What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Chipped Guns and Smartphone App Edition

Inventor Mark B. Barron's arsenal  (courtesy vice.com)

“Los Angeles-based entrepreneur named Mark B. Barron [above] has created a new app called Lockdown, which he believes could decrease the country’s number of gun-related crimes,” vice.com reports. “The app works with a ‘clip’ containing a GPS chip that a user can attach to his gun. The owner leaves his gun in designated areas and enters a code when he wants to remove his weapon. If someone removes the gun without entering the code, the smart chip sends a notification to the owner’s smartphone. The gun owner can then cancel the alert, or forward it to police, family, neighbors, or anyone else he’s chosen as an emergency contact on the app.” What could possibly go wrong? According to Vice writer Justin Glawe . . .

In an ideal scenario, Barron said, congress would pass a law that would require gun makers to include Lockdown’s technology on weapons—legislation that could possibly piss off gun-rights groups like the National Rifle Association.

Now you’d think a little explanation of the NRA’s potential objection to Barron’s “ideal world” brainstorm would be in order. No such luck. So I’ll take it upon myself to remind readers that the government (or any 8th grader) could use – indeed hack into – any such electronic tagging system to restrict Americans’ natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. In other words, Lockdown is government confiscation made easy.

Even so . . .

As Nick reminds me (again and again) you can’t stop the signal. If well-meaning entrepreneurs want to create and sell RIFD-enable “gun clips” or electronic user-ID-equipped “smart guns,” gopher it! The chances of these devices becoming a commercial success are lower than a snake’s belly. But what do I know? Let the free market decide.

And when – not if – gun control advocates seize on this technology to further their civilian disarmament agenda through legislative mandate, it’s up to We The People to tell them to pound sand.

Or, even better, equip police departments’ rifles with the GPS locators. Check this ABC News/Fusion investigative report into the Pentagon’s increasingly infamous 1033 military -> police equipment load program:

Huntington Beach, California, was given 23 M-16s and one is missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” O’Brien said.

In fact, it’s a huge nationwide problem.

The Pentagon suspended three entire states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — for failure to comply with the annual inventory requirements.

In addition, 146 individual law enforcement agencies in 36 states have been suspended since 2007.

Seven departments have been kicked out forever and ordered to return every weapon passed on to them by the Pentagon because of repeated issues with these military-style weapons.

Let the government get its own house in order before entering mine to tag my guns “for the children.” And not even then. Meanwhile, if Mr. Barron’s looking for an investor for his “Find My Gun” app, I won’t oppose those efforts, but include me out.

comments

  1. avatar TheBear says:

    I would buy a few of these. I think it has a place on heirloom firearms or guns with sentimental value.

    For instance, I’d put one of these on my first hunting rifle I was given at 16 because if it’s ever stolen, I don’t want insurance money for a new rifle, I want /that one/.

    1. avatar Martin says:

      Buy a bunch of these and put them on nerf guns and place them all over town.

      1. avatar Pascal says:

        Why? The alert comes directly to your phone? You want to spam yourself with alerts?

        1. avatar TheBear says:

          Because you could probably track your gun with a gps too.

          That means if it’s stolen you can lead the cops right to your firearm. The technology already exists and is put into practice for bicycles.

  2. avatar Martin says:

    I can tell where my gun is I feel it on my hip.

  3. avatar Rokurota says:

    I have no problem with this technology. It doesn’t lock the gun up, just alerts me if it’s moved. I think we know where the problem lies.

    1. avatar PPGMD says:

      Nor do I have an issue with this technology at all. OTOH I do have a problem with Congress mandating this technology.

      1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

        Yes, too many people designing products with the goal of getting legislation passed. “Let the market decide” only works when the market is relatively free. Actually, that seems to be where most of the issues with free markets originate. Then they pass more legislation to fix the problems caused by older laws, and so forth. Eventually we get a horrible mess. Which the leftists take as evidence that free market economies don’t work.

        1. avatar Pascal says:

          This technology if it really is to work will need every gun owner to have a monthly subscription. I doubt this could ever be mandated. Because for this to work, and to be able to track guns, it will need to hit a cell tower. This would never pass. This would be like requiring everyone to have LoJack or ADT burglar alarms.

