“We’re not talking about electronics that launch men up to the space station or Mars or even in an everyday airplane with a few hundred people on board. We’re talking about ruggedizing and miniaturizing electronics, but not under as rigorous conditions as we see in other markets. This technology is not new.” – Smart Tech Challenges Foundation president Margot Hirsch in Efforts to restart smart-gun innovation could misfire again [via computerworld.com]

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91 Responses to Blue Force Gear Quote of the Day: ‘Smart Gun’ Technology Isn’t Rocket Science

  1. I still want my guns to have a higher success rate than NASA. If astronauts blow up, that’s too bad, if my “smart gun” malfunctions when I need it, that’s really going to upset me.

    • Question: Could a government bent of civilian disarmament hack a “smart” firearm and thereby render it inoperative? Already we see that new technology-dependent vehicles are susceptible to hackers. Aside from this concern, I see smart technology as just one more thing that can malfunction in a self defense situation. No thanks.

      • Depends on what the mechanism is for the “smart gun.” Jamming is a real possibility with the Armatrix “wrist watch style” of activation. If you can disrupt the signal enough, the watch and gun just won’t communicate. Look at some of the emerging anti drone technology to see what I’m talking about.

        • Probably the same sensor tech as a chip key in a car. Solid tech, but with rules and batteries.

          Funny tho, that many of the same folks whose hair is on fire about smart guns freak out over a glock’s lack of an external safety. Seems the grey area between sides is wider than it appears.

        • They wouldn’t even need to hack it.
          Technology like this shortens the lifespan of a weapon by requiring a gunsmith to re-key the weapon for new users. So even if the battery limits and technology don’t fail, passing a functional weapon on to future users may become impossible without a software key.

          I’ll give everyone a moment to guess who wants to be left in charge of the key…

        • “Funny tho, that many of the same folks whose hair is on fire about smart guns freak out over a glock’s lack of an external safety.”

          Apples and Oranges. Glock triggers require zero electronics, batteries, etc. ‘Smart’ needs all that and more…

  2. I don’t expect ever to be interested in buying an sort of smart gun. On the other hand, a semi-intelligent holster might be attractive.

    • The only smart technology I’d be interested in with a gun would be an integral rounds counter. It sounds dumb, but in the long run you could enhance reliability in high rounds count guns by having a proactive maintenance schedule (think change your oil every 3K miles.)

      I believe that there are certain militaries out there that are considering the idea of this as well. They have a pretty neat promo video here.

      http://accucounter.com/

      • That would also be nice to have when your buddy is trying to sell you his gun that “only” has “like 200 rounds bro” through it.

        • I have a friend who can pick the usage of a rifle by looking down the barrel. At most he’s about 200 rounds out, which is a pretty good margin for error with a high usage rifle.

  3. Let them sink time and resources into developing smart guns. That’s the beauty of capitalism: barring government fiat the market will tell them EXACTLY what they think of the product….

    • That’s the rub. If there was a market for this type of firearm, it would be successful. The anti gunners don’t understand capitalism and their ideas are so wonderful, everyone needs to be forced into compliance. Add that to the long term anti gun goals with smart gun tech (see NJ) and it makes a possible niche market a non starter with most gun owners

      • In order to assure that their cronies don’t take a loss on their research, I would support a law that everyone in America has to buy at least one, unless he already has a gun. Call it an “Obamagun”

    • And if someone gets it really right, there might well be a huge market, specifically for police departments that carry openly and where an attacker taking a cop’s gun is a real risk.

  4. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the existence of smart gun technology, provided it is both safe and reliable. I don’t think I’d ever buy one myself, but more options in the market is a good thing.

    I have a HUGE problem with politicians trying to mandate a technology to all buyers.

    • “I have a HUGE problem with politicians trying to mandate a technology to all buyers.”

      It sounds good on the surface, but…

      Seatbelts, airbags, and those eye-level brake lights on cars have *proven* to save lives.

      Tens of thousands, if not *hundreds* of thousands of them.

      *Sometimes* government mandates can be for the common good, but not always.

      (pg2 will hate on me, but government mandates on vaccines have saved millions of lives…)

  5. But the chance for loss of life is still real.

    ANY mechanical device can fail. Glocks are popular because they’re simple, and because they’re simple they work. 100 years ago, people scoffed at automatic pistols because they were not as reliable as revolvers.

    Autos are more reliable, in general, today for a variety of reasons, but some people still would rather rely on a revolver than an auto, and they should have that right. Autos have their advantages and disadvantages, revolvers have theirs.

    “Smart” guns have advantages and disadvantages and the individual user needs to decide what’s important to them.

    But the situations where one would use a gun in self defense are few, perilous, frightening, and uncertain, and many people who have all of the available information would not choose to add unnecessary complications or uncertainty into the equation where the answer may or may not result in the death of themselves or loved ones.

