Bad ideas, particularly those dreamed up by progressives, never die. They merely lurk in the shadows, waiting for honest, law-abiding American’s attention to momentarily wander. Such is the case with so-called “smart” guns. Like microstamping, smart guns are a brilliant solution to a nonexistent problem, a solution posed, from time to time, by progressives who must eternally seek to disarm free men, for without such disarmament, they can never achieve their utopian plans. Hillary Clinton named the very people that must be disarmed, the “irredeemable deplorables,” who had the temerity to take offense and deny her the office rightfully hers, because she was female, and most of all, because she was Hillary Clinton and it was her turn.
Microstamping and smart gun schemes share certain limitations: they can have no effect on crime, because criminals, by nature and definition, disobey the law and commonly obtain their handgun outside lawful channels. They are utterly incapable of improving safety, a red herring, as the incidence of gun accidents has been dramatically declining over the last century. Their true, fundamental purpose is to make guns so expensive and over-regulated as to constitute unconstitutional, de facto gun bans. As with every other measure dreamed up by anti-liberty cracktivists, they are a means to side step the Constitution when the Constitution cannot be abolished, wiped away by executive orders or regulations, or merely ignored.
Bob Owens, my friend and editor at Bearing Arms, where I contribute, explains the most recent attempt to impose smart guns:
Back in June, the National Institute of Justice – the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice – drafted a list of guidelines for smart gun manufacturers.
Smart guns, also called ‘personalized’ or ‘authorized-user recognition’ guns, include safety features – often in the form of sensor technology – that only allow authorized users to fire it.
This past week, an official document was released by the DOJ: ‘Baseline Specifications for Law Enforcement Service Pistols with Security Technology.’
These guidelines came out a series of executive actions put forth by the Obama Administration to ‘reduce gun violence and make our commented safer.’ They hoped to achieve four main goals including ‘[shaping] the future of gun safety technology.’
On January 4th, Obama issued a memorandum ordering the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to:
‘…Conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns….review the availability of the technology…and explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.
By all means, take the link and read the entire article. As usual, Bob succinctly exposes the motivations and intentions of those desperate to steal fundamental liberties. The National Institute of Justice article to which Bob refers is available here.
One of the reliable organs of progressive propaganda always seeking a chance to browbeat the deplorables is The New York Times, and taking Mr. Obama’s lead, they have editorialized, yet again–on 11-26-16–for smart guns:
How many lives might be saved if guns were equipped with fingerprint scanners, radio frequency chips or other evolving technology that blocks anyone but the owner from using them?
The National Rifle Association gun lobby was quick to sneer that the guidelines, issued on Nov. 16, were a desperate effort by Mr. Obama to claim “a ‘win’ during his waning days in office.” Actually, the guidelines reignite the promise of smart guns — a promise cut short 16 years ago when the N.R.A. led a boycott of Smith & Wesson after the gun manufacturer pledged in a White House agreement to explore smart-gun technology.
The technology is available. In fact, Jonathan Mossberg, scion of the nation’s oldest family-owned gunmaker, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, patented a shotgun in 2000 that successfully blocked firing by anyone not wearing the shooter’s radio-frequency identity ring. The gun industry lacks not the high-tech know-how, but the fortitude to advance the safety of its weapons in the face of gun-lobby politics and threats. The new voluntary guidelines aim to create industry standards for reliable battery power in a smart gun, for ensuring unhindered speed in drawing the weapon and for the distance allowed between the gun and its owner’s ID device.
‘If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can’t pull a trigger on a gun,’ President Obama declared in ordering Justice and Homeland Security officials to outline a strategy for ‘the real-world deployment of smart-gun technology.’ This includes testing of new smart firearms at the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.
Rational Americans know “the children” are the last refuge of all political scoundrels. Whenever “the children” are invoked one must first–and always–check their wallet, and can be certain the safety of children is as far from the minds of such would be despots as is upholding and defending the Constitution. Take the link and read the entire brief editorial. It strikes all the usual progressive narrative points: progressives are intellectually and morally pure and superior, fighting only to combat crime and to save the lives of innocent children, and fighting against the evil and all-powerful NRA, which obviously wants high crime rates and dead children. And as with virtually anything emanating from Barack Obama’s mouth, the suggestion that so-called “child-proof” medicine containers have improved safety is a lie. That governmental mandate has actually made things less safe, because people put their trust in government mandates that don’t work.
I have frequently written about the smart gun scam, most recently addressing the Armatix iP1, a .22LR caliber smart gun/watch combination retailing for a mere $1400/$400 respectively. Using radio technology, it has failed to catch on for all the reasons smart guns are not only unreliable, but more dangerous to their user than to criminals.
Just to be thorough, and for the benefit of newer readers, let’s review the salient issues:
There is nothing new about smart gun technology. Research has been fitfully underway since the 1970s. The police comprise the largest potential market for this technology, however, despite a variety of technologies and prototypes, none have ever been adopted by a single law enforcement agency. Smart guns don’t exist in any commercially viable form, despite being researched by firearm giants like Colt.