        2. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

          “This would be like requiring everyone to have LoJack or ADT burglar alarms.”

          Or health insurance?

          Don’t get me wrong, I hope you are correct.

      2. avatar Mike H in WA says:

        Bingo. I’ve had friends get their guns stolen, so I like the underlying concept. But making it a federal requirement means I can’t remove the tag if I want to. That’s half the appeal to me… if at some future point I want to remove it, I can.

        1. avatar Marcus Aurelius Payne says:

          Copper-lined, faraday holster!

        2. avatar SteveInCO says:

          Fortunately the Faraday holster needn’t be lined with copper, any conductor will do. Aluminum, for instance.

        3. avatar Rick the Bear says:

          Marcus Aurelius Payne & SteveInCO,

          Actually, a mylar potato chip bag will work. I’ve tried putting my cell phone in (a clean) one and it loses the signal.

          And it’s a mylar bag the toll transponders (e.g., EZ Pass) are supposed to be placed in to prevent charges when your car is being towed.

    2. avatar Bear The Grizzly says:

      Exactly! Technology like this could really benefit certain gun owners the same way those little open chamber flags help some people. Personally I never grew up with any of those safety doo dads and yet here I am. The problem exists when gooberment starts messing with the free market. Like any one of those jack wagons knows two pents worth about economics.

  4. avatar Matt in WI says:

    Why does Jason Bateman have his finger on that trigger?

    1. avatar Colt Magnum says:

      Ha! Jason Bateman… beat me to it!

    2. avatar Clem says:

      Finger on the trigger. Beat me to it.

    3. avatar Jus Bill says:

      He reminds me of Larry the Lounge Lizard.

    4. avatar GuyFromV says:

      I was thinking Ewan McGregor.

  5. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    Neat idea!

    I’m not gonna buy any, but the idea is neat.

  6. avatar KingSarc48265 says:

    These things just clip on the gun? So whats to stop any thief from tossing them onto the floor of the safe as they remove the gun?

    How sensitive to movement will these be? Last I checked, the ground in southern California doesn’t exactly stay still.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      If it uses GPS, they would geofence the perimeter of the safe — say a movement of about 5 meters. That is probably as precise as they are going to get because that is as about as how precise a cell phone is today.

      1. avatar Greg in Allston says:

        OK. So you steal the gun and while still within the 5 meter geofence you place the gun in an all metal gun case. Then you slink off to your secret lair where you open it up in the Faraday Cage that you’ve built, remove the gun, remove the chip, destroy the chip and you’re done.

        Take your smartphone, put it in a 30 cal ammo can and lock the lid. Then try calling it from another phone. Did it ring?

        If there isn’t a hack today rest assured that there will be one tomorrow.

        1. avatar Tomyironmane says:

          Depends. If it’s a “dead man’s switch” in the base station with an RFID chip in the firearm/object of interest, it could just go off when the chip/RFID fails to register to the base station. Pop that sucker in a signal impeding bag and you set off the alarm. You risk false positives, of course, but it’s a better system than trying to stick an actual transmitter in a rifle. The system holds promise for all manner of security/vault applications, not just firearms.

          As for peeling RFIDs off, you could stick them in all *kinds* of places and be non-permanent about it. Or be a real bastard and stick one in the bedding compound when you glass bed a rifle. There’s plenty of hidden/difficult to remove spots.

          Good news is if he’s just using RFID chips, you can fry any government mandated ones pretty easy, and if you work at it, make them look like “equipment failure.” Even if they’re embedded in the firearm. Doubtful that this would make any sort of reliable government security measure.

  7. avatar Pascal says:

    I made something like this for myself using Netduino and some code. It works on a magnetic switch and mercury switch. Mine is very simplified. If someone opens the safe door or tilts the safe (which is bolted to the floor) I get an alert that is sent via Wifi over my internet provider to a service that alerts me.

    This app and GPS magazine or whatever, will need a monthly subscription similar to the GPS devices they have for cats and dogs. Given the size of the ones they have on cats and dogs, it would be easy to repurpose that technology. They will make money on the GPS device and the monthly fee which uses cellular technology and just like cats and dogs, some kind of geofencing.

