smart gun
Douglas Weiss, who works on the "smart gun" project at Sandia National Laboratories, holds a "smart gun" prototype and a computer chip in his Albuquerque, N.M., office Friday, March 31, 1995. The gun uses technology that recognizes the gun's owner and prevents anyone else from firing the weapon. (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)
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By Elizabeth McGuigan

A newly released survey shows gun owners aren’t opposed to the idea of authorized user technology in firearms. But only 5 percent would be very likely to purchase one themselves due to their concerns about reliability and cost. About 70 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about the reliability of the so-called “smart guns.”

Does this sound familiar? It should.

In 2013, NSSF hired a noted polling firm, McKeon and Associates, to field a national survey on authorized user technology to see what the general adult population knew about the technology, and what sort of demand may be seen in the marketplace for these still-hypothetical guns.

The results showed that only 14 percent were very or somewhat likely to purchase a “smart gun.” When told that such firearms would incorporate biometric or radio frequency identification (RFID) with an activation system that would rely on battery power, 74 percent of respondents said that these firearms would not be reliable at all or very reliable. Only 16 percent thought “smart guns” would be very or somewhat reliable. Some 10 percent responded “don’t know.”

Gun owners overwhelmingly (84%) believed a smart gun would not be reliable, while a clear majority (60%) of non-gun owners also believed they would not be reliable.

Unrealistic Expectations

Of course the new report on survey, run out of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, makes no effort to hide the authors’ gun control agenda. They even include a note that smart guns are “of concern” because their advent may encourage non-gun owners to purchase firearms for the first time.

Gun control advocates such as the Violence Policy Center have made this argument against authorized user technology in the past. The limitations discussion also admits that the price points asked about in the survey are “substantially lower than the current expected cost,” which “is likely to lead to the sample overestimating the desirability of personalized guns among current gun owners.”

That issue, combined with the fact that an online survey tends to be answered by more technologically savvy individuals than a broader phone survey, means the 5 percent of gun owners “very likely” to purchase a smart gun overstates actual consumer demand for this sort of product should it ever actually come to market.

Industry’s Response

Gun makers are keenly aware of the market for their products, as any manufacturer must be in order to remain in business. In a recent shareholder report, Ruger stated,

Like many successful manufacturers of consumer products, our understanding and recognition of what consumers want has been critical to our growth. Over the years, we have interacted with and canvassed firearms consumers to learn what is important to them when selecting a firearm. This “voice of the customer” feedback has enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of consumer demand and the market generally. One thing we know for certain is that consumers demand reliable and durable firearms. We also know from experience that firearms are price sensitive and that a firearm that sells well at a particular price point may not sell at all for $100 more…There is very little interest in UAFs [smart guns] among firearms consumers…

Another manufacturer, American Outdoor Brands Corporation, addressed consumer demand in a February 2019 shareholder report. According to the report, the company, “does not believe that current authorized user or ‘smart gun’ technology is reliable, commercially viable, or has any significant consumer demand.”

smart gun armatix
Courtesy Armatix

Law Enforcement Standards

We know other surveys have been released in between the 2013 NSSF survey and the newly published poll. In 2016, a different survey out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was briefly covered in a journal editorial.

The limited results that were discussed in the opinion piece suggested a vast market for authorized user technology, and attempted to take issue with the design of the NSSF survey. One gun control group even co-hosted a “Smart Gun Symposium in Seattle, Washington in 2015. Even during this carefully choreographed event, Sheriff John Urquhart of Washington’s King County said that smart gun technology “is not ready for [his] officers yet. If it worked 110 percent of the time, [he’d] be interested.”

Law enforcement has a longstanding and understandable reluctance to adopt firearms so equipped that that may prevent officers from being able to discharge a firearm under duress or adverse conditions.

The Fraternal Order of Police agrees that technology is unproven and unreliable: “Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.” Even former president Obama’s Department of Justice couldn’t find a smart gun that met basic criteria for safe operation and instead released guidance on what factors such a firearm would have to meet.

Real Solutions

As our own research showed, the skepticism extends beyond law enforcement to the larger gun owning community. Gun owners already store their firearms to prevent their access by those who should not have them. They follow safe handling and storage practices which are set forth in the owner’s manual provided with each firearm. They don’t see a panacea in smart gun technology, nor should proponents or policy makers.

