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A Look at Smart Gun Technology

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the shoot-first dept.

Technology 765

An anonymous reader writes "Engadget takes a look at smart gun technology currently available and what the future might hold. From the article: 'While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved, there are a number of problems with the concept. Chief among those worries: the safety mechanism will fail when it's needed most. If you're relying on a weapon for defense, the last thing you want is another avenue for failure. Electronics aren't perfect. Sometimes cameras can't autofocus. Cable boxes freeze up when browsing the channel guide. The equivalent, seemingly small glitch in a smart gun could be the difference between life and death.'"

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And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass it (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980015)

You forgot that any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass the technology.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 4 months ago | (#46980037)

Well actually an idiot with a soldering iron will probably "brick" the weapon. It might make a nice club or hammer afterwards. Now a skilled technician with a soldering iron is another matter.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (5, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | about 4 months ago | (#46980081)

[bad guy disarms person with smart gun] "Wait, hang on"... [he pulls out soldering iron]... "I'm gonna shoot you".... [soldering].... "hey where are you going?"

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980157)

How many disarms have you ever heard of???
Hard to disarm me when I'm firing center of mass.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980511)

It's called "glove box"

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46980243)

[bad guy disarms person with smart gun]

Until I see someone cite an actual statistic of how many people are disarmed and shot with their own weapons, I'm going to continue to see these sorts of claims as hyperbole, and rightfully so.

"Wait, hang on"... [he pulls out soldering iron]... "I'm gonna shoot you".... [soldering].... "hey where are you going?"

I think OP's contention is that the criminal is going to steal the gun and, at some later point, disable the disabling mechanism, at his leisure. Hell, mayhaps someday there will be groups of criminals that specialize in de-smarting firearms, presuming there's ever an actual market for the damn things to begin with.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

tthomas48 (180798) | about 4 months ago | (#46980351)

Yeah, it's my understanding that the majority of disarmings happen at the funerals of the gun owner who committed suicide.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980357)

In other words, total nonsense.
Private citizens, carrying concealed?
I don't think I've ever heard of a disarm and shoot.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (4, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | about 4 months ago | (#46980273)

If you are defending yourself with your smart gun and the person takes it away from you, I'm pretty sure that if they can't shoot you with it that they will still be able to beat you to death with it. And if they are the kind of person who can and will disarm someone then they probably can beat you up, too. Either way, I'll take my chances that someone else might get my gun over my gun not firing when I really need it to. I can train to deal with misfires, not with electronic malfunctions.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980463)

You've watched too many Hollywood movies.

Bludgeoning somebody is a very hard action compared to firing a gun.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#46980285)

(good guy has smart gun) (bad guy has normal gun)

Wait, hang on, I need to scan my finger before we can have this duel!!!

Re: And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (1)

Izuzan (2620111) | about 4 months ago | (#46980377)

Or you get a *click click click* just a second mugger. My smart gun isnt working.. no dont stab m.........

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980537)

Well when you consider that current smart guns only need to be near the rf transmitter to work the crook only needs to hold it near the watch or ring or whatever to shoot the owner.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980069)

Because I can get a decent handgun for about 500 bucks, or I can buy a $2000 smart gun and ruin it with my soldering iron?

I wouldn't mind buying a smart gun if it was a good, quality firearm. Choices are good. I just don't want it to be the only kind of gun I can get.

You know The Party will demand a killswitch on your smart gun, right? And telemetry metadata on where the gun has been. Perhaps a smart round that the gun owner must digitally sign with two-factor.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980183)

When the bullet detonates your brain bucket, you'll be wishing it came from a smart gun. Remember, when the law is passed requiring all guns be 'smart', only criminals will possess the unlocked guns and will use them to do great bodily harm to your children.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46980289)

Remember, when the law is passed requiring all guns be 'smart', only criminals will possess the unlocked guns and will use them to do great bodily harm to your children.

If you're trying to imply that the introduction of "smart" gun mandates will magically cause the cops (who won't be required to have them) will instantly become a pack of criminals... I'd say that horse has already left the barn.

Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46980301)

Note to self - start proofreading your own proofreading, dork.

Re: And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (0)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980203)

What does it matter if somebody demands a kill switch? If somebody adds that in, then we are free to not buy the gun. If they leave it out, then the smart gun is more appealing. In any case, I don't yet see anyone who matters who is demanding this kill switch feature in the first place. Way too much tin foil hat.

