With all of the advances in technology that seem to permeate the everyday lives of the citizens of the Sol System it is often asked, why are there not more advanced weapons in use? The answers are myriad and varied depending upon whom you are speaking to, however there are a few that are commonly cited, and ring true. To begin with, are there more advanced personal weapons available? Absolutely. Examples of which follow this article for those that are curious for more information but include briefly, coherent light energy weapons or lasers, charged particle weapons, or particle beams, ionizing gas discharge or plasma weapons, and many more.
While these sorts of weapons are certainly possible and, today, extremely portable and effective, they do have a few drawbacks, primary of which is obviously cost. These weapons are astronomically expensive to produce and so are available only to the wealthiest of organizations and people. Next on the list of why they are not more common is their potential for damage in the extreme. These weapons are usually so effective that they can not be used within the tight confines of space craft and space stations where the slightest misstep can cause an explosive out-gassing in a habitable area which is, needless to say, a circumstance that most people would want to avoid. Lastly, also because of their destructive potential, most energy weapons have been put on restricted materials lists and are thusly only available to military organizations in the Sol System.
So, if all of the energy weapons are too expensive, too dangerous, and too controlled by the government to be used, what then is a person to use to defend themselves with? Fear not, simple ballistics technology has advanced over the years and is still in widespread use in one form or another today. Most of these weapons have evolved, but are still very similar and comparable to those of yester-year. Rather than using crude brass casings that are ejected out the side of the weapon as their propellant is consumed, most weapons now operate on a caseless, shaped charge design where the bullet is impregnated within a shaped explosive charge that is electronically ignited within the breech of the weapon and completely consumed through combustion as the projectile is pushed out the barrel by the process. This allows the weapons to be smaller, lighter, easier to maintain, cheaper to produce and have significantly fewer moving parts (in some cases no moving parts). As a result, projectile weapons have become cheap, easy to use and maintain, and will not kill hundreds (or thousands) of bystanders if discharged inside a vessel, as most bullets are not powerful enough to penetrate starship hull materials.
Please bear in mind that some projectile weapons are still controlled items, and thusly only available to the military and similar organizations, but there are a great many that are widely available to the general public with a minimum of hassle.
Not to be outdone however, technology has also lent itself to the improvement of the age-old classics. Clubs, knives, and swords are still in use today, and in fact they seem to be making a comeback in some circles, particularly pilots and the ultra-wealthy who fancy themselves fencers and swashbucklers like back in the days of yore, around the 23rd century.
Some modern twists to these old stand-bys include advanced metallurgy that make the blades/surfaces of the weapons extremely light, ultra durable, and able to hold a wicked, surgical edge even through the most rigorous of abuse. Add to this the ability to create high frequency reciprocating blades that will allow any such weapon to slice through the toughest of alloys, and your sword or knife becomes a weapon capable of severing a limb in a flash. Other plays on this old standard include monomolecular blades, a single molecule-wide string suspended within a magnetic field, and the outrageously expensive charged particle or plasma swords where volumes of sun-hot plasma gas are contained within a tightly controlled magnetic field. These ancient weapons with modern twists are not going anywhere soon.