?

It's not the guns that kill, stupid. It's the people.... so goes the argument. Meanwhile, people continue to die in the most innocent and unexpected ways.

Ok, so it is going to happen again. Another city, another mad man. Another cinema maybe. Or restaurant. Or supermarket. How about an office? School, more likely.


Bad press, that's what the arms manufacturers will continue to get. We have to do something about it, they say.

Meanwhile, more bad press. An infantry unit in Afghanistan has just shot dead a whole village of locals. Women and children included.

The shit is going to hit the fan on this one, says one weapon company CEO.

Hmm, an opportunity, says another.


Stress - that common enemy of soldiers. They make them do the darnest things. Kill civilians; kill their own; kill themselves.

Let's take that stress away.

What? Stop war?

No, don't kid. We're just one Fortune 500 company.

Then what?

De-weaponise them.

Huh? But we sell weapons!

Decisions lead to stress, stress leads to wrong decisions, more deaths. Wrongful deaths.

That's rather cryptic. Care to explain?

Sure. We split that decision.

What??? That's no explanation!


In the lab, the designers end a meeting. All smiles around. What a simple solution! they all agree, patting each other on the back. Semi. Auto. And now, 'Team'.


In the field, the soldiers reach another village. It's been a long dusty trek. The soldiers are weary. More insurgents to hunt, more houses to search, and more villagers to suspect.

The squad leader stops his troop. He whispers into his intercom. "Switch to Team now", he commands. Click. Click, then another, and another.

The troop enters the village, weapons poised, all clicked. It will take more than one soldier to decide to massacre a village. Impotent, the troop commander muses, but for public relations, we'll play it safe. Much better to watch out for IEDs, he mused, as he scanned the banks of the roads for tell-tale signs. He keeps his hand on his Army-issued Glock.


It's Saturday night, the car park by the cineplex is full. A white car is the last to arrive.

Its boot is soon popped.

The driver he unzips a bag and takes out a handgun. He then removes two more. One piece he tucks into a shoulder holster, the other into his waist belt. He puts on a green camouflage hunting jacket. It's not chilly outside, but a cinema will soon turn cold.

In Cinema 6, a movie is about to begin. It's about a superhero dressed as a bat. Weird, isn't it? A bat is mostly blind, eats and shits upside down. What a choice! Never mind.

Outside Cinema 6, the driver of the white car dons a mask. He throws the doors open and shouts: "The Joker has arrived!" A quick thinking movie-goer mutters: "Oh fuck, not again!" and dives under his seat. The Joker then opens fire.

Screams. Panic. More shots fired.

A beam of light turns on. "Stop," it says, "Or we'll shoot."

A turret in the ceiling turns. A robot-eye has decided to pop a gun barrel out.

"Shoot him!" someone cries. "Yes, shoot him!" another concurs.
"Shoot him! Shoot him! Shoot him!" as more people chorused.

Five concurrences is all it needs, and the gun turret fires. Five shots, five hits. The gunman is dead. Another Joker is dead. The gun turret retracts, barely smoking. The crowd has spoken.


The next morning, news of the shooting in the cinema are all over the various social media. Two dead, including the gunman. Five movie-goers are hailed as heroes. But more than that they are the first to activate a "crowd-sourced defensive weapon" in a public arena. The incident proved that such a weapon can actually work. Better one dead then a roomful, went the refrain. The unfortunate dead victim is hailed as a hero. Senseless, they say. Thank God not more is hurt, they also say.

In Wall Street, that ceiling weapon's manufacturer stock goes up by quite a few Index points.

No one needed to fire a weapon, yet a weapon was fired and a killer dispensed of.  An "instant" payback from the public not s0 hapless anymore.  Responsibility is diluted, everybody's conscience is clear. It is egalitarian, someone said. Heroism is shared.

Heroes that saved the day and survived.

Everywhere, weapons and security company CEOs are smiling and wringing their hands with glee. A new future has begun.

[An original story by TC Lai. Copyrights reserved. Note that graphic is web-sourced.]

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