Re: And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (1)

cogeek (2425448) | about 4 months ago | (#46980295)

Keep up on the laws, multiple states have laws in place that require this technology be installed on all handguns once it's available. Whether it works or not doesn't matter, just if it's available.

Re: And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypas (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980467)

Which states? I googled a bit, came up with nothing.

Tech isn't there yet (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 4 months ago | (#46980031)

Just like many of the current rube goldberg-ish "less-lethal weapons", the tech to make a "smart gun" just isn't there yet. Every entry in this field has it's list of failures and impracticalities.

That's not to say we shouldn't stop trying. We'll probably get there eventually. It's just not something we can do right now. At the very least progress has clearly been made. I remember years ago they'd talk about "smart guns" and they'd involve special clips or holsters which would have been absolutely ridiculous in the kind of scenarios where you'd want a gun. At least now the ideal case seems practical and we are arguing about reliability.

Camera gun (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46980063)

They can put a camera on the gun today. That's what they ought to focus on. Maybe someday we'll have guns smart enough to only take disabling shots, or phasers on stun. But today, we can at least establish where a gun was pointed when it was fired, and get an idea of the situation in which it was fired which doesn't depend on testimony. These ought to be mandatory on cop guns, and optional everywhere else to start with. Maybe you need a camera on your gun for it to be legal to also possess the ammo at the same time anywhere but private property with permission, for example.

Re: Camera gun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980283)

Bad guys would just tape over the camera.

Re: Camera gun (1)

sethradio (2603921) | about 4 months ago | (#46980331)

Bad guys would just tape over the camera.

Common sense, right?

Re:Camera gun (4, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 months ago | (#46980293)

Disabling shots are irresponsible, unsafe, and ineffective.

If you can deal with a situation without lethal force (accounting for disparity of force, ability to do act, and reasonable-person standard of self defense), then you are obligated to do so. You are more likely to miss (especially under stress), will achieve far less knock-down, tells a jury that you are so goddamn awesome that you probably didn't need to shoot, and you are trying to hit something still filled with things like femoral and brachial arteries so it may result in you BOTH being dead.

Center mass if you can, Mozambique if you have to.

Re:Camera gun (2)

s122604 (1018036) | about 4 months ago | (#46980519)

The only place that I know "disabling" shots are taught as a practice is in the prison system.
The system just isn't that concerned if the convict being "disabled" ends up dying. If the correctional officer "misses" and the disabling shot goes center mass, the only thing that is going to happen to him is some more range time

Its a really bad idea on the street though

Re:Camera gun (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#46980409)

how about we just learn to respect the constitution in all regards again

the second amendment is literally 3 or 4 sentences long. I dont know why its so hard to understand the law that says the government "shall not infringe" Mandating ANYTHING is infringing

And dont give me that BS about how well regulated means regulations, it does not. It means well armed. I am all for smart guns, as long as I have my choice to buy a non smart gun signed, this non gun owner in a home with many

Re:Tech isn't there yet (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 months ago | (#46980151)

The FN303 is a pretty solid piece of less-lethal technology.

Re:Tech isn't there yet (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#46980315)

Just like many of the current rube goldberg-ish "less-lethal weapons", the tech to make a "smart gun" just isn't there yet. Every entry in this field has it's list of failures and impracticalities.

I wouldn't exactly call Tasers "Rube Goldberg", but you have a point. Here's mine:

Correct, the tech isn't there yet. Because as I showed here last year, the weapon has to work for the authorized user approximately 99.999% of the time in order for this tech to be feasible. (Yes, I know that seems like an outrageous number, but there are solid statistical reasons for it.)

The problem isn't rejecting unauthorized users. The problem is that nobody has come close to being able to reliably reject unauthorized users while at the same time maintaining that 99.999% reliability for the authorized users.

There is no doubt whatever that it is a difficult task. And nobody is anywhere near achieving it yet.

Re:Tech isn't there yet (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#46980389)

I almost forgot to add:

It isn't just that the electronics are not yet up to snuff. Simply relying on anything powered by a battery reduces the reliability to well below that essential 99.999%. So at this particular moment in time, even trying to do this is probably a massive waste of effort.

Anything powered by a battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980527)

So your requirements for a gun's reliability are higher than for a pacemaker?

MGS4 (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 4 months ago | (#46980035)

Might want to try a playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 4 before going all-in on this idea.

