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Using Technology To Make Guns Safer

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the cars-should-also-have-brakes-and-turn-signals dept.

United States 1013

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Farhad Manjoo writes that there are a number of technologies that gunmakers could add to their products that might prevent hundreds or thousands of deaths per year. One area of active research is known as the 'smart gun' — a trigger-identification system that prevents a gun from being fired by anyone other than its authorized user. Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology created a working prototype of a gun that determines whether or not to fire based on a user's 'grip pattern.' Gunmakers have been slow to add other safety technologies as well, including indicators that show whether a gun is loaded, and 'magazine safeties' that prevent weapons from being fired when their ammunition magazine is removed (PDF). That could save 400 lives a year. So why aren't gunmakers making safer guns? Because guns are exempt from most of the consumer safety laws that have improved the rest of American life. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, charged with looking over thousands of different kinds of products, is explicitly prohibited from regulating firearms. In 2005, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes gun makers against lawsuits resulting from 'misuse' of the products. If they can't be sued and can't be regulated, gunmakers have no incentive to make smarter guns." Note that gun safety features (not universally loved) like loaded-chamber indicators, grip safeties, and magazine disconnects are constantly evolving and have been available in some form and in various combinations for many decades, so gun makers seem to have some incentive to produce and improve them, and that the PLCAA does not prevent consumer safety lawsuits, but does shield gun makers from suits based on criminal conduct by gun buyers (though imperfectly).

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Lol. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347213)

a trigger-identification system that prevents a gun from being fired by anyone other than its authorized user

Looks like someone played MGS4 and liked the idea.

Re:Lol. (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#42347321)

Uhh, I think you mean someone watched License to Kill and liked the idea. No doubt the idea has been in fiction since long before 1989, but that's the oldest reference I know of (I was six at the time).

Re:Lol. (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 2 years ago | (#42347329)

Or you know... Judge Dredd

Safe guns (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347219)

Are kind of missing the point. If you actually need to use a gun, you don't want a ton of hardware that will prevent it from firing when you pull the trigger.

Ask the Army if they really want their guns locked to only work when they pull the trigger, so when they pick up a fallen soldier's gun in the middle of a battle after running out of ammo it won't fire.

Missing the point. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347239)

These guns aren't for the army, their for the typical idiot consumer.
I remember this old story on the news that a 3 year old picked up a gun, not knowing what it was, and shot his(?) mother when she tried to take it back.
This would prevent stories like that.

Re:Missing the point. (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#42347395)

These guns aren't for the army, their for the typical idiot consumer.
I remember this old story on the news that a 3 year old picked up a gun, not knowing what it was, and shot his(?) mother when she tried to take it back.
This would prevent stories like that.

Not allowing people who let others get at guns raise children would also prevent stories like that.

In some other countries, the firing mechanism must be stored seperately from the gun at all times, except when the weapon is being used.
And definitely not loaded.

And also, the barrier to losing custody of your children is way lower. The way A.Z. was brought up would have been impossible in places with strong child protection laws.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347615)

In some other countries, the firing mechanism must be stored seperately from the gun at all times

Bullshit, where?

Re:Missing the point. (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42347695)

In some other countries, the firing mechanism must be stored seperately from the gun at all times, except when the weapon is being used.
And definitely not loaded.

Requiring that it be locked away securely accomplishes the same goal (keeping it out of the hands of children) without making it useless for self-defense. I am not interested in living in a country which makes it illegal to defend yourself.

Re:Missing the point. (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#42347425)

I remember this old story on the news that a 3 year old picked up a gun, not knowing what it was, and shot his(?) mother when she tried to take it back. This would prevent stories like that.

So would locking guns in a gun cabinet when not in use, as you're obligated to do.

I know NOTHING about guns, being a Brit, but just from watching FPSRussia on YouTube I can tell you that you don't point a loaded gun at people EVER, you keep the safety catch on at all times except just before you fire, and after firing you check the chamber (receiver?) for a round before you do anything else, just in case you miscounted how many shots you fired. I'm sure there are plenty of other guidelines that morons don't follow, but these are obvious from watching a redneck shoot cans in his back yard.

Unless you have a seizure, or someone else does something moronic (running in front of you, trying to wrestle the gun from you) I can't see any other reason for accidental deaths / injuries involving guns than user error. Please, do give me other examples if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

Re:Missing the point. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347547)

I know NOTHING about guns, being a Brit

Congratulations, you know more about guns than most of the anti-gun crowd, as well as a disappointing number of gun owners. What you go on to describe is basically the first 3 pages of the NRA basic pistol safety manual - always treat a gun like it's loaded, always point it in a safe direction, and always keep it unloaded until you're actually using it. You're absolutely right - "accidental" shootings are virtually always negligent.