There are highly reliable ways to prevent unauthorized access to firearms ranging from locks provided by manufacturers with new firearms purchases and cable-style gun locks by NSSF through Project ChildSafe® to various types of lock boxes, secure cabinets and safes. And, retailers are required by law to provide a locking device when they transfer a handgun and to make locking devices available for their customers to purchase.

Neither the industry nor NSSF have ever opposed the research and development of authorized-user recognition technology being applied to firearms. If an individual decides that an authorized user technology equipped firearm is the right choice for them, they should be free to purchase it. If “smart guns” do enter the marketplace, it should be consumer choice, not government mandates that drives their acceptance.


This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Ehhh…smart guns are DUMB. EMP? OOPS! Battery die? Yer f####d. Glitch? Oh well. Gubmint jams yer signal? SOL. When nothing runs my guns WILL.

      • Will never buy one, will never want one, will never encourage one, will never “atta boy” anyone who shows me they bought one, will never touch one.

        Just wait until someone down the road is awakened in middle of the night by a trio of armed burglars entering his home, reaches for his ‘smart gun’ out of habit where his classic gun used to be, and the thing doesn’t ‘turn on’ for him.

    • The issue is not merely the tech, each iteration of which will have failures and all of which will probably all be hacked within a year or two of rollout.
      The main issue is NJ and the gun control lobby already proved what the gun control advocates denied — that they will march in laws requiring this bad in all new guns.

      “Oh no it won’t be mandatory…”
      “…let’s make it manditory”

  2. On-duty law enforcement, secret-squirrel alphabet soup agency, and military use are the only applications our government(s) can force use of “smart guns”. Forcing such use on the citizens is plainly unconstitutional.

    • Well as long as we have the Constitution on our side we’ll be just fi…. oh, wait, strike that.

  3. We need to stop letting these “law makers” define the terms. Stop calling these firearms “personalized” or “smart” guns . That is literal BS lawyer speak and it SHOULD NOT even be a legal term, much like “assault weapon” or “high-capacity magazine”.

    This sort of language and doublespeak needs to stop. This is real pervasive obscuration of common language terms and it should not be allowed, especially in something like law that the common man, supposedly, must adhere by. (This sort of stuff shouldn’t just pertain to firearms laws but any type of law).

      • “Or “GIMP” for short 😁”

        “Bring out the Gimp”.

  4. I don’t care if they are available for sale.

    I *DO* care if someone forces me to buy one…

    • Yes, much like higher taxes. There are lots of wealthy people who think they should pay more taxes. But they’re being coy, because they don’t have to wait for Congress to raise the tax rate to pay more. The Treasury accepts donations for either the reduction of the deficit or the general fund and they could just do that. But when pushed, I find that they want everyone else to pay more, not them. They would never think of not waiting and making a financial gift.

      It would be the same with “personalized” guns. They’re just what everyone else should have, but not for the personal guards of the people advocating them.

  5. There are way too many variables and “what ifs” to make this become a reality. The thing that these proponents don’t understand is that criminals will find ways to disable or bypass this technology while law abiding people “carrying” will be at a huge disadvantage not only time-wise” but remembering how to make their weapon “hot” costing precious time and ultimately, lives. Enough of of this “feel good” technology and laws. Get a grip people and use the brains the good Lord gave you and use good common sense. Geez!!!

  6. Let me se 5,000 shots with gloves in the rain. Then in -20 F weather. Then after dropping in salt water.

      • Nothing is going to be proof against an unauthorized user with enough time. Lodestar, a company trying to bring one to market, even admits it. They’re adding components to the gun to make it not work. Criminals will remove, replace, or modify the parts to make a stolen gun useable. People already pin or remove grip safeties and firing pin blocks.

        • It doesn’t matter if it is defeatable or not. Even with great difficulty.

          Because even if it *might* “save just one life”, it will be worth it, as far as they are concerned. It’s a minor inconvenience (a minor burden) that still “respects the second amendment”, and therefore is constitutional. (That’s their interpretation of the 2A.)