Re:MGS4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980411)

Why? You don't like sweet nuclear armed robots fighting in a Godzilla type match in Alaska?

Joy... this again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980055)

Hey, let's see who can copy down first all the tired arguments from the discussion from a couple days ago?

Flawed reasoning (5, Insightful)

GlobalEcho (26240) | about 4 months ago | (#46980073)

the last thing you want is another avenue for failure

That's not a very bright statement. What you should wish to avoid is for something bad to happen. One way that can happen is indeed for a gun to fail when it needs to work, but there are others, for example having an unseen companion assailant seize the gun and shoot you with it.

It's all about the probabilities of various scenarios, and anyone failing to incorporate that that in their evaluation is not worth listening to. (For the record, I have no opinion about what those probabilities are, but live in such a safe place that I don't consider bothering with a gun.)

Re:Flawed reasoning (1, Insightful)

mojo-raisin (223411) | about 4 months ago | (#46980337)

Having a gun fail is bad.

We have a Right to functioning guns and "wish[es] to avoid is for something bad" are irrelevant. I always want my semis to work. Always. What someone else wishes is up to them.

Re: Flawed reasoning (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980495)

No machine is 100% reliable.

Re:Flawed reasoning (1)

Improv (2467) | about 4 months ago | (#46980541)

Always? If someone did manage to grab your gun and aims it at you, I think you'd prefer your gun to fail at that point.

You forgot something (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980093)

"The NRA priesthood and their gun nut acolytes will see your ownership or sale of smart guns as a sin against the Firearm, and threaten to kill your heretical ass". Do a Google news search for "Belinda Padilla" or "Andy Raymond" for more info.

whatever (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980147)

whatever

Don't shoot me with that thang! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980435)

oh Zardoz! Look, it's another bloody brutal crawling out of the woodpile!

The sanctity of the Vortex must be protected.

Life or death (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980105)

This probably isn't going to be a popular post but as someone who lives in a country where guns aren't allowed, having a gun or not is not a difference of life and death. Like not even remotely.

That sentence makes it sound like where the poster lives he has to deal with gun violence daily. Like going to a supermarket might have you end up in a gunfight where you better be prepared to go Rambo on someone's ass.

That's not a place I'd want to live in and luckily I don't.

Surely this is scaremongering right? Or does anyone actually worry about such scenarios on a daily basis?

Re:Life or death (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#46980433)

This probably isn't going to be a popular post but as someone who lives in a country where guns aren't allowed, having a gun or not is not a difference of life and death. Like not even remotely.

Glad to hear you live in a country with zero deaths from violent crime ever.

Where is that again, exactly? So we can check your statistics.

Have a nice time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980113)

Firearms owner and avid shooter here. If a company can make a "smart" gun that people want to buy, more power to 'em. Go forth and do so, but, without any government subsidies or other such nonsense propping them up. As for myself, I'll stick with my tried-and-true, old-fashioned guns for my shooting enjoyment and the defense of myself and family, thank you very much.

Re: Have a nice time (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980249)

Why should the government not help along this niche industry? It may actually be in the government's own financial interest to do so, especially if such technologies actually do reduce deaths and injuries from firearms. There are a lot of accidental deaths due to children getting hold of guns... that alone gives the government a moral imperative to support smart guns already.

Re: Have a nice time (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 months ago | (#46980483)

It may actually be in the government's own financial interest to do so, especially if such technologies actually do reduce deaths and injuries from firearms.

I don't know which government you're referring to, but the United States profits from deaths and injuries. Cold to say it, but they do. Inheritance taxes are significant. The medical system is rife with taxation at every level. In a world where there are fewer deaths and injuries, the government almost certainly loses money.

There are a lot of accidental deaths due to children getting hold of guns... that alone gives the government a moral imperative to support smart guns already.

Except governments don't have any moral imperative to protect children, unless granted one by the voters.

Re:Have a nice time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980303)

The problem is that the only "smart" gun on the market is a .22. Yes, this round is lethal, but what would be ideal would be something in conventional calibers (9mm, .40, .45, etc.)

I'm on the fence about "smart" guns. Were the lawmakers [1] not wanting to ram regulations down our throats and force them on us, it came in a useful caliber, was reliable [2], it wouldn't be bad as a carry piece. However as things are now, I'll stick to conventional stuff.