Re:Missing the point. (2, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42347655)

"you don't point a gun at people EVER"

Fixed that for you. Always assume a gun is loaded - even if you have absolute, undeniable proof that it isn't. It's the kind of crap they teach before kindergarten in rural areas.

Re:Missing the point. (3, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#42347679)

So would locking guns in a gun cabinet when not in use, as you're obligated to do.

But that relies on owner action.

These technologies are designed to remove owner action from the safety equation. It doesn't matter if the owner is responsible or not, since the technology doesn't care.

Any system that relies on personal-responsibility is unsafe, since individuals aren't reliable.

Any well designed system doesn't allow for individual actions to break the system.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 2 years ago | (#42347687)

>don't point a loaded gun at people EVER

Don't point any gun at people unless you want to shoot them. It is said that "unloaded" guns are what cause shooting accidents.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347435)

Not leaving a gun where a 3 year old can get to it would prevent stories like that, too.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347497)

These guns aren't for the army, their for the typical idiot consumer.

Question is: Is the safety of an idiot worth being protected by the possession of a gun, which he is very likely to misuse?

GB Shaw said: "The 100% American is 99% an idiot "

So I guess it must be unlawful for Americans to possess guns.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42347563)

And who let the 3 year old get near a loaded gun? No gun technology will prevent people that stupid from injuring themselves in some way. They're the ones you see with their Saturn Ion in the ditch on the highway when it snows. They're the ones you see on youtube doing any variety of stupid things like jumping off their roof. They're the ones you see smoking cigarettes, lol. There's no cure for stupid and toddler-proofing the entire United States for these people won't really solve anything.

Re:Missing the point. (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42347717)

I remember this old story on the news that a 3 year old picked up a gun, not knowing what it was, and shot his(?) mother when she tried to take it back.

If she left a loaded gun where a three year old could pick it up, and died as a result, then she should have been nominated for a Darwin Award [darwinawards.com] .

This would prevent stories like that.

Why would we want to prevent the removal of fatally stupid people from the human gene pool? Too bad she had already procreated at least once.

Re:Safe guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347365)

Are kind of missing the point. If you actually need to use a gun, you don't want a ton of hardware that will prevent it from firing when you pull the trigger.

But I might want a ton of hardware that will prevent it from firing when someone else pulls the trigger. There is some possibility of getting killed because your safety locks malfunctioned. But this must be balanced against the substantial risk of you (or someone in close to you) being killed by your own weapon.

Reliability, reliability, reliability. Left hand? (4, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 years ago | (#42347519)

The article and especially the summary is completely wrong about their central claim "gunmakers have no incentive...". Of course that's typical - anti-gunners would never shoot, never handle a firearm, so they normally have no idea what they are talking about. The supreme requirement in a firearm is RELIABILITY. If you are in a situation where you actually have to fire your sidearm, you die if it doesn't work right that time. A defensive weapon has to work every single time. That's why the 1911 design is still the second most popular model over a hundred years later - because it's been proven reliable. That's why you keep firearms simple - complex things break. That's also why you definitely don't add a bunch of complexity designed to make the gun NOT WORK if something isn't perfect - it has to fire, or an innocent person dies. It's only people who don't know about firearms, or about dealing with bad guys in general, who think something like "fingerprinting" one persons particular grip sounds like a good idea. It does sound good, until you think about the fact that the user is UNDER ATTACK. They may very well have to fire with their other hand, after the BG smashes their right arms with a baseball bat, car, stabs them with a knife .... These "smart guns" look cool in movies, but anyone with any tactical experience or training knows they are only movie props. In real life, these ideas would get good guys killed every day. If you've never even been trained in USING a firearm, please don't pontificate about how they be be designed.

Re:Safe guns (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42347523)

as someone who has spent 8 years in the army, the military is fanatical about firearms safety

ammo is always kept separate from weapons. miles away in locked and guarded bunkers
weapons are always locked in the arms room and inventoried any time the room is opened. by serial number
heavy weapons like 50 caliber machine guns have their firing pins kept separate from the rest of the weapon

at the firing range you only get ammo when its time to fire
all weapons, even unloaded ones are considered loaded past a certain point close to the firing line
all weapons always face down range. you never point a weapon at a person

NO PERSONAL WEAPONS IN GOVERNMENT OWNED HOUSING

Lousy ideas (-1, Troll)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#42347233)

Most of those range from "nice" to "annoying" to "completely missing the point of firearms."

Better to limit all non-professional firearms to 3 rounds (shotgun, iirc, already are). I've never encountered a situation, and am at a loss for an actual, private-citizen, real-world situation, where more than 3 rounds would be necessary except in the case of an incompetent shooter (i.e. poor aim).