Early attempts focused on compatible magnets, one in the forward part of the grip of a handgun and one embedded in a ring worn by the shooter. This had the advantage of relative simplicity. Unfortunately, the rings were quite large, and the largest part had to be worn facing inward toward the palm, which many find clumsy and uncomfortable. Both magnets had to precisely align–the magnet embedded in the frame had to be exposed, limiting grip choices–and if the ring shifted on the finger, it wouldn’t work. Wearing gloves obviously interfered. Weak-hand shooting was impossible absent a large ring on both hands. Criminals could defeat the system simply by stealing a gun and ring, or by carrying a magnet.
The next and current technology is nothing more complex than radio transmitter/receivers. Miniaturized systems are feasible in terms of size and space, at least for full-sized police duty pistols like a Glock 17. A radio receiver is embedded in a handgun with a transmitter coded to that receiver carried somewhere on the body of the shooter. Both receiver and transmitter must be battery-powered. The gun receiver and watch transmitter are the basis of the Armatix system.
The problems with this technology are many and obvious. Radio transmitters use enormous amounts of battery power. Batteries small enough to be carried in a firearm have limited capacity, and drain quickly, because they must be constantly on. When a battery fails–all batteries fail in sufficiently cold weather–the gun won’t fire. There can be no time lag between need and response, rendering passcode-entering systems like the Armatix foolish, and any power-saving “sleep” mode to lengthen battery life impractical.
Radio frequency interference problems, particularly since the widespread use of cell phones, are significant. And, as with magnetic technologies, criminals can use the weapons simply by stealing the gun and transmitter–which criminals tend to do, being criminals–or by scanning for and spoofing the correct frequencies, enabling, or jamming, signals. Such technology is cheap and readily available.
The more advanced the technology and the smaller the market, the greater the price, adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of already costly weapons.
For the police–and everyone else, there is an ultimately insurmountable problem: there are many circumstances in which a officer would need to fire a fellow officer’s gun. So too may a wife need to use her husband’s gun or children need to use a parent’s gun. In such cases, smart guns are very stupid–and deadly–indeed, but to their owners, not criminals.
Another, even less reliable and impractical technology is that which somehow “reads” biometric markers of its owner. Some developers claim to have genius level systems that somehow account for such subtle variables as the way in which a shooter grips their handgun. Obviously, this technology is even more expensive, and less viable, than magnet or radio tech.
Smart gun advocates were giddy with joy, and engaged in much virtue signaling, when the James Bond adventure, Skyfall, launched in 2012. Bond was given a Walther PPK updated with smart gun tech, which somehow–the means were never explained–“read” his biometrics through the gun’s grip. If James Bond was willing to trust his life to a smart gun, why couldn’t everyone else?
Putting aside that James Bond is fictional, as is the physical universe in which he exists, the problems were obvious. Bond’s life was saved in an obligatory early scene where a bad guy grabbed Bond’s gun, which didn’t work, and was quickly eaten by a giant Komodo Dragon-like lizard. There was also a scene in which Bond was stalking an assassin while wearing gloves, which presumably would have set him up to be lizard lunch. And in a later scene, Bond grabbed a bad guy’s gun and shot a brace of cutthroats about to kill him. Had that been a smart gun–and it actually worked–James Bond would have been as dead as the Bond franchise.
Smart gun technologies exist, as in Skyfall, primarily in the minds of screenwriters.
Another serious problem is all smart gun systems to date have failed to display the necessary ruggedness. The mere act of firing the gun has been sufficient to damage some, and others have failed as a result of the conditions — heat, cold, sweat, water, mud, impact shock and more — under which police firearms, and the firearms owned by citizens, must operate.
The ultimate problem is firearms, particularly those used for self-defense, must work with 100% reliability. If a weapon can’t be relied upon to fire when the trigger is pulled, it is more dangerous to its user than to the attacker. Smart guns, apart from being fundamentally a means of under the radar disarmament, are attempts to remove the human element from human affairs, to make human error impossible.
“If mandating smart guns would save even one life, we must do it!” some cry. Fortunately, more rational minds have, to date, prevailed. If that were the public safety standard, what technology would still be available? Certainly not cars, ladders, swimming pools, bicycles, electricity, knives, motorcycles, power tools–the list is endless, and all of these devices take far more lives than gun accidents each and every year.
As with electric vehicles, absent enormous leaps in technological capability and reliability, leaps which may not be possible in our physical universe, smart guns remain dumb, a means of virtue signaling and seizing fundamental, unalienable rights.
That, rather than the all-powerful and evil NRA, and the stupidity and bad will of irredeemable deplorables, is why no one is anxious to pay many times the price of an entirely safe and reliable handgun in favor of an essentially nonexistent smart gun. That is why The New York Times Editorial Board must remain, sadly, unsatisfied.