[1]: I fear the criminal gangs that will result from gun control. Look at the gangs from the "war on drugs". They have armies, navies, and an air force with UAVs, for crying out loud. Look at what Prohibition got us. Now, look at an American insatiable demand for firearms + them being illegal. Might as well have two governments, both of them enacting laws being in force, and paying taxes to both parties or else facing consequences meted by either.

[2]: Lets be real here, a "smart" gun isn't going to last 1000 rounds. A normal pistol's break-in is 1000 rounds to make sure that there are no FTF or other issues.

Which is more likely? (2)

Calydor (739835) | about 4 months ago | (#46980117)

The question, then, becomes obvious: Is it more likely that the perp will take your gun and shoot you (there has got to be statistics for this somewhere) or that the identifying electronics will fail and render the gun inert?

Furthermore, should it be obvious to the guy being aimed at that the gun is inert? Just the threat of being shot might be enough to deter a lot of people.

Re: Which is more likely? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980305)

Training and experience are huge. A novice with neither of those typically endangers themself when pulling out a gun on an assailant. While for a pro, obviously the gun is an asset. So the smart gun ought to appeal to the novice more than the pro.

When police and military start using them . . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980119)

I'll start using "smart" guns when the police and military issue them as primary guns. Any reason for those organizations to use or reject them applies to the citizens.

What's the point? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980121)

Americans will never go for something that stands between them and their childish penchant for firearms, and not-so-childish penchant for shooting first and asking questions later. Yeehaw!

This is a solution in search of a problem. (5, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 4 months ago | (#46980129)

Gun enthusiasts have no interest in this technology. Who wants something that will reduce reliability and increase price?

The only people pushing for it are those who dislike the idea of civilian firearm ownership.

That's more than enough to make me suspicious.

LK

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | about 4 months ago | (#46980381)

I want it. Maybe I am not a current gun owner, but have small kids. Maybe I live in a safe area so the likelihood of needing a gun is low, but I might still want one in case. Maybe I don't want my kids to accidentally use it. So I can see a need for it.

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980485)

Buy a safe.
Problem for your kids is solved.

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (2)

jittles (1613415) | about 4 months ago | (#46980487)

I want it. Maybe I am not a current gun owner, but have small kids. Maybe I live in a safe area so the likelihood of needing a gun is low, but I might still want one in case. Maybe I don't want my kids to accidentally use it. So I can see a need for it.

You could get a trigger and slide lock if you're just trying to keep kids from using it. The cable lock prevents you from loading any ammunition and the trigger lock prevents you from being able to pull the trigger even if you cut the cable lock. That's pretty foolproof. Not great for self-defense, but great to prevent unauthorized use in general. Of course if someone steals the gun and has the time and tools, they can defeat both locks.

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (4, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 4 months ago | (#46980517)

I too have small children. I too am concerned for their safety.

I buy safes to store my firearms. For far less than the cost of one of these guns, you can buy a regular gun and a good safe.

LK

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (5, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 4 months ago | (#46980443)

Not to be conspiratorial, but here we go. The first step is to have "smart" guns that will only fire when in the hands of the owner. The second step is to require all firearms to be "smart" guns. The third step is, for everyone's safety, to combat crime, and of course for the children, is to require that all smart guns now have a kill switch. That way the government can safely disable a criminal's firearm.

Since people like Bloomberg are unable to remove firearms from the populace entirely (right now), this is the kind of thing they will push for because it will effectively give them the control they want.

Re:This is a solution in search of a problem. (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#46980533)

Gun enthusiasts have no interest in this technology. Who wants something that will reduce reliability and increase price?

The only people pushing for it are those who dislike the idea of civilian firearm ownership.

That's more than enough to make me suspicious.

LK

It pains me to do this, but I'm going to have to bring forth the "Think of the children" argument.

Its well known that if you have a gun in the home that you are more likely to die a violent death. At that also includes family members who also reside in your home. Now you could say a responsible gun owner would make their weapon safe (and I know there are plenty of responsible gun owners) - but that smacks of a true scotsman argument as its the irresponsible ones who are leading this death charge. And as with all populations that can be described with a bell curve, more gun ownership means more idiots owning guns, which means more innocent people dying.

So if the dumb fucks who don't/won't secure their weapons, how else do you protect the innocents aside from making sure that the dumb fuck's guns are secured for them?