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347271)

And if you are robbed by more than one person? Getting shot once isn't enough to stop someone unless you hit them in the head (a small, moving target) or the heart (another small target). Even then it could take minutes to incapacitate them from blood loss. More holes > less holes.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

lxs (131946) | about 2 years ago | (#42347367)

Then you carry two guns.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347709)

Right, because walking around with 5 guns is not only safer and more convenient, but less threatening than simply having a single gun with 15 bullets.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#42347351)

Show me how exactly can you aim well after getting woken up by a break-in. Sometimes, the burglars will freeze in place, standing and shouting obscenities at you so you can aim at _one_. Sometimes. Usually, it's quick action, where even a trained soldier would likely miss a lot. Oh, and you have multiple opponents.

Also, against rational criminals one bullet would be enough: the risk of being the one who gets shot is enough of a deterrent, so they'll leave you alone. The problem is, most criminals are anything but rational. Alcohol and/or drugs don't help them think straight.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 2 years ago | (#42347451)

Show me how exactly can you aim well after getting woken up by a break-in. Sometimes, the burglars will freeze in place, standing and shouting obscenities at you so you can aim at _one_. Sometimes. Usually, it's quick action, where even a trained soldier would likely miss a lot. Oh, and you have multiple opponents.

Also, against rational criminals one bullet would be enough: the risk of being the one who gets shot is enough of a deterrent, so they'll leave you alone. The problem is, most criminals are anything but rational. Alcohol and/or drugs don't help them think straight.

That is why you get a pump shotgun for home protection. The sound of the cocking of a pump action (geez, that looks bad) will chase most folks away. And as long as you get a shotgun with a large spread (larger diameter or shorter barrel), you'll not have to aim so well.

Re:Lousy ideas (3, Informative)

LehiNephi (695428) | about 2 years ago | (#42347643)

It's fairly well understood that the sound of racking (that's the proper term, I believe) a shotgun actually will not scare away an intruder. I wish it did--I'd much rather have the bad guy run away than have to shoot him.
Secondly, if you want a larger spread, you don't get a larger barrel--it's 12gauge (or 40, or whatever) all the way down. You can get barrels with different chokes, which constrict the opening at the end of the barrel to various degrees.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#42347579)

Show me how exactly can you aim well after getting woken up by a break-in.

The best defense against home break-ins is to move away from high-crime areas.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42347605)

Show me how exactly can you aim well after getting woken up by a break-in.

It's called point shooting and it's something you can't train for at many ranges (e.g. pretty much any indoor range) because their rules prohibit shooting across lanes and rapid fire. Most will permit double-tap, but that's about it. But of course, it's best done with a semi-automatic pistol... something comfortable and with a very light trigger, like a 1911 or a BHP.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347381)

Really? You can't think of *one* real-world situation that requires more than 3 rounds? Here's a hint: it's the most popular activity associated with guns. It's not hunting, and it's not shooting bad guys, and it typically uses dozens - and many times hundreds - of rounds each time this activity is undertaken.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347383)

I've never encountered a situation

Then none must exist.

except in the case of an incompetent shooter

And you've never encountered any of those, obviously. Otherwise you've just contradicted your own argument.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347393)

2 attackers, "double tap" is the standard training for putting down a threat, you're short a round.

I suspect you've never had any firearm training, and your statement that "I've never encountered a situation..." is just obfuscating the fact that you don't even have or use firearms.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#42347405)

except in the case of an incompetent shooter (i.e. poor aim).

Right, because when someone walks into your store and you grab your gun to defend yourself, you are going to be perfectly calm and stable and hit the robber with all 3 of your rounds.

This is the same nonsense I hear from people who say they carry and they'll shoot anyone that tries to rob them. As if the robber is going to wait for them to pull out their gun instead of telling them to empty their pockets and getting a second gun.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347429)

3 rounds...why 3 rounds? when I worked as a paramedic I treated a coke head who'd been shot 7 times and was still raging...what if a private citizen had been attacked by him? 3 rounds would've just pissed him off...

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42347433)

I am pretty sure that most people have poor aim.

And theoretically private citizens are allowed guns partly to protect them from the government and invasion. And if you actually get in a firefight with the government or an invading army you would need more than three rounds.

Not to mansion that that would completely ruin the fun of owning a fully automatic weapon.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

LehiNephi (695428) | about 2 years ago | (#42347689)

Speaking of which, automatic firearms are already banned, unless you go through a rigorous screening process. Nearly all handguns today, and many rifles, are semi-automatic (one trigger pull per shot). It's "semi" because although the gun automatically loads the next round, it will not automatically fire that next round.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347439)

We should apply your arbitrary ammo limit based because you personally have never actually needed more than 3 bullets..

I count at least 6 shots here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWoLGC-n4i4

That doesn't touch on the fact that even police accuracy is only in the 30% range, and they.. allegedly.. have standards.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347499)

I agree on that most of these "smart gun concepts" really aren't reliable enough for any kind of firearm usage. System should be so reliable that user wouldn't mind having it were he/she police offer or hunter wearing gloves. 3 round limit would automatically ban most of the competition sports with pistol and many rifle ones too. Also if you agree that self defense is appropriate reason to own a firearm then more rounds is better. 3 round limited pistol would have some deterrent effect but you really wouldn't want use one in self defense.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 2 years ago | (#42347569)

And because you've never encountered it, that means it could never happen, right?