    All these devices, including mine, have flaws in that they may not work due to not being able to get a signal, the battery goes dead, you did not pay your subscription, the power is out (like after a hurricane when the cell towers are down) or a scenario I did not consider, when they were blasting the road to put in sewers nearby and the tremors kept tripping the tilt switch.

    I do not see the harm in selling this. Note, they are far from coming to market on this. This is another “fear for profit” device. this however will not have the sophistication or tamper proof capability of say a LoJack device in a car which have multiple fail-safe features.

    As long as he is not using my money, go ahead, give it a go.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Get a large dog and hook your toy up to an alarm.

      There is WAY too much “technology” in search of a problem (and get rich quick venture capital).

    2. avatar Steve Day says:

      I doubt the hypothetical federal legislation could even force people to replace dead batteries.

      Anything that relies on batteries for security is inherently flawed. Until scientists invent the Zero Point Module, these devices are easily circumvented.

  8. avatar Rick says:

    It notifies you when the chipped firearm is making an unauthorized move?

    Why not notify the PO-leece too?

    From there, it would be a simple matter for the PO-leece to track you and your gun all the time.

    Nah, I don’t see any potential for abuse…

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Rick,
      Who is this “Poe-lee-see” you talk of? Is it someone that would taketh away my armory?

      1. avatar Rick says:

        It’s Southern for “Law Enforcement Officer.”

        And it’s just two syllables.

  9. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    Think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread? Go ahead, release it on the market. No one is stopping you. I just wouldn’t bet your kids’ lunch money on its success.

  10. He’s been careful about his appearances in the media. Marketing pushes will likely come after the next Newtown or Aurora, which, depending on your level of cynicism, is either an unfortunate inevitability or a phenomenon that could be prevented by new gun laws, like the legislation Barron wants passed.

    Nice – this dirt bag is depending on another tragedy to ram rod legislation mandating his bull crap idea. This guy can’t possibly have any idea how things actually work – any GPS receiver won’t work in a safe and will draw a substantial current in order to operate. Unless this “chip” is going be connected to a car battery, it’s ain’t gonna last long.

    Having spent time professionally designing low power wireless devices (with intended life times of years on relatively small batteries like AA and smaller), it’s all a matter of power and how much you use and how often you use it. Goofballs like this have a real misconception over a GPS “chip” – it’s called a GPS receiver – it takes a lot of power and multiple seconds to acquire a fix (if it can get a fix at all which it won’t in a safe and even in many buildings). These guys have seen too many passive RFID chips to understand what’s really happening.

    Perfect example of someone that is itching to dance in the blood of the next tragedy in order to turn a profit. For some reason, I hold dirtballs like this that just want to make money even lower than people like MDA who want control because this guy has no qualms about using a tragedy to make money first and foremost.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      If it works like the GPS Cat and dog devices, you will need a “home base” device installed in your house. It will communicate to the home base first. Once you go outside a defined geofence, then maybe the device will work on its own. This will not be cheap, and there are many ways for this to fail.

      I am thinking something like this
      http://www.amazon.com/Exceptionally-Electronic-Pet-Locator-Suitable/dp/B002ZJ6NVY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1409683268&sr=8-3&keywords=gps+for+cats

      Garmin also makes one

      1. the Amazon device is purely an RF signal strength-based ranger which are very unreliable and inaccurate and impacted by anything and everything between the sender transmitter and receiver which impacts received signal strength together with the unreliability resulting from multipath reflections.

        Any time anything says “GPS”, your BS detector should activate. GPS-enabled devices have battery lives measured in days. The other is that GPS is a receiving technology and not a tracking technology, you receive the signal and triangulate a location. If you want to relay that calculated position to something else to actually track something, that’s another wireless hop and more power and less battery life.

        Any stooge politician or charlatan inventor who wants to add a “GPS chip” to something without understanding how this stuff actually works should be shunned as a fool at best and a scammer at worst.

    2. avatar Mike says:

      “I hold dirtballs like this that just want to make money even lower than people like MDA who want control because this guy has no qualms about using a tragedy to make money first and foremost.”

      If the timeline about the start of MDA that I read was true (group started and grabbed media attention way too fast for a previously unorganized “grassroots” organization after Newtown, I didn’t research it because whether that part is true or not, I believe Head Mad Mommy is a paid shill), there were people waiting on tragedy to strike for profit in that organization as well, and I agree, they are detestable.