          Be grateful they aren’t demanding a full NFA-level background check and an NFA ‘stamp’ for each individual round of ammunition. Since you technically still can buy ammunition (even if only one round at a time) as far as they are concerned, that “respects the 2A” and is only a minor burden.

          Oh, and you can bet your ass removing or defeating a microstamp will be a felony with mandatory prison time, if they could get away it…

  7. Smart gunms. Look what Eating from The Tree of Knowledge has done for humans, not good. I say NO to smart gunmd

  8. I’m OK with smart guns, just don’t force one on me because there is ZERO chance of me owning one.

        • “Smart gun invented by a dumb ass!”

          Don’t fool yourself, they aren’t in the least bit stupid. It’s a little, innocuous-sounding ‘nudge’ in the direction the Leftists want to go.

          And the little ‘steps’ add up in the long game they are playing, a “fundamental transformation of America” that Obama promised right after he was elected…

    • What about all the old “dumb” guns?

      Will they be now banned or have to be retrofitted with the new technology?

      • Oh, they’ll be banned, of course.

        And the “smart gun” technology is going to get an additional feature, for “public safety.” Someone in the state capital is going to get a remote kill switch that shuts all the “smart guns” down. “If it saves just one life…”

        The “smart cars” from Google and the rest are all also going to have this “undocumented feature.” Totalitarians hate it when the hoi polloi have freedom of movement. Which is why soon enough the “smart cars,” like “smart guns,” will be mandatory and the vehicle you own today will be banned too.

        These people want to turn the entire world into one vast gulag. You will live to see it.

  9. “Latest Survey Confirms Gun Owners OK With Smart Guns, But Don’t Want to Buy One”

    I HATE “surveys” and I HATE “polls” because they NEVER represent a true slice of whatever it is they’re trying to prove out…

    Having said that, personally, IDGAF about “smart” guns one way or the other because I’ll NEVER own one…

    • What do you mean? Just because the poll or survey were conducted in wealthy areas of Seattle, San Francisco and New York?

  10. Police and federal officials should be the first to be required to use “smart guns”…

    • You raise a good question: which group loses guns at a higher rate, law enforcement officers or non-LEO gun owners? Not just by numbers, lost guns per thousand.

      • And which group actually does have their guns taken from them and used against them? Or drops their gat while executing some sweet dance moves? 🙄

        • Or brings loaded guns home to their families? It’s certainly higher by percentage, if not in raw numbers.

        • Or shoots three people in a crowded gun free zone costco, only one of which is an allegedly committing an assault?

    • “Police and federal officials should be the first to be required to use “smart guns”…”

      And *ONLY* ‘Smart Guns’, with *ZERO* exceptions, even for the US Secret Service protecting the President.

      Than and *ONLY* then.

      And since that won’t be happening… 🙂

  11. My guns are already pretty smart, not one of them had ever fired itself or committed a crime and not only that they don’t do drugs or alcohol. They’d be on the Deans List if they had gone to school.

  12. I don’t own a smart phone or tablet, but my wife frequently has trouble answering hers, especially if she is expecting an important call. Doesn’t always read her fingerprint or whatever like it should. You might want to carry a brick or rock for backup if you carry a smart gun.

    Let the police and military work all the bugs out, universally adopt them and then sell them to the citizens.

  13. Speaking of fantasy bullshit that doesn’t work and nobody wants how’s the microstamping fairy fairing these days?

    • The fairy doesn’t give a shit, because the law is still on the books in California, and fucking over the citizens who live there…

  14. Why in hell would I want a gun that can fail due to as simple as a dead charge??
    Give it a decent caliber and a fail safe to turn it off. Then maybe. More then likely not
    Change NJ law then still a maybe. But still more then likely NOT. Never no way .

      • I have family there who are good POTG, owners and shooters, so the situation there is personal to me…

  15. This is just another way to force a free citizenry to be under the control of politicians and bureaucrats, one way or another. If those same “government” people REALLY gave a rats ass about saving the lives of American citizens, there WOULD BE a solution to the opioids addiction, drug importation and the crimes that come along with them and the illegal use of guns would drop off dramatically. But, then “gun control” wouldn’t have the center stage it currently has.
    Actually, my personal belief is the politicians and their parties actually receive MUCH of their support from of the illegal drug trade and the attorneys and various systems that thrive because of it. It is not in their best financial interest to see it go away. And we all know the “best financial interest” of lawmakers and attorneys is of paramount importance and will be maintained over any and all other considerations.
    Guns didn’t kill as many people as clubs, bats and hammers last year. Sooo….How do we make smart hammers and bats so we can save lives???