Anecdote != data.

Oh, and there are plenty of shotguns that carry more than 3 rounds, which can be bought at many sporting goods stores. The 3 round limit is usually a hunting regulation.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347589)

Yeah I know what you mean. Gang bangers never travel in groups larger than 2 or 3.

Re:Lousy ideas (2)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42347601)

Better to limit all non-professional firearms to 3 rounds (shotgun, iirc, already are).

That's only for waterfowl hunting. Shotguns with higher capacities are perfectly legal and easy to obtain. In fact, many come with higher-capacity tubes and an insert that prevents it being fully loaded. It is then perfectly legal to remove the insert, but illegal to go duck/goose hunting with it removed.

Re:Lousy ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347675)

Real world situations just don't unfold like you seem to think they do, and guns (especially handguns) are not the lethal one-shot killers you seem to believe they are:

"Police say that after suffering multiple hits from Assam's gun, Murray fatally shot himself"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Colorado_YWAM_and_New_Life_shootings

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

kernelpanicked (882802) | about 2 years ago | (#42347697)

Where's you get the 3 rounds idea? Every 12g I've ever fired held 7 shells. During certain hunting seasons they are limited to 3 or 4, in which case we cut off a pencil and use it as plug.

Re:Lousy ideas (1)

Enigmafan (263737) | about 2 years ago | (#42347703)

I've never encountered a situation, and am at a loss for an actual, private-citizen, real-world situation, where more than 3 rounds would be necessary except in the case of an incompetent shooter (i.e. poor aim).

Perhaps law-enforcement officers can be in situations where more then 3 rounds are needed?

Insert obligatory "anti-gun" rant here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347237)

Insert obligatory "anti-gun" rant here. Insert meaningless blabber here.

Insert comments about "safety" and "children"

Insert head in sand.

Now that that's out of the way...hopefully this will actually be a meaningful discussion, and not just another gun bashing.

Re:Insert obligatory "anti-gun" rant here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347631)

Insert obligatory "pro-gun" rant here. Insert meaningless blabber here.

Insert comments about "freedom" and "if more people had guns things like this would never happen"

Insert head in sand.

Now that that's out of the way...hopefully this will actually be a meaningful discussion, and not just another gun circlejerk.

Bias (5, Insightful)

sarysa (1089739) | about 2 years ago | (#42347255)

The author mostly had me with the first half of the article, then went overboard praising the Product Safety Commission and even worse, safety-related lawsuits. I'm glad guns are exempt -- many if not most product safety lawsuits are shining examples of why we need tort reform.

Re:Bias (0)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#42347677)

I'm glad guns are exempt -- many if not most product safety lawsuits are shining examples of why we need tort reform.

Really? What happened to those bedrock conservative principles of accountability and responsibility? Concern over free riders, and externalities? We see all of that here. If gun makers and owners bore the cost of the resulting mayhem, market forces could be unleashed to work their magic and arbitrary government mandates like loaded round indicators would be unnecessary because vested interests would have a financial incentive to solve the problem. Right?

PLCAA (5, Insightful)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42347269)

is one of those obvious legalities that you would think you shouldnt have to have.

It's like the family that sued Cessna after their father, with insufficient training, crashed and died. (I guess its not his fault he didnt know how to fly)
Or the people who sue the bar for the drunk who rams their car. (i guess its not his fault he was too drunk to drive)
Or the guy who cut off his finger on a table saw, and sued Sears for not including the tech that automagically stops the saw. (I guess its not his fault he put hs finger on a frigging saw blade)

The MFR simply makes the product.
The owner still carries full weight and responsibility for proper use and misuse.
Shouldnt have to have a law to state that.

Re:PLCAA (2)

firex726 (1188453) | about 2 years ago | (#42347423)

Could not agree more...

I use various kinds of carpentry tools and yes they can be very dangerous if you don't use caution. Pisses me off seeing people being cavalier about safety when working with something dangerous like a saw, or electricity.

Or worse when they blame the tool because they decided to disregard the various safety features and put their thumb in the path of the blade.

Re:PLCAA (0)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 2 years ago | (#42347465)

The MFR simply makes the product.
The owner still carries full weight and responsibility for proper use and misuse.
Shouldnt have to have a law to state that.

With respect to guns, the proper, intended use of the product is to put holes into people.

Why should they be shielded from liability any more than tobacco companies?

Re:PLCAA (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about 2 years ago | (#42347661)

The MFR simply makes the product. The owner still carries full weight and responsibility for proper use and misuse. Shouldnt have to have a law to state that.