      1. You’re 100% right, MDA was something waiting for a tragedy to launch and create a comfortable living for someone like Shannon Watts.

        You’ve convinced me – they’re both equal dirtballs.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Sir Zog,

      The device that the man is describing is pure fiction. Any device that is capable of knowing where it is (based on GPS) and able to send its location (via cellular networks) to an end user will be at least as large as your cell phone and its battery life will be no better. Aside from the mechanical problem of how to securely attach what is basically a cell phone to your firearm, the electrical problems (battery life and GPS reception in buildings, an automobile trunk, or under a forest canopy) are insurmountable.

      In a nutshell the “inventor” is using buzzwords to fleece ignorant investors … unless he really thinks that people want to clamp a cell phone to their firearms and recharge them every two days and not actually recover them when a criminal throws the stolen firearm in a trunk. Regardless, let investors and the free market decide.

      Of course many gun grabbers believe that firearms have magical properties. Why couldn’t they have a magical property whereby a tiny “chip” runs for years on a watch battery and can transmit via cosmic rays through buildings and car trunks?

  11. First step towards guns of the patriots.

  12. avatar Gregolas says:

    Do I get this right? Your “business plan” Mr. Barron, is get the government to mandate (force) gun makers to attach these doohickeys to their product so everyone is forced to buy them? Why? Because the free market would never go for it? If it’s such a boon to society, why don’t you just donate the patent to the Feds, like John Garand did?

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Seems to be working out for Bill Gates and Commoncore. Right out of the organized crime fascist playbook.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Common Core is starting to develop a strong push-back.

        Buyer’s Remorse on Common Core for Policymakers?

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/08/30/buyers_remorse_on_common_core_for_policymakers_123817.html

  13. Great. Yet another person telling ME how gun safety should work that can’t even follow the four rules of gun safety. Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, jack-hole.

  14. avatar Dev says:

    People can’t even figure out how to disable automatic backup of pictures to Apple’s iCloud and therefore they were vulnerable to a hacker, the FBI is looking into it and STILL anti – firearms people think thus sort of technology will work?

    1. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      But it has an App.

  15. avatar Chis in KY says:

    I found the article to be amusing and informative. This might be a useful Tech for some really high priced collector guns that one may wish not to be stolen, either by thieves or by friends/family you just don’t trust. It also would be great for stores with expensive inventory. All these seem like good ideas.

    The mandate is complete horse crap, and if Barron does not understand why the NRA or anyone else would oppose putting a privately owned technology in all firearms so they could be tracked at all times, then he is truly delusional. I wonder how he would like it if it was mandated that he incorporate a Hello Kitty game into his devices, for the children.

    But then i completely laughed out loud when it transitioned from an article about GPS chips to a commentary about Police Militarization.

    1. This technology doesn’t prevent anything from being stolen – if it works at all (unlikely over any sort of long term), at best it tells you that something got moved (could be stolen).

      Like the cops arriving at a crime scene, you know something happened and can start the paperwork but it certainly didn’t prevent it from happening.

  16. avatar Btdsf2013 says:

    No worries. Democrats will sell this as “if you like your current gun, you can keep your gun”. Until you can’t, just like with healthcare

  17. avatar Shwiggie says:

    “In an ideal scenario, Barron said, congress would pass a law that would require gun makers to include Lockdown’s technology on weapons…”

    In other words, he aims to capitalize on the infringement of our single most basic of civil liberties. In the words of another, “I hope he fails.”

  18. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

    How about this sensor for my gun locker/safe? I would love to get an alert any time the locker is opened. I would also love a notification if it’s been tipped over.

    1. avatar KC in NorCal says:

      I have no experience with this but hear it covered on Guntalk a few times. Alerts you to motion of the safe as well as rise in humidity or even heat thet could signal a fire. Could be useful.
      http://www.deansafe.com/gun-safe-alarm.html

  19. avatar Anonymous says:

    I like this tech. I would use it on much more than guns.

    I didn’t like this part:

    In an ideal scenario, Barron said, congress would pass a law…

    Ideally – no. I can take care of my own stuff. The gov doesn’t need to take care of my stuff for me.