  16. I have no trust in these so called Smart Guns, would not have one for free, certainly would not buy one with my hard earned money. Oh by the way, what if any sort of functional, serviceable guarantee is there with these things. There is none? Now what does that tell you? It tells me a whole lot, and it speaks loudly too.

  17. My biggest problem with “smart guns” is how easy to circumvent they are going to have to be. A gun is, ultimately, a pretty simple device. It makes a pin hit a primer really fast. That’s it. There’s a lot you can do to make that process more precise and efficient, but as long as you’ve got that, and a barrel for the round to go through, you’ve got a deadly device. As long as that device is physically capable of making that pin hit that primer, then it’s literally impossible to design any kind of electronic locking system that can’t be circumvented by either filing something down, soldering something on, shorting two wires, or some similarly trivial process. This kind of technology won’t do a thing to prevent stolen guns from being used by someone other than the original owner. What, then, is the purpose supposed to be? The only thing left is preventing children from using it accidentally, which is a concern I can totally understand, but isn’t the same thing accomplished by just locking your gun up, or keeping it on your person when it’s not locked? If anything, stealing daddy’s watch is a LOT easier for most kids to pull off than breaking into his gun safe. (Though, to be fair, a sufficiently motivated kid can pull that off, too…)

  18. Buy a “smart gun” to reply on in a life and death situation? Never. No way. Ain’t happening.

  19. a more correct definition of smart gun is a gun that will guide the bullet to my intended target, even if the barrel isn’t quite aimed at it.

  20. After it has been fully adopted by law enforcement (federal, state, local) and the military, I’ll consider it.

    If it’s not good enough for the cops, it ain’t good enough for me.

  21. I won’t carry a S&W revolver with a lock.

    Anybody who thinks I”m going to carry any “smart” gun is simply out of their mind.

  22. There is ONLY ONE REASON govt wants the citizens to be forced to own stupid “smart guns” . SO THE GOV’T CAN TURN THEM OFF WHEN THEY COME TO TAKE THEM.!

  23. I will buy a smart gun when Hell freezes over or armies and police forces have confidence in them. Like I said, ‘when Hell freezes over!’

  24. okay with smart guns…not even a smidgen… screw that BS.. typical lying liberal polls…

  25. Of course. I could guess which LeMans car I’d like driving best, probably with more rational basis than smart gun proponents have for pushing smart guns, but yanno, it’s all hypothetical. Anyone who’s touched off a round from a regular gun and not been traumatized due to some pre-existing phobia (or to be perfectly fair sensitivity to fumes) is going to know it’s not that big of a deal. If you adhere to rules which amount to the gun equivalent of do-not-stick-hand-in-toaster, they’re safe already.

  26. The concept of a “Smart Gun” is dangerously flawed. The thinking of anyone who would own one is equally, dangerously flawed. Stupid in a scary way.

    There are certain types of people I avoid being around.

    The very stupid, for example.

  27. what if someone needed to pick it up to stop someone from finishing you off, when they try to shoot your armed attacker, “click” you die, they die. smart guns are stupid guns. only demokrats ( communist) should have them. then if it goes “click” instead of “bang” , I would not mind.

  28. Well, if I’m out hiking with somebody and I find myself mauled to death by a grizzly bear, the person I’m with is sol because he (or she) can’t use my gun and whoops, they’re also dead. Or if I’m at a range with my old man, he can’t use my guns and I can’t use his. What a great idea.

    • Those are features, not bugs.

      #1 removes at least one gun owner and two potential gun users from this world. Those people are evil anyway because guns. So really the smart gun allowed the bear to do us all a favor and the world is now safer. Both people were just mass shooters in waiting anyway, so fuck ’em.

      #2 Means gun ownership is now more expensive because you can’t try before you buy and private sales, regardless of UBC’s are now a huge PITA because you can’t try the gun out and you have to pay to get it changed over to “you” so that you can fire it. You inconvenience means nothing in the face of all the lives saved when the next Adam Lanza can’t use his mom’s guns. If it saves one life.