    • But for cops who routinely engage in psychical struggles with suspects they can be a good idea. Kind of like a level 4 holster.

      • Didja see what spellcheck did to you? I’m not certain cops are properly trained (or equipped!) for psychic struggles.

      • Cops wear gloves and tend to have dirty/bloody hands when engaged in psychical struggles. Any cop can tell you that computers, cars, radios, flashlights, and systems for that mater all fail when you need them to work. I dont care who you are but when you need a gun, then you need it to be unquestionably reliable……. heres something i just remebered; if a smart gun fails, the manufacturers arent protected under the comerce in arms act. Ironic, no?

    • “100 years ago, people scoffed at automatic pistols because they were not as reliable as revolvers.”

      The 1990’s was not 100 years ago. 😉

      • My relatives switched to semi-autos back in the early 1900s, b4ecause they worked and featured more rounds in less time.

        I’ve viewed revolvers as a ‘novelty’ since the ’70s when I started buying guns.

        YMMV.

  6. Let’s give smart gun tech a trial at the federal level for 10 years before it hits the citizens market. FBI, SS, ATF etc. Starting tomorrow arm them exclusively with smart guns.

    • That’s a pretty terrific idea. I’m going to suggest we add Hollywood celebrity bodyguards to the list of first adopters as well.

      • I would add the armed security force at the Sidwell Friends school in D.C. to the smart gun experimental group.

        If smart guns are “for the children”, then let’s start with using them to protect the special little snowflakes of the rich and powerful of the Washington elite.

    • The agencies will quietly disable the tech because it doesn’t work and in the end say they never had a problem with a gun to functioning.

      “We never experienced a malfunction due to the incorporation of this technology” is a statement with multiple meanings.

  7. I always assume that they mean it to have some sort of off switch that the government can activate if it wants to and gps to track you

    But I’m fairly untrusting of good intentions

    • I’m sympathetic, but only to a degree. NJ needs to clean it’s own house. Failing that, it’s freedom loving citizens can and should vote with their feet.

      Bad politics in one state shouldn’t limit freedom of commerce in all others.

        • I doubt it.
          California has added micro-stamping and planning to add “smart-guns” to the list of requirements for a pistol to be accepted on the “Roster of Safe Handguns” which lists the only guns civilians can buy in California (LEOs are exempt cuz feelz).
          And no one has successfully used the commerce clause to nullify that law and the Roster has been around for at least a decade.

      • When the lunatics outnumber the good people, why wouldn’t you try to support them without having to fire a shot? I know you would never fire one in support of them.

    • Yeah, to hell with New Jersey and their smart gun law. First, they did it to themselves, and they can undo it for themselves. Why do we clutch our pearls and weep and wail about New Jersey, when far, far, far, far worse things are happening in other states (like California’s background check for ammo buyers, and other things).

      If New Jersey’s ban gets triggered, that will inconvenience what, about six concealed carriers? Big whoop.

      New Jersey gotta clean New Jersey’s own house.

  8. Samsung, a company that is one of the leaders in smartphone and other technology, just released a phone this year that was an update to an earlier model. That new phone had such a serious design flaw that the company recalled it completely so more of them wouldn’t catch fire.

    So if a company with proven technology and a proven track record can make such a major mistake why do isiots like the person quoted think that this so-called “smart gun” technology is going to work consistently???

    • Excellent Point.

      And, not only did they recall the product, but it is really slamming the company’s bottom line. One mistake.

      Interestingly, we were talking about something similar this morning. The big push-back against the Florida 2000 election fiasco was the cry for “Electronic Voting Machines…no more CHADS!”

      But those crying for electronic voting machines (or more importantly, those LISTENING to the cries – I think those doing the crying knew exactly what they were doing) failed to consider the deep, much more hidden, level of voter corruption possible with electronic machines.

      It is just mind boggling to me, personally, that the “answer” to a recount problem in Florida was to push for a system where no recount is possible.

      Electronics and computers are wonderful technologies, but they don’t have to be used for EVERY thing under the sun.

      Sometimes, simpler is better. Paper ballots and simple mechanical systems in firearms are but two examples.

      • State issued ID required, and the left pinky dipped in Indian Ink before you vote.

        Edit: I’d be happy with just the Indian Ink.

  9. “not too vigorous of use” my ass. Consider that Lucky Gunner did something on AR-15 ammo and the American Eagle went through 10K rounds and the gun was still accurate and not one malfunction. How easy is it to have a success system of that rate? Apple doesn’t have it with their unlock.

  10. Ooh, RFIDs controlling a gun. Color me thoroughly unimpressed, but at least it’s been completely done several times now. Can we finally abandon this stupid idea once and for all?