Education obviously hasn't worked as the dumb fucks are still leaving unsecured weapons lying around. The only other solution is to ensure that the dumb fucks don't have weapons .. and even I know how that stance would fly.

The bigger picture (2, Insightful)

wytcld (179112) | about 4 months ago | (#46980141)

The odds of your gun being grabbed and used against you are high. The odds of your toddler picking up your gun and using it on family or friend are significant - it happens at least several times a week in this country. So any instances of this new tech failing and depriving you of use of your gun when you need it should be balanced against the lives saved, including your own, by the tech working as designed.

Re:The bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980307)

That is your choice to make. If you believe it is balanced then you can get a smart gun.

Re:The bigger picture (2)

imag0 (605684) | about 4 months ago | (#46980313)

[citation needed]

Re:The bigger picture (4, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#46980317)

The odds of your gun being grabbed and used against you are high.

Weird that we carried guns at all when I was in the Marine Corps then, huh? The enemy might have taken it away from me!

The odds of your toddler picking up your gun and using it on family or friend are significant - it happens at least several times a week in this country.

Wow, really? A couple hundred deaths a year from toddlers alone? Please cite a source for that, other than your ass.

Re:The bigger picture (3, Informative)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46980507)

Wow, really? A couple hundred deaths a year from toddlers alone? Please cite a source for that, other than your ass.

A couple hundred deaths per year of children 12 and under, not toddlers, with no info on the ages of the shooters.

Re:The bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980329)

Total myth. The reason that you're more likely to be killed by your own gun than kill an intruder is suicides.
 
Somehow the anti-gun crowd has twisted this around to make people think that you're more likely to be disarmed by an intruder than you are to stop an intruder with your own firearm. The fact of the matter is that just over half of all firearm related deaths in the US are suicides (almost 20000 in 2012). The vast majority of those are done with a gun owned by the person committing suicide. Thus, you're more likely to die by your own gun than to kill an intruder assuming that you point the gun at your own frigging head and pull the trigger.

Re:The bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980371)

Hmm. Does it actually happen several times a week? Or is it more like several times a year? Would be glad to see statistics either way.

Anyway. If a toddler is handling a gun, something has already gone horribly wrong. The best and most-reliable technology here involves a gun safe. (Not that defense-in-depth is a terrible idea in and of itself, mind you.)

Re:The bigger picture (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 months ago | (#46980373)

The odds of your gun being grabbed and used against you are high.

No... not really. The odds of you EVER needing your gun to fight off a "bad guy" who may try to grab your gun are slim to not.

Re:The bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980437)

No, the odds of someone grabbing it out of your hands and using on you are incredibly low.
This tech is worse then worthless.

Re:The bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980445)

Facts not in evidence.

Cops won't touch the tech for a reason.

Re:The bigger picture (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46980497)

The odds of your gun being grabbed and used against you are high.

No, they are infinitesimal. This basically never happens.

The odds of your toddler picking up your gun and using it on family or friend are significant - it happens at least several times a week in this country.

Now that does indeed happen, tragically. But: 1) there are simpler ways to prevent it, 2) the actual odds are way down in the 1 in something-100,000 range.

Cost, benefit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980149)

So, we should ignore all of the accidental shootings that could be prevented because of the chance that a few legitimate ones that might possible be affected.
And isn't brandishing a gun typically enough to stop a crime? How often does it actually need to be fired?

Beginning of slippery slope attack. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980155)

1. We need smart guns because people die, even if it's just for fun and not mandated, let's try to build them!

2. Injury data from smart vs non smart guns is used to show how amazing they are.

3. Mandate that every *new* gun is smart but old non smart guns are allowed to be held.

4. More data showing older non-smart guns are now hurting people.

5. Ban all non smart guns.

6. CIA/NSA/FBI conspire and decide they need a global "smart gun kill switch".

7. Armed forces and national guard roll tanks and APCs down civilian roads and enable the kill switch.

8. Look at Russia vs Ukraine to see how simple this would have been. Russia rolls in, their covert commandos attack the building controlling the kill switch signal and suddenly the whole nation is disarmed and ripe for the plundering.

Solution without a problem (2)

qwijibo (101731) | about 4 months ago | (#46980171)

This topic keeps coming up, but there isn't a market for this product. Are the target audience also people who want:

Bicycles for fish
Mouse traps that don't kill mice, but embarrass them into moving next door
Any item advertised via spam

Re:Solution without a problem (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 4 months ago | (#46980335)

The problem isn't the lack of market. You develop a smart gun because you think you can get politicians to mandate smart guns. That's why there's all the hate mail and threats from gun nuts. They don't want these guns, it's a dumb idea, and it will probably be forced on them eventually.

