Yesterday we received word that Freedom Group, owner of such brands as Remington and Bushmaster, is the target of an unsolicited buyout offer from a company called Global Digital Solutions. The presser from the company was a cornucopia of buzzwords and marketing-speak, talking about “cyber” this and “convergence” that. But it didn’t really make sense — until a reader uncovered a press release from January in which the company announced their plans to put their digital genius to work making “smart guns.” And by “smart” we mean RFID-enabled, registered, trackable firearms.
From the press release:
Global Digital Solutions, Inc. (GDSI), a company that is positioning itself as a leader in providing cyber arms manufacturing, complementary security and technology solutions and knowledge-
based, cyber- related, culturally attuned social consulting in unsettled areas, today announced GDSI Gatekeeper, a revolutionary suite of technology- enhanced services that offer personalized, digital small arms safety and security solutions in commercial and military- related markets.
GDSI Gatekeeper, which combines advanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology with web-
based wireless capabilities, will provide commercial and military customers with three essential safety and security benefits:
• Encrypted, password-
protected, digital, trigger- locking capability;
• Secure, real-
time online tracking; and
• Encrypted, cloud-
“We’re extremely excited about the potential for GDSI Gatekeeper,” said GDSI’s President and CEO Richard J. Sullivan. “This revolutionary suite of services represents a real breakthrough by leveraging the power of web-
based, digital technology to enhance safety and security in the small arms arena, both in the commercial and military sectors. We think of it as personalized gun control and we believe the accessible worldwide market represents a multibillion dollar opportunity for GDSI.”
Smart guns are something we’ve discussed at great length here on the blog, and the general consensus is that the technology is nowhere near ready for prime time. And even if it were, the “enhancements” being offered would be things that would make guns less appealing to the average gun owner.
Having each gun linked to its owner? Only being able to pull the trigger if it’s registered to you? Real-time GPS tracking of your gun? Pistols that run on (and run down on) batteries? Is GDSI aware of the Chiappa RFID kerfuffle? Yeah, none of that really sounds appealing to people who have spent the last year fighting tooth and nail against limits on their right to keep and bear arms.
So, there are two possibilities here.
Option #1: we’re about to see Remington EtronX redux. For those not familiar, Remington introduced their EtronX firing system in 2002 that used a 100% electronically fired ammunition. And no one ever bought any. The line did so incredibly poorly that they canned the entire project before I could even find one of the rifles on a gun store shef. If GDSI’s aim is indeed an honest attempt to make a “smart gun” that shooters would want to buy, I expect them to be very disappointed in the outcome very quickly. Sort of like the backlash Smith & Wesson felt when they added locks on their guns, only a complete boycott instead of just a general avoidance of those models. Assuming the best case scenario, the companies under the Freedom Group banner will be closing shop in under a decade. Worst case scenario, they go out in about a year.
Option #2: GDSI is just a front for one of the multi-millionaire gun control advocates who plans to undermine the gun industry from the inside. By owning some of the most popular firearms manufacturers they can make guns that push their personal agenda instead of actually moving quality products. Cranking out “smart guns” – no matter how few are sold – to allow politicians to point to them as examples and legislate away “dumb” guns. That’s one of the stated goal of GDSI after all, “Consolidation of [the] American Gun Industry.” Creation of a monopoly. And I couldn’t think of a better way to try to kill the gun industry than to simply buy it and crash it into the ground.
The good news is that even under the worst case scenario, all we lose are the companies currently under Freedom Group’s control. The firearms manufacturing industry has exploded over the last few years, and the demand for guns has led to a large number of widely dispersed producers from the big boys down to mom-and-pop shops putting out their shingle and producing quality guns. Even if Remington and Bushmaster disappear, there are enough independent shops left that the supply of firearms won’t slow down anytime soon.
And hey, there’s always the possibility that the “smart gun” they eventually produce might be OK. Hope springs eternal and all . . .