When you get right down to it, current firearms technology–even the alleged cutting-edge, state-of-the-art stuff–is still so 19th-Century. Primer, case, powder, bullet, then an old-fashioned bang. Come on, it’s 2012. Where are the laser blasters we’ve been promised for so long? As it turns out, they’re closer than we think…

From this story on

Never mind looming defense cuts or residual technical challenges. The Navy’s chief futurist is pushing up the anticipated date for when sailors can expect to use laser weapons on the decks of their ships, and raising expectations for robotic submarines. “On directed energy” — the term for the Navy’s laser cannons, “I’d say two years,” Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, told Danger Room in a Monday interview.

The previous estimate, which came from Klunder’s laser technicians earlier this year, was that it will take four years at the earliest for a laser gun to come aboard. “We’re well past physics,” Klunder said, echoing a mantra for the Office of Naval Research’s laser specialists. Now, the questions surrounding a weapon once thought to be purely science fiction sound almost pedestrian. “We’re just going through the integration efforts,” Klunder continued. “Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.”

According to the story, on-ship testing is already underway. Which means, of course, that the first civilian sporting and self-defense models should be on dealer shelves not long after, right? Not only would this revolutionize sporting arms and relegate propellant-based firearms to the dustbin of history, it will finally, finally allow all of us who, since 1977, have dreamed of being Han Solo, the chance to have our own blaster. Good times…