Re: Solution without a problem (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46980365)

Suburban households with kids present.

Re: Solution without a problem (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46980425)

Suburban households with kids present.

If those people are that concerned about it, why buy a gun at all?

Re: Solution without a problem (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#46980531)

Put them out of reach of the small children and teach firearm discipline to the older ones. I certainly knew to keep my hands off guns by the time I was six.

Re: Solution without a problem (1)

Izuzan (2620111) | about 4 months ago | (#46980543)

If it was designed for them, they would store them correctly to remove any chance of a child shooting someone. And with proper training somone is not going to have themselves disarmed and the gun used on them. So where is the need of a smart gun ?

Really a smart gun is a solution for idiots that dont know anything about firearms ownership or firearms training.

a sign of lack of seriousness (5, Insightful)

fche (36607) | about 4 months ago | (#46980181)

A sign that all this legal posturing is not about what it claims is the perpetual exemption of law enforcement from being subjected to technological gun-tracing / -smartening efforts. The lives of police are no more important than ordinary citizens'. If it's not good enough for the boys and girls in blue, it's not good enough for civilians. After all, civilians are almost always closer to the place & time of crime than the police.

Anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980185)

Ever heard of anyone calling out of work because the computer controlling their car is broke?

Cops Won't Carry 'Em, Neither Will I (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46980195)

Should that battery die, the gun could fail to fire. In fact, most models designed for civilian use are designed to fail if the battery dies. It's been suggested that smart guns designed for law enforcement should automatically disable the safety if the battery dies.

If a government agent won't carry a default-LOCKED "smart" weapon, why should anyone else have to? The people pushing for such mandates apparently slept through Civics class.

How about this: If a person wants to buy a "smart" gun, let them; if a person wants to buy a regular gun, let them. If a person wants to use any weapon of any kind to harm another in a non-defensive manner, let them suffer the previously agreed-upon social consequences (i.e., jail time, fines, death, etc.). Thus freedom is preserved, and only those who are actually guilty of harming others are punished, rather than the population as a whole.

Re:Cops Won't Carry 'Em, Neither Will I (1)

psmears (629712) | about 4 months ago | (#46980455)

Thus freedom is preserved, and only those who are actually guilty of harming others, and those who get shot by them, are punished, rather than the population as a whole.

FTFY...

guns are stupid (1, Interesting)

MossStan (2635555) | about 4 months ago | (#46980207)

the phrase 'smart gun' is an oxymoron.

It's called a safety... (3, Insightful)

fallen1 (230220) | about 4 months ago | (#46980213)

That's the only "safe" thing I need on a gun. I know the risks of my gun being taken away from me during a break-in/robbery/assault or anything else that a criminal can perpetrate against me and mine.

The ONLY thing I want to have to deal with or worry about is "Did I flip the safety off?" Most guns are purely mechanical in nature and I see no reason to introduce electronics into making them "safe," do you? Let's add in additional points of failure into what should be a mechanical object that needs to JUST WORK.

This falls under the "Just because we can do a thing, should we do a thing?" category. For fuck's sake, leave guns alone. If you don't like them, feel you don't need them, or just don't understand them then please sit quietly in the corner while those of us that do defend your life, liberty, and pursuit of whatever the hell you want to do.

And remember one thing: Criminals are criminals BECAUSE THEY DON'T FOLLOW THE LAWS ALREADY. One more isn't going to make them change their mind. Removing guns from the hands of (mentally stable) citizen's is absolutely not the answer. It is a path to disarmament, oppression of the people, and a new class of slavery. Read your history.

Folks who don't know nothin' about guns . . . (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 months ago | (#46980215)

. . . shouldn't be messin' around with guns.

Folks who know even less about guns . . . shouldn't be legislating about guns.

If you do want to learn about guns, visit a nearby shooting range. You'll be surprised how friendly these "gun freaks" are, and how polite and patient they are with newcomers. It's just like any other sport. People like to show off, when they know a lot about something, and are good at it.

All these smart guns ideas . . . well, we know where that's coming from, and where it is going . . .

