In my last post I spoke of how we are coming close to possessing some of the technology from Star Trek. The most important one of course is unlimited electrical power, but the little cool gadgets that the characters carried on their person, like the communicator and Tricorder are widely available. I also stated that I wanted a phaser to make my childhood dreams complete. This got me to thinking, what if we did have access to Star Trek like phasers?
First I feel I have to get something off my chest about the phasers in Star Trek. How do they aim the damn things? This has bugged me since I was a kid. There are no sights, but somehow the characters are incredibly accurate with the things. I believe this is a holdover from the old westerns where the gun slingers and lawmen would shoot from the hip and magically disarm their opponents without hurting anyone.
Anyway, back to the phasers. One of the things I like best about the old Star Trek phasers is their ability to stun an opponent without any permanent harm. From my recollection of old episodes the phasers could actually be set to different stun settings, mild to strong. On the mild setting it seems that the phaser would incapacitate only for a few seconds and leave the victim feeling “woozy” until the effects wore off. On the strong setting the victim would be out for hours. It also appeared that the area of effect was pretty wide, pin point accuracy didn’t seem to be an issue, all the crew member had to do was point the phaser in the general direction of the subject and the victim would drop like a wet sack of rice. However in other episodes an actual beam came out of the phaser that was rather narrow more like a laser than a flashlight.
So let’s stipulate that the phaser actually emits a beam that the user can adjust in power to supply various less than lethal power settings and he must hit the target in order to “stun” effectively. In today’s culture what would happen if phasers were introduced?
One would have to assume that the first to get to utilize this technology would be the military. Then our police forces would request these devices to replace the Taser. Eventually phasers would find their way to the general public.
I imagine that they would be widely accepted as an alternative to possessing firearms for self-defense. Most people are reluctant to carry a firearm, the consequences of using one are quite serious and most people can’t imagine using lethal force to stop a robber. Taking a person’s life for stealing an object of value seems a bit drastic. However a phaser would relieve the victim of the responsibility of making such a life and death decision. This would also decrease any anxiety over hitting innocent bystanders. “Sorry lady, I didn’t mean to stun you I was aiming for the crook, took me six or seven shots to hit the bastard. Man these things should come with sights!”
On the other side of the coin once criminals got a hold of phasers the amount of bank robberies would skyrocket. At the very least phaser battles would increase. Many banks and other high risk establishments may resort to simply installing phasers on cameras and let the phasing happen from some remote at some security office.
I can’t help but think that the introduction of phasers would make hand guns obsolete. A shootout with the police just wouldn’t be the same if the police knew that the perpetrator would simply drop like a stone when hit, talk about stopping power. Suicide by cop would be eliminated. Hostage taking would be useless. Just stun them all, let the court sort it out.
I also believe that there would be some major issues that would have to be dealt with.
For one, if teenagers came to possess phasers it could possibly change the face of America. Random phasing at the mall would inevitably cause head injuries as innocent bystanders get zapped during a game of tag. Bicycle helmets would become fashionable. Also phasing parties would replace binge drinking at most college campuses. Prank phasing would also become epidemic as teenagers would stun people and video them for You-Tube.
Animal rights groups would have to think up new laws as hunters started to use the newest in Phaser sights that would allow them to bring down an elk at 300 yards without a shot, well one shot anyway. Duck hunting would be more fun for the retrievers and much less noisy. Just zap the ducks and let Fido fetch them out of the water. Also, no more picking shot out of dinner.
Child welfare agencies would also have to deal with an epidemic of “bed time phasering”. On the other hand it could also be used as a tool for unruly and disruptive children in class. Teachers would finally have a tool to replace the paddle. No more being called to the office, just sleep it off in class at your desk.
This also could make air travel much easier and more economical. Imagine how cheap an airline ticket would be if you could ship people as cargo? How cool would trans-Atlantic flight be if you could sleep through all of it including TSA, baggage, boarding, and the food? One minute you’re laying down in the passenger lounge, the next minute you’re waking up in France. What a deal. Though I hate to think of what the TSA would do while you’re out.
What else would change if Phasers were present in our current culture?