With respect to guns, the proper, intended use of the product is to put holes into stuff.

Why should they be shielded from liability any more than tobacco companies?

FTFY.

Re:PLCAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347707)

Because some people need to have holes in them and the manufacturer is just facilitating what is ultimately a decision by the end user.
If you're a drug addled meth head who breaks into my house threatening my family, you might need a few holes in you.
If you're not on anything at all, but you break into my house and are a threat to me or my family, you might need a few holes in you.
If you attempt to violate my constitutional rights, you might need a few holes in you.
If you point a gun at me you might need a few holes in you.

Now that's not a comprehensive list, but it should serve to promote understanding of why the manufacture should not be held responsible.

Even in the case of tobacco no one is forcing anyone else to smoke. How about some personal responsibility hmmm??

Doesn't James Bond have this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347275)

"...a trigger-identification system that prevents a gun from being fired by anyone other than its authorized user..."

Yeah, this was in Skyfall. Didn't realize it was actually practical. Or is it?

Few of these systems would be acceptable to buyers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347279)

The key to having an improvement in design implemented is that it must be acceptable to the buyer. It can't reduce the utility of the gun. The fact that a gun doesn't have a network of potentially unreliable sensors in it that identify a user by his grip means that gun can't be used with the other hand, or may fail to identify the user if he grips differently when under stress. One that recognizes fingerprints won't work if he's wearing a glove, using the other hand or has foreign material on his finger. These would be unacceptable to buyers. They're not going anywhere. If they have electronics of any kind, they need batteries. Why would you want to add a battery to a gun? The only one mentioned that makes sense to me is the ammo-clip lockout. That's simple to implement and would prevent accidental firing if a person forgets to eject the bullet in the chamber.

Hi-Point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347285)

My Hi-Point C9 will not fire if the magazine is out of the pistol, even if a round is chambered. Looks like its already being done.

Re:Hi-Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347385)

High point makes the most cheep and generic guns one can buy, so that is actually saying something.

Gun Safes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347299)

We're basically talking about adding technology to made guns NOT WORK, which means you are just adding another potential layer of failure to prevent the weapon from working. You want to know what solves most of those problems?, gun safes, which won't add a single potential failure layer to the overall picture.

Note: magazine safeties prevent you from clearing the firearm, which means you can't guarantee it's not loaded.

The Weapon Shops of Isher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347303)

Reminds me of A.E. Van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher [wikipedia.org] : guns which can only be used in self defence.

The police have a need to be safe just like us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347309)

If such features become mandatory, then they have to be mandatory for police as well. It isn't in the interest of society to make the police less safe.

Because you want your gun to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347323)

Because you want your gun to work, not have a bunch of computerized shit on it. Biometric sensors and close proximity wireless is flaky.

Illusion of safety (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347341)

With a gun, like with climbing gear, the responsibility for saftey lies solely between the ears of the operator. The safest gun, like the safest climbing gear, is the one with the simplest possible operation that functions exactly the same way every time. Anything that creates the illusion that some component of the system can be relied upon to be responsible for the safety of the system ultimately lowers the safety of the system because it:
1) Increases the mechanical complexity of the system. More parts to fail, jam, or otherwise not operate as expected
2) Changes the behavior of the system based on the configuration. You shouldn't create a system that develops a sense of complacency in users because it's safe to do something in one configuration but not in another. In a situation that isn't intentionally firing the gun, a user shouldn't pull the trigger on a weapon without checking the chamber because he or she is relying on a magazine safety to prevent it from firing. At some ponit, encouraging this fundamentally dangerous behavior will come back and bite some user in the ass because they'll do the fundamentally unsafe thing when the system isn't in the "safe" configuration of having the magazine removed.
People get complacent, and complacency results in people doing unsafe things.

Gun safety (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347347)

It's a gun. Made for shooting bullets to kill. Guns and safe just doesn't go hand in hand . Ever! It is only people that like guns that think they are safe. Until a vice-president shoots you in the face.

Immunity (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 2 years ago | (#42347349)

The reason why the PLCAA was passed was to prevent executive agencies from attempting to implement their own de-facto gun control via regulation, and to shut down a spate of lawsuits by a couple of states Attorneys General who were attempting to do the same thing via litigation on cases that had little to no basis in law, but were so costly that the manufacturers would have to "cave in" and settle.

As for the other features, they all suffer from a glaring weakness in that it is trivially easy to bypass them in one way or another. Let's keep in mind that firearms are, at their core, just a pipe with a relatively simple mechanism behind it to smack a pin into the back of a cartridge. Even autoloading mechanisms only have a few parts, and it is physically impossible to prevent someone from disassembling the weapon and jamming the mechanism into a permanent "fire" mode with a drop of glue, a small screw, or even by just taking some lever out. All that it really would do is add cost and reduce reliability.