Why not, that's the American way! (1)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#46980421)

We have congressman and senators who couldn't tell a mouse from a bar of soap legislating Net Neutrality. The FBI put Kevin Mitnik into solitary because they were worried he could whistle into a phone and launch nuclear missiles.

Almost *all* of American History is folks who don't know what the F they are talking about deciding what the rest of can do, say, read, or think. Especially when the church is involved. If the Christian Taliban had their way, America would be forced back to the stone-age. Except we'd have plenty of guns... and that's about it.

Everyone (2)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 4 months ago | (#46980277)

>While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved

Um, except for the intruder/burgler. Not that I'm pro-intruder/burgler, but... "everyone involved"?

False choice: Electronic != unreliable (3, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | about 4 months ago | (#46980287)

Sometimes cameras can't autofocus. Cable boxes freeze up when browsing the channel guide.

But fly-by-wire airliners, military radios, targeting systems, medical implants, even Internet backbone routers all have absurdly high reliability stats and are all based on electronics, sensors and firmware.

So don't buy your smart gun from a factory in China producing crap for Comcast or Sony. Buy it from someone who knows how to build high-reliability electronics for the military, like Siemens or ATK.

Would you leave your house unlocked all the time because you might lose the key while you were being chased by a mugger? No, because on the other 30,000 days of your life burglars will come and go as they please. It's the same with a gun, where it is easily stolen or grappled from you before you use it, or worse, found by a child.

Safeties (0)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#46980309)

Guns already have safeties. If the safety breaks in the locked position, the gun won't fire.The question is, can we make smartgun technology more reliable than mechanical devices.

Fools look at software designed for PC's and think no. I look at software built into home electronics and say yes.

The differences are simple: 1) PC's are designed to take any software, not just proprietary. So the OS may not work perfectly with the hardware and may not be tested on it, let alone designed for the hardware.

2) PC's are accessible - you can download things to it, plug USB devices into it, etc. That creates many potential problems - including but not limited to intentional hacking.

3)PC's are designed to do many, many things - they are general purpose devices. So they can never be tested for all possible conditions.

The concept of a smart gun is simple. It runs one program on hardware designed and tested for it with no possibility of changing the software or hardware. It won't be connected to the internet or easy to hack - at least not any easier to hack than it would be to remove the firing pin from a weapon.

Once it is proven to work once, it will work the same way FOREVER.

The only question is what to decide for the default position without any power - fireable or not fireable. If you make it fireable without power than you have to lock the battery into the gun so it can't be removed or disconnected. If you make it not fireable than you can let the battery be easily removable and replaceable.

Re:Safeties (2)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46980523)

Once it is proven to work once, it will work the same way FOREVER.

I have a DTV converter for an old analog TV set. No Internet connection, no way to upload new s/w. About once a month, I turn the TV set on and there's a kernel panic dump on the screen. Unplug, count to ten and plug back in.

Fortunately, this is not a life or death situation unless the Superbowl is on.

Need Smart Gun Owners (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#46980341)

I wonder just how often the "bad guy shoots gun owner with his own gun" situation comes up. That aside, though, part of the motivation for this comes from the all-too-common tales of kids who get at their parents guns and accidentally (or purposefully) shoot someone. To solve this, though, we don't need smart guns, we need smart gun owners. (Disclaimer: I'm not a gun owner*, but I've heard the following from gun owners who seem to be smart about their guns.)

1) Never treat guns as toys. They aren't toys, they are potentially deadly weapons. Just as you shouldn't drive on the wrong side of the highway because "dodging cars is fun," you shouldn't waive a gun around and pretend to shoot people because you're playing around.

2) Treat every gun as if it is loaded. You checked that the gun is unloaded, right? Double-checked? Still act as though the gun is loaded and will fire at whatever you are aiming at.

3) Don't aim a gun at something unless you intend to shoot it. This might seem like it's repeating 1 and 2, but it's important enough to be a point on its own. Don't point the gun at your brother/sister/mother/father/kids/neighbor/etc unless you actually intend to shoot them. (And if you actually intend to shoot a person with a gun, it had BETTER be for a good reason like self defense - not because "they played their stereo too loud.")

4) Keep all guns locked up and unloaded. This will prevent accidental firings because you forgot that the gun was on the coffee table when your neighbor's kid came over and they thought it'd be fun to pretend to shoot you.