    RFIDs are less secure than physical keys fer chrissake. Anyone mildly tech savvy can clone that ring with cheap off-the-shelf tech from feet away. Then, take your gun which you’ll not fight over since you operate under the delusion that it can only be fired by you. More importantly, someone who is mildly tech savvy can jam your RFID reader in your gun from far away, and you’ll be holding a useless prop when you think you can defend yourself.

    Oh well, most people are so science and tech ignorant they believe Musk when he talks about his ‘hyperloop’ crap, even though the rest of us know there’s about 20 fundamental engineering nightmares that will stop it from ever being built.

    • Whether it’s easy to clone or not depends greatly on the details of the communication between the Smart Gun and its token. A challenge-response protocol using good cryptographic practices could be made quite secure. A naïve “broadcast-in-clear” protocol would be a disaster.

      The jamming problem, however, is inherent in the nature of RFID.

        • Yes, really. The ring/gun combination has the advantage of range and spectrum, but it is severely limited by size and stamina. An attacker can feasibly build a jammer into anything man-portable or even vehicle-borne, and it only has to broadcast for a few minutes to accomplish its purposes. The gun needs to operate for months on a battery that fits into the grip.

    • Yes because the average criminal is going to accomplish all that on the street. If it was so easy, car theft would be rampant. As it is now, most thieves try to find the keys. They will break into you house and look for them. Or car jack you.

      • I am really scared of carjacking! I have a white interior which will get just so *messy* when a jacker turns his attention toward putting the car in gear, how will I ever get it clean again?

      • Binder, Here’s another one you won’t believe – self driving cars are already here, and will be everywhere in 5-8 years. I’ve been telling people this since the early 80s when Benz started working on it – as soon as computing got cheap and powerful, self-driving was guaranteed to happen. It did, and here we are. It’ll slowly become a mandate over the next decade or so. Just watch, and remember that you read it in 2016 (2012 or so if you read TTAC). But I digress….

        Criminals went cyber in a big way about oh, 20 years ago. Yes, taking a car (or control thereof) is rather easy peasy if you have the skill-set, which means that it’ll be an off-the-Adafruit-shelf piece in the next 5 years. Yup, even Tyrone gonna finna be gots one. He doesn’t have to know how it works, just how to operate it to make your OnStar unlock your car and shut off the GPS.

        Brave new world, and all that.

  11. OK, when this guy trusts his technology to stick the loaded shotgun under his chin and pull the trigger with the ring off, then he’s allowed to call it “extremely safe”. Until then, it’s another point of failure in a mechanical device that I may need to save the lives of my children. No thanks, iGun.

  12. Actually, you are talking about rocket science. You’re talking about trying to find technology that will fit in the palm of your hand and positively 100% identify someone in all light conditions, all physiological stress levels, all physical orientations, all battery levels, and despite the presence of blood or other confounding elements, and do all that every single time in less than a fifth of a second.

    It’s actually VERY difficult to pull off.

      • So, you’ve NEVER heard of a key failure on a car? Nonsense.

        Also, how many car key failures are under the conditions of physiological and environmental stress the OP described?

        Furthermore, risk has two components: odds of event and consequence.

        So, what are the consequences of a car key failure? “Honey, I can’t get into my car? Can you come get me?” in most instances. It’s an inconvenience.

        Failure of a “Smart Gun,” on the other hand, can have dire consequences. Death. Either from you not being able to defend yourself due to tech failure, or it failing to stop the bad guy from killing you.

        There are some very smart people giving some very smart reasons to be wary of this application of ‘technology’ and you just want to dismiss those points for tech fanboi reasons.

      • A car key is mechanical, what follows turning the key to start a car is not. If you want a gun to be as reliable as starting a car, which when fails to start, the worst problem you face is being late somewhere, then you can have an electronically enabled gun. For the rest of us we want the gun to not have extra complexity which add points of failure. Many people don’t even want a mechanical safety since it is another point of failure when someone forgets to disengage in in time and you want a piece of electronics that are repeatedly subjected to the shock of recoil, rely on batteries and are potentially influenced by factors like sweat, blood, heat, cold, etc.

      • Has anyone pointed out to you yet that ignition keys have a shockingly poor track record at preventing car thefts?

      • It apparent you don’t drive a Land Rover.
        My keys have failed to start the car on numerous occasions, as the key simply won’t turn.
        The best is when none of the doors outside the Driver side door could be opened, even from the INSIDE, because the superlock froze is a locked state and wouldn’t unlock.
        Imagine four people aged 50+ having to crawl out the drivers door.
        Literally, my key in my Discovery has failed more times than any of my firearms.

