By Dialogo October 20, 2011 The U.S. Army has signed a contract for the purchase of small, portable unmanned planes capable of successfully destroying a target by launching themselves against it and activating built-in explosive charges, announced the firm that built the weapon. In late June, the U.S. Army reached an agreement for $4.9 million with AeroVironment to acquire these aircrafts, dubbed “Switchblades,” as quickly as possible, the manufacturer said. The aerial device will weigh less than two kilos (approximately 4.4lbs) and can be transported in soldiers’ backpacks. To launch it, the device is expelled from a tube and opens its wings. The unmanned plane hovers in the air with the help of a small electric motor that transmits video images captured by its small built-in camera, enabling a precise view of the target, the firm explained in a statement. Upon obtaining images of the objective thanks to live transmissions from the plane, the operator can confirm whether the target is the one intended, thereby avoiding collateral victims, the manufacturers and the Army affirmed. The device then takes aim at the target and crashes into it, thereby detonating the explosive charge it contains. Once launched, the missiles fired by Predator and Reaper planes cannot be diverted from their objective, and the explosion cannot be cancelled. The Switchblade can not only be used as a remote-controlled weapon, but as a reconnaissance device also.
They offer prayers and platitudes that are quickly forgotten, instead of working to enact policies to help defend a nation that is constantly under attack from its not-so-well-regulated militia.Americans don’t need another debate on “gun control.”What’s needed is a dispassionate discussion about specific policies that can save lives.For instance, the Sutherland Springs shooter was reportedly convicted of domestic violence and received a one-year sentence.If true, this should have disqualified him from passing a background check, but it didn’t.Discovering what went wrong — and fixing it — can help stop future murderers.After the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a law aimed at getting mental health records into the background system. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:There are many unanswered questions about the man who on Sunday shot and killed at least 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.In the days ahead, more facts will emerge. But the most common question — could anything have been done to stop him? — will also be the most difficult to answer, the most hotly debated, and the most irrelevant for public policy.If the goal is to stop future shooting sprees — and it should be — the right question to ask is simple: What steps can be taken to reduce their likelihood?Nothing can change what happened, and no law can stop every murderous madman.But by examining data and evidence, there are ways to increase the chances that future plots can be foiled, and to mitigate the harm that the successful ones inflict.That’s why Congress banned fully automatic rifles, for instance, and created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.Both have saved countless lives.The trouble is, whenever such a mass shooting occurs, elected officials who fear the gun lobby pretend that nothing more can be done. But gaps still exist. Sunday’s shooting spree again highlights how a functioning background check system is as much a management issue as a policy one.Sunday’s massacre should also prompt elected officials to contemplate two facts.One, mass shootings are often committed by domestic abusers.And two, in states where background checks are required on all handgun sales, as opposed to states where they are required only at registered gun dealers, 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.Americans do not elect representatives to pray for them, nor to kneel at the gun lobby’s altar.But until voters demand a more active and urgent response from Washington and state capitols, funeral bells from mass killings will continue to ring across the land.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census