    In other words, Lockdown is government confiscation made easy.

    Agreed. who needs to register? They are already registered before you buy them.

    Also… criminals. Again, they are not going to like these included in the weapons they just stole from neighbor joe – so I expect they would dismantle the gun and remove them. Note to statist liberals – guns are very simple machines. It is easy to pinpoint something that doesn’t belong and just as easy to remove and discard.

  20. avatar Mark says:

    This guys is a piece of work. How much do you wanna bet he created his one Wikipedia pages?

    http://www.markbbarron.com/index.html

  21. avatar Robert Inguaggiato says:

    That’s a great idea that way all legal owners can go spend money on chips that the thief will remove and then you have a worthless chip. Yup another great idea. Oh and let’s not forget that now the gun is still missing. Dam almost forgot still have to pay for APP CHIP , CHIP PROGRAMING AND REGESTRATION AND OH DARN STILL DONT KNOW WHERE THE GUN IS.

  22. avatar pyratemime says:

    Since this twit is looking for (forward to?) the next Aurora or Newtown to push for his device I am curious how he thinks this would have helped in either case. In Aurora it was the legal owner of the guns who did the killing. So his device would have sent an email to the killer on his way to the theater and he would have seen the message and ignored it. With Newtown killing the warning would have gone to the mother A. shortly before she was killed or B. after she was dead. How does sending a notice that the firearms have been moved do any good when the message is going to the culprit or the first corpse?

  23. avatar Jus Bill says:

    My primary thoughts about this scheme:

    Upside – I can track the location of the GPS device (via EIN most likely) any time.
    Downside – Anybody can track the location of the GPS device (via EIN most likely) any time.

    Pass…

  24. avatar Mike says:

    They gonna mandate cell phones for all now too?

    1. avatar The Trouble with Timbo says:

      Well, not if you have a job and can pay for them yourself…

  25. avatar Alpo says:

    An idea brought to us by the same mentality that equates the police showing up after a crime to investigate with police protection/crime prevention.

    *IF* you’re concerned about your guns walking, you need to first look into a better means of keeping the theives/idiot family members out of your stash, not some gimmick that tells you when it’s already too late.

    I won’t even bother going into all the ways that, even if this was an actual solution to something, it still sucks, just on the merits.

    http://jeffpelline.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/1320397225_no_thanks_gag.jpg

  26. avatar former water walker says:

    What could possibly go wrong with this? And let’s get congress to mandate it. If you have millions in guns you don’t need this guy. But do it for the children anyway…

  27. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    I’m sure this will be a super secure system! Just like those nude celebrity photos on the icloud that were released yesterday!

  28. avatar Reggie says:

    Aside from the bafoonery of legislating such a thing…….

    This actually is a good idea. This is a situation where tech is adding a feature and not interfering with the firearm’s operation (ala the kill switch type ‘smart gun’). I put something like this in the same category as a ‘find my phone’ feature on a smartphone (and no the gubment shouldn’t be legislating that either). If I want to use I can, if I don’t I don’t. In either case I can carry on my merry way unimpeded.

  29. avatar Scrubula says:

    GPS? No. However, a bluetooth system (short distance radio) that can reach your smartphone next to your bed or in your pocket while at home would be useful to train your kids to never touch a home defense firearm unless it’s an emergency.

    So yeah, this might be useful but a gps system would be way too easy for a rogue government or hacking group to exploit.

  30. avatar CarlosT says:

    I think I might go into business making cheap plastic coasters. In an ideal scenario, Congress would pass a law that would furniture makers to include my coasters with tables. Because, you know, that would be awesome for me.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Grease the right palm, it could easily happen…

  31. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Well, after reading the technical aspects of the comments, this looks like something that will require badly needed common sense legislation.

  32. avatar The Trouble with Timbo says:

    I bet it would be easy to place these chips in fun places. Like under the seat of a 737. Or a semi-tractor trailer. Or maybe my ex-wife’s fat ass. Let them go in there to find something.

  33. avatar Lt Cmdr G. M. Roland says:

    Get your “Booger Hook” off the “Giggle switch”. Jesus you are as stupid as Diane Feinstien and her looking at Thousands of Photographs makes her a Weapons Expert.

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