5) Teach everyone in the house how to use a gun safely. If someone is too young to be taught (e.g. a toddler), #4 should keep everyone safe until they can be taught.

If you can't follow these steps or don't see them as important (e.g. if you think pointing a gun at someone and pretending to shoot them is too much fun to give up), then perhaps you shouldn't own a gun.

* Part of the reason I'm not a gun owner is because I don't trust myself around them. I'm a notorious klutz and being a klutz around a gun would NOT be a good combination.

Re:Need Smart Gun Owners (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46980471)

6) Teach your kid to leave the area if someone else pulls out a gun and starts playing around with it.

Does anyone do any proofreading here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980343)

While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved[...]

While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on by its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved[...]

The answer is obvious (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 4 months ago | (#46980345)

NANOMACHINES

I need my PISTOL to be more reliable than my PHONE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46980397)

In the gravest extreme, when my life is on the line and I am defending myself against an attack I cannot avoid and cannot retreat from, do I want to be relying on a) electronics, or b) mechanical-chemical systems? I'll take (b) for my continued existence. The mechanical/chemical system of the trigger, sear, striker/hammer, firing pin and fulminate primer is FAR more reliable than any electronic system can be.

Moreover, the chemical/mechanical system is not subject to being disabled by a government who does not want me to have my right of self-defense.

P.S I know there are people on /. who will say I have no right to defend myself against a potential murder (whether by a criminal or by the almighty state), but those people don't have power where I live (thankfully). I carry a pistol (at least one) every day.

"Smart guns" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46980415)

Nothing but a kill switch for the authorities to use. Make everything you own electronic, and a convenient EMP will shut it all down.

An engineer's perspective (5, Informative)

Smerta (1855348) | about 4 months ago | (#46980441)

I was recruited by a company working in this area, to help them fix their electronics & firmware. Seemed like the classic case of a product that started as a prototype by one guy in the company as a side-project or skunkworks, then management saw a bandwagon they should jump on.

The quality of the engineering was horrible. Most of my work is in safety-critical or life-critical applications, and I've seen it all, from poor to excellent, but this was appalling. Needless to say, I ran! (Yes, I see the jokes coming a mile away). But seriously, I was worried about getting sued if somebody got injured, and even worse, I was worried about somebody getting injured or killed by defective electronics or firmware. This isn't the kind of industry I work in anyway, but I thought I'd give it a look out of curiosity, and man was I shocked.

I know this is anecdotal, YMMV, blah blah blah... just thought I'd provide a little "real world" insight based on my (admittedly very limited) experience and exposure.

RFID Not a great idea (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 4 months ago | (#46980473)

Sure nobody can jam a pretty weak signal. Once you have electronics especially with an RF pickup nobody with openly or worse clandestinely require that it safety itself when it see some broadcast. Openly I can see it be something like will not fire within 400 yards of a school think of the children BS. Nobody will figure out what the broadcast is. If you really want this it needs to be open hardware/software so it can be fully vetted, considering some of the silicon level back doors people have come up with I'm not sure that is even possible.

Make the cops use it for a couple decades and work the bugs out they are after all paid to put themselves in harms way.

Remove the firing pin (1)

sporri (70882) | about 4 months ago | (#46980475)

A smart gun that could not be fired outside of a firing range or as a second option at a human would be a much smarter choice. The right to bear arms [kickstarter.com]

Advanced Safety (2)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#46980499)

Instead of calling them "smart guns" we should call it "biometric safety" or something like that. It is a more accurate definition.

A smart gun sounds like one that will somehow be self aiming or stabilizing.

When it's needed the most? (2)

AC-x (735297) | about 4 months ago | (#46980515)

Chief among those worries: the safety mechanism will fail when it's needed most. If you're relying on a weapon for defense, the last thing you want is another avenue for failure

Fail when it's needed most? Isn't the *actual safety mechanism* needed the most when a child has the gun (300 people in the US shot and killed by children under 6), or another family member pulls the trigger on someone in an angry rage, or even themselves (guns kept in a home increase the suicide rate for all family members and 75% of teenage gun suicides are with other's weapons stored in family homes).

How many of these preventable deaths stopped per one person whose smart gun doesn't fire in self defence makes it worthwhile?

You could even say the same thing about keeping a gun unloaded and locked in a safe, what's the point of doing that if your gun isn't going to be under your pillow "when you need it the most" ?

source for gun statistics [smartgunlaws.org]

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