The most important rule of gun safety (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 2 years ago | (#42347369)

The gun is always loaded.

In other words, always treat a gun like it's loaded even if you don't think it is.

Re:The most important rule of gun safety (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347467)

No one treats a gun that way. They would be impossible to clean if you did.

Re:The most important rule of gun safety (1, Informative)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 2 years ago | (#42347591)

If you're a pedant, sure. However, you can verify it's not loaded if you have disassembled it, ass.

Mine doesn't have any safety features (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347375)

And I prefer it that way. Dead simple to use. Stupidly reliable. No safety to worry about when adrenaline is pumping through your brain.

Re:Mine doesn't have any safety features (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347603)

And no remorse when it goes off accidentally and a round is pumping through your brain...

Window dressing (0)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42347379)

This is window dressing by the gun lobby to try and head off sorely-needed firearms regulations.

The key issue is that people not responsible enough to get guns are getting them. TFA is missing the point -- safety and use by unauthoritized users isn't the issue here -- it's that people who are dangerous to others with firearms are getting them.

Positive change isn't likely while the US (and the far Right in particular) persist with their fetish with the US Constitution, as if it were some kind of holy object. The people who wrote that document did it in a hurry, 250 years ago, in completely different circumstances to today.

Buyers are picky. (3, Insightful)

brandorf (586083) | about 2 years ago | (#42347387)

Many gun owners seem to be particular about the amount and type of safety mechanisms they will accept on a gun. One good example is the key lock system that you see on Taurus and S&W Revolvers. It's just a small mechanism w/ special key that renders the gun inoperable if locked, and it is completely optional, however it's not difficult to see cases of individuals refusing to buy one for that reason alone, or looking to get a "pre-lock" version of the weapon.

Magazine Safeties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347399)

Last I was aware, magazine safeties were pretty ubiquitous on semiautomatic handguns. As for any of the more advanced stuff, you're usually talking about compromises on cost, complexity, reliability and readiness. And, like the article makes a great point of, most of these lightning-strike shootings are done by people who either legally owned the firearms, or regularly fired them and would logically be coded in as authorized users. As for the story about the guy who went to sell his guns and left a round in the chamber, he's an idiot - even the NRA pounds on the point that a gun shouldn't be transported loaded, and I can't imagine why even someone who thinks they need to keep it loaded for protection or convenience would do so on their way to sell it. As a former PA resident, which is where that story comes from, I think it's another example of why the state needs to require handgun safety training for CCW permit holders like most other states do.

Re:Magazine Safeties (1)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42347647)

Last I was aware, magazine safeties were pretty ubiquitous on semiautomatic handguns.

Nope. They are common, but far from ubiquitous. Two reasons:

1) Some older designs simply don't have them.

2) Some people don't want them. If you're thinking about the "lightning strikes" scenarios, then it's possible you'd suddenly want to fire that last round halfway through changing mags...

bond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347403)

just because bond uses it doesn't mean it actually works.

there is a strong dislike for batteries and required electronics for normal operation of a firearm.

Users grip? oops I switched hands. biometrics? it is cold and you wear gloves?

Magazine disconnect, another thing to go wrong. some guns have it some don't. consumers have a choice.

Dear "gun control" advocates (2, Funny)

AntiBasic (83586) | about 2 years ago | (#42347407)

http://imgur.com/Jinky

Which one of these two guns should be banned and why?

Re:Dear "gun control" advocates (0, Troll)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#42347553)

Which one of these two guns should be banned

Both of them?

and why?

Because they're guns?

Any other questions?

There are 4 rules to firearm safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347427)

The Four Rules of Firearms Handling

by Jeff Cooper

Rule 1
All guns are always loaded

Rule 2
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not prepared to destroy

Rule 3
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target

Rule 4
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it

If everyone followed these four basic rules there would be no accidents.

As for the trigger identification and the grip identification these are not 100% accurate. When police choose firearms they standardize the firearm so if for some reason Officer B has to use Officer A firearm it will be just like his own. These "safeties" will not work for police officers.

In reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347443)

I'd have to say the grip pattern idea is a no-go. In a self defence situation my grip pattern would likely be different than 'on the range', just because I might not have time to assume my normal grip.

I'd tend to avoid computers in general. Mechanical systems may have a higher rate of failure, but 'unjamming' a computer in the field is not something that I'd want to deal with. The magazine safety looks to have some practical use, though.

Guns (0)

Muramas95 (2459776) | about 2 years ago | (#42347455)

Here is a crazy idea, GET RID OF THEM. If people want to go hunting let them use bows and there is no reason to have automatic weapons and handguns.

great idea...NOT! (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42347457)

Yeah, that's what I want. A gun that I know might not fire if I'm not gripping it completely consistently. My laptop won't even log me in via my fingerprint half the time. If I pull the trigger, I want it to fire 100% of the time.