  13. A couple weeks ago I tried to wake my laptop out of hibernation. It immediately, without consent started loading updates and continued to restart several times. It took an hour and a half before I could use it. So for the time being I think I’ll pass on making my defensive handgun ‘smart’. At the very least, please keep Microsoft the hell away from my guns.

      • And a lock is not electronic, but when it is, there is always a mechanical lock to back it up, in case the electronics fail. Opening locks is not something that is time sensitive, so if it takes a couple of attempts, you will not have the door taken away or get killed.
        Then there are always scenes in movies of people fumbling furiously with their keys to get into a door to escape someone, is that how you see ideal gun access?

      • Anything that works off RFID will either be easily hacked or will have to have security software that will constantly need to be updated.

  14. Mark my words. This is just another liberal twisted plot to get around the PLCAA. They want to sue manufacturers when their products work perfectly simply because a criminal uses them. In the near future, when one of these smart guns fails to work as intended, they will be all over the manufacturer for a defective product.

    • Of course it is. It’s not even all that well hidden that that’s what it is. Look who’s really pushing for it, for example.

      One good way to summarize the political divide in our country is to look at “centralization” vs “localization.” The Left is ALL about centralization, which by implication means de-localization.

      Therefore, in general, any solution that involves removing ‘local’ (or, in this case, individual) control / responsibility for some action is a pet of the Left.

      Smart Gun tech is by its very premise designed to offload responsibility for ‘gun safety’ from the individual (local) owner and to the tech designer/manufacturer.

      Once that happens, the .gov or oligarchy or whatever centralized control “authority” happens to be in vogue at the time can step in and control the tech.

      It’s like computer admin. If you had 300 computers in your network, would you want to have to use the old sneaker-net to roll out every minor update? No. In that use-case, you centralize on a server…roll out the update to the server, then it distributes to “the network” as an abstract entity.

      Smart Gun tech alleviates the controlling authorities from having to do something like ‘door-to-door search’ or ‘door-to-door confiscation.’ The very existence of the technology centralizes control for them, even if it is years later they seize and utilize that control.

      Or, did the .gov NOT try to bully Apple into providing intrinsic backdoors for investigators?

  15. Of course it’s not rocket science, but tell that to dead astronauts. He gets a big paycheck when government mandates and I’ll lay odds the industry gets a carve out stating no liability if it fails to work when its need it suppose to.

  16. Why would I want something that has a “feature” that specifically prevents it from working when I want it to?

    • Ooo, that’s another excellent point.

      Reminds me of all the money dumped into solar and similar ‘green energy’ “research” in the last 10 years.

  17. Time how quickly you can pull out your gun and pull the trigger, then time how quickly you can pull out your iPhone and use the fingerpring app to unlock it.

  18. I will get mine after the military and police departments make it standard issue for them.

    How do you know if the battery is dead?

  19. If men had smart “guns” divorce lawyers would be put out of business….

    Whats the topic again? Weapons? Oh, never mind. .Mil mode off.

  20. if its so awesome why doesnt the us army & all fed agencies use them?

    they should make it so that a commanding officer or senior NCO has to turn on a soldiers weapon before they roll out.

    boom i just lowered in theater soldier suicides. give my monies now.

  21. This is a classic case of a product looking for a market, not the market looking for a product.

    Barring any governmental mandate, the market will decide the product’s fate.

  22. I think the big issue with these will be the product liability. The have to develop a system that is very reliable but more so one that the product libilty lawyers will accept.

    Imagine, person buys fancy digigun, leaves on night stand all the time believing that it can’t be fired by anyone but them, little timmy picks it up, and discharges gun, killing himself. Massive lawsuit. Little company crushed into oblivion, and “smrt” guns discredited.

    The price of failure for the company is super high, maybe to high for the risk to bring it to market, or bring it to market without all kinds of dsclaimers that would cast great doubt on the product’s function.

  23. So, I have to wear a ring all day, everyday just to have ready access to an iGun firearm…

    My wife cannot get me wear to my wedding ring half the time and she gives me BJ’s… so what’s iGun offering?

    • “My wife cannot get me wear to my wedding ring half the time and she gives me BJ’s… so what’s iGun offering?”

      The potential for an instant divorce?

      *snicker*

    • Madonna can’t get me to vote for Hillary and she says she wants to give me a BJ…

      BTW, doesn’t that violate laws against both prostitution and vote buying?
      Madonna and Katy Perry should start their own PAC and call it whores for Hillary…

  24. >>We’re talking about ruggedizing and miniaturizing electronics

    Typical for corporate executive, she managed to utter exactly one correct statement, tripping on second. Ruggedizing electronics (i.e. PCBs, mounted components, batteries, connectors, etc.) is an old trade, probably older than Hirsch herself. “Smart guns” are plagued with immaturity of concept, not lack of technique for jamming tiny PCB into some spare space.

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