chapter  7
18 Pages

Weapons: what do they do?

This chapter examines disputes about what weapons do; specifically how claims made about the effects of weapons are forwarded vis-a-vis weapon prohibitions. While determining the capabilities of weapons might be thought a fairly undisputable technical undertaking, this is a rather limited way of conceiving of the issues at stake. When it comes to establishing prohibitions, agreement about seemingly 'self-evident' facts often evaporates. Establishing controls on the basis of effects means cutting through complex, uncertain or confusing situations (perhaps involving multiple technologies and individuals) to specify just what is the main cause for certain effects: whether that be the intent of users, the situations of use or the inherent characteristics of the weapons. Assessments made of the primary source of concern affect determinations of what, if any, controls should be enforced. Attempts to deem some weapons as 'indiscriminate' or 'disproportionate' can be and often are questioned as scrutiny turns to the unstated assumptions, categorizations and qualifications informing appraisals.