If I pull the trigger while a bullet is chambered but the mag is out, it's because I pretended to disarm it when someone else had a gun on me and I still want the chambered one to fire. If I REALLY want to disarm it, I'll un-chamber the last round, which takes approx 0.25 seconds in most pistols.

If you need a special indicator to tell you if the gun is loaded because you don't know how to check otherwise, you shouldn't have a gun, because you're an idiot.

What they really need to do is keep guns out of the hands of idiots who don't know what they're doing. That would solve all the problem actually.

Re:great idea...NOT! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42347645)

Yeah, that's what I want. A gun that I know might not fire if I'm not gripping it completely consistently.

You'd be amazed how many guns that describes. Not so much ones that won't fire, but ones that will jam, or whose safety features are difficult to use if you don't fit them with the proper grip and hold them correctly.

So it won't work if your hand is injured? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#42347477)

That's a great idea, indeed. Morons.

Re:So it won't work if your hand is injured? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42347633)

Indeed, firearms should be both ambidextrous and operable with one hand unless there is some compelling reason why you need two hands to use them. Of course, you then have to practice with your off hand for that to be useful...

gun accidents are rare (3)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 2 years ago | (#42347479)

Since firearms accidents are quite rare (you're more than five times more likely to die in a fire than a gun accident [nsc.org] , with just 600 out of 128,200 unintentional injury deaths in 2009 being from firearms), and "smart gun" technologies mostly would interfere with the ability to quickly deploy guns for defensive purposes, the call for these technologies ranges from well-intentioned ignorance to a back-door attempt to drive up the price of guns and make self-defense tools unavailable to poor people.

Reliability is a safety feature (1)

wufpak (204617) | about 2 years ago | (#42347481)

If you put yourself in the mindset of someone who owns a weapon for personal defense, then the single most important safety feature is that the weapon goes "bang" when the trigger is pulled. From an engineering standpoint, any additional gizmos on the gun to keep it from going "bang" on command are *guaranteed* to reduce reliability. If someone is coming at you with deadly force, having an unreliable gun in your hand is a huge safety issue.

This particular gun design debate is similar to the "Boeing versus Airbus" design philosophy debate, and for similar reasons: ultimately, do you let the safety systems over-ride the pilot, or do you let the pilot over-ride the safety systems?

Guns kill people (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347487)

So a machine designed to kill people, and was recently used by a child to kill lots of people, can be made to kill fewer people?

I have an idea, ban guns. Same as Europe, where the death rate from guns is a tiny fraction of the death rate from guns in the US. And before the Republicans and NRA talk their ***p, no the overall rate is far lower too.

The gun enables kill options, that simply wouldn't be possible if you only were armed with a knife and reducing the number of guns means criminals with guns are a lot easier to catch spot and arrest.

If the kid didn't have a gun, then the schoolkids would be alive today. The NRA caused those deaths with their lobbying.

DRM for guns? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347489)

Isn't grip recognition essentially DRM for guns?
It prevents usage from an unauthorized user.
An unauthorized user would take steps to remove this feature from the gun before use.
How many deaths occur from someone picking up a gun and using it before having time to test fire it and thus having time to remove this feature?
Premeditated attacks will not be significantly reduced.
Accidents will be reduced so there is some benefit there.

My main concern with this idea is how often would this method fail to identify an authorized user?
From the linked document, it appears to identify a grip by finger placement and possibly pressure.
Considering the difference between one user's grip and pressure is supposed to be detectable then small changes in someone's grip would mark them as unauthorized.
In a tense moment when a gun might be needed, someone shifts their grip and is suddenly unauthorized.
Whatever the failure rate of this detection system, that rate is a possible number of times that someone would be unable to fire their weapon when they may need it.
If a soldier would be unable to trust their weapon to fire there is quite a bit of loss of confidence in them defending themselves.

So, in short, I'm concerned that this will function just like video game DRM: It's fairly easily removed by unauthorized users so that authorized users have trouble with the feature where unauthorized users do not.

We need more competent people, not smart guns (1)

iwaki007 (118291) | about 2 years ago | (#42347495)

A serious flaw exists whether or not we have smart guns. The individual who is contemplating a crime with a gun as their tool doesn't care if they know that a bullet is in the chamber, or of the magazine is in. Their goal is to commit a crime. Hell, someone could be killed with a #2 pencil. Where are the smart pencils? What about smart kitchen knives that automatically dull themselves when the user is about to cut their finger? Smart guns just will not work as long as there are crazed idiots out there who somehow manage to obtain a gun.

Metal Gear Solid 4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347521)

We're getting there...

How dare they?! (1)

Syphonius (11602) | about 2 years ago | (#42347531)

How dare those evil gun makers not make their products more fragile, less likely to fire and more prone to failure! If only guns could be made as safe as a child's toy,

Flamebait article (1)

Arker (91948) | about 2 years ago | (#42347567)

Firearms manufacturers certainly do have an incentive to make their products safer. Just not an incentive so powerful as to completely over-ride other concerns, as the poster would like. Everyone would like a safer firearm and most are even happy to pay extra for it - IF it still functions reliably, IF it isnt TOO MUCH more. Systems currently available tend to be very expensive and have serious drawbacks, which limits their sales. As those systems are refined and perfected people sales will improve. But the manufacturers have to actually provide a system that the customers are happy with, rather than rushing to break things that we rely on in order to make victim-disarmament advocates... well, celebrate and then go right back on the attack shortly after, I am sure.

This is what really eats him up. He doesnt like firearms manufacturers offering what firearms buyers want in the first place, and he'd like to see any law passed that would interfere.

Safety? What Safety?? (4, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#42347575)

Two reasons:

1) How can you make something "safe" that has the explicit purpose of being fatal
2) therefore a gun NOT firing when needed is seen as a DECLINE in safety.

Have had some of these for years (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#42347613)

I remember seeing a Tales of the Gun on the History channel (you know, back when they did history) that included smart gun technology. The prototype had a watch-sized wristband that had to be behind the gun for it to be able to fire. This was maybe 10-15 years ago. The fact that it is still not out shows how difficult these kinds of countermeasures are to bring into practice.

Also, by Taurus PT-22 (use it for carry and plinking) has 3 different safety mechanisms. One is a standard switch safety. The second immobilizes the slide when the magazine is removed. The third is actually a built-in lock that is turned by an allen wrench that also prevents the firearm from discharging. My Sig Sauer SP2022 has only a loaded chamber indicator. However, may main safety when it comes to firearms is simply not keeping a round in the chamber.

Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347619)

Lets make guns that only can be fired at a target that is a real threat. We will have a much safer environment if weapons were intelligent... oh wait, why do I see Terminators running all over the place.

Wrong question (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#42347629)

So the answer to solve the problem of people with emotional/psychological problems, or plain drunk, or whatever having weapons is to keep selling them weapons, but with extra features and more expensive?

That is the answer for the question of how to get more profit for the gun makers, not for making guns madshooter proof.

Every gun is loaded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347639)

It doesn't matter what any indicator mechanism says.

If anything it would lead to more deaths as idiots start twirling their pistolos around like they were billy the kid, because hey, the gun is safe, right? This 20 cent gizmo says so.

Want a car analogy? Don't park your car on a 45% incline and expect some little cable to stop it from rolling downhill and killing someone. Assume that parking brakes don't work. Assume every gun is loaded. Assume every email attachment is a trojan/virus.

A fail-proof technology design solution (-1, Troll)

jkrise (535370) | about 2 years ago | (#42347653)

I would install Embedded Vista in all guns, which has a very strict safety algorithm built into its core. You lift the gun, and it says:

Are you sure you want to lift a loaded gun? If Yes, press the 3rd button under the barrel to continue.

You do that, and take aim; it says:

Are you sure you are aiming at the correct target?
If Yes, press the blue button to continue.

You manage to do that, and press the trigger, you hear a voice:

Do you really want to shoot?

  If Yes, turn the gun around and aim at your head. And like all faithful, intelligent Vista users, the idiot blows his brains out. Very safe and foolproof design. And besides, you have to sign the EULA when you purchase it as well..

what the hell is going on here? (4, Funny)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42347683)

The editor, timothy, corrected the egregious errors in the submission while letting the parts worthy of commentary and debate stand. He did what an editor is supposed to do! Maybe 12/22 will be the end of the world after all, and this is one of the first signs of the imminent apocalypse!

Technolgy trumping human frailty (1)

KenP40 (2759733) | about 2 years ago | (#42347691)

What a grand idea. If we did that with hammer's to limit their misuses, we could really cut down the blunt force trauma deaths too.

In Oregon a Conceal Carry Stopped the Mass Shooter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42347693)

The shooter saw he was going to be shot by a civilian shopper and he popped his own skull. The civilian was holding his fire until he had a clear safe shot. http://www.kgw.com/news/Clackamas-man-armed-confronts-mall-shooter-183593571.html [kgw.com]
What if the CCW person had been hit and his friend couldn't operate his friends handgun thanks to a magic grip lock, what if it had required shooting the mental case.
Lets safe the nutters first, socialize your mental health so not only the rich and union members can access it. If you are worried about that being socialist burn your libaries and public schools first.
Here in Israel my kids teacher packs a glock, it is ilegal for them to go on a class trip without two fireams being loaned by police to trained teachers or guards. There is an armed guard at every school and preschool as well as most shops and malls. OTOH getting a gun permit is difficult to impossible unless you have a reason and then for one pistol and 50 bullets. The rifles you see are all army owned and required for all off duty draft age soldiers or rarely loaned to reserve police or anti-terrorist team members similar to volunteer firefighters.

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