      These people are not stupid. So, yeah, from their point of view it is a great idea.

  29. It took over a hundred years for Law Enforcement to even trust semi-automatic pistols! The idiots that want to encourage this type of gun want to add another layer of possible malfunction to your guns… I want the BEST possible chance of 100% PERFECT operation of my gun!

  30. I have a vague recollection that, to satisfy New Jersey’s law, a smart gun cannot be less reliable than a conventional gun. That shows how thoughtless legislators are. Any time you add a failure mode to a system, reliability necessarily drops. But what do I know about the subject; I’m just a physicist turned engineer too dumb to understand that good intentions are more important than actual results.

    For the proponents of smart guns, reduced reliability is a feature, not a bug. If a cop or the victim of a violent crime can’t shoot his assailant because his smart gun fails to recognize him, that’s a good thing. That the cop or victim is likely to be badly injured or killed as a result doesn’t matter.

    If the proponents of smart guns want to sell them to the public, they should first sell them to the police. The public buys what the cops carry. When it was revolvers and shotguns, that’s what the public bought. Now, it’s semiautomatic pistols and AR15s.

    • That”s not part of the law. If it was, nobody would care. A smart gun has all the critical components as a conventional gun plus the smart components. The probability that a system will work is the product of the probabilities of not failing of all the components. Multiplying the existing probability by a new component, and the failure rate increases unless the new component has no possibility of failure. Anything can break, wear, be interfered with, develop stress fractures, oxidize, run out of energy, or fail in any number of various other ways. Even if the failure is one in a trillion, the new system failure probability will be higher. Of course, the failure rates of sensors, batteries/capacitors, motors/solenoids, and moving parts is a lot higher. This should be taken into consideration by any person or agency considering using one. Also, consider that there’s no clearance drill for repairing a broken component within a gun, so their unrecoverable failures.

      • “their” should be “they’re” for you grammar nazis. I didn’t bother the click the edit boxes.

  31. I don’t think it’s about safety in any way, shape or form. I’ve long suspected it’s a back-door route to large scale confiscation via mandating that all guns must meet a certain “safety” standard in a short timeframe or be turned in.

    Then only guns that are “smart” can be sold, at a mark up that prices the poor out of ownership, and in order to keep your existing guns you must prove you’ve added expensive upgrade(s) to them within some sort time period that’s designed not to be met.

    So someone has a bunch of, say 10, old guns that are mostly bolt and lever guns. Well, to “upgrade” them is $500-$800 a piece. OK, well by Jan. 1 next year you pay the $5000-$8000, get the work done and prove that the work was done to someone’s satisfaction or it’s illegal to continue to have them.

    In some cases under such a scheme you could never keep the gun because it’s rare enough that no one would design/figure out an “upgrade” and therefore under the law you have to turn it in because it can never be made “safe” within the allotted time no matter how much you pay.

  32. It begins with Smart Guns. The next step is only robots will be allowed to own guns. You heard it here first.

  33. Put me down as I won’t purchase a smart gun however if some Leftard moron wants one let them have their smart gun.

  34. Technology is a double edged sword. If they introduce guns with whatever the technological advancement de jour might be, that tech will be obsolete soon after. Anyone with a 5 year old computer knows that the cost and “upgrades” or “fixes” can be frustrating, unreliable and even counter effective.

    Anyone who doesn’t believe the gubmint wouldn’t have a way of tracking where our guns are at all times, how often and where they are fired and who knows, maybe even whether they are secured when not carried according to some as yet unknown standard.

    Smart guns? No thanks.

  35. The whole idea is asinine. If it’s programmable, it’s hackable, PERIOD! I don’t care what kind of safeguards they build into it, it’s still capable of being compromised. To all those “Gun Owners” OK with the idea, do you really trust the government enough to allow them the potential control of your fireatm? Bevause that is what we’re going to end up with in the end. If you trust them, and especially trust the ATF (A-Holes Toting Firearms), you need serious psychiatric help. It’s delusional to think there isn’t a nefarious plan behind this.
    For my family, stuff that technology where it belongs…

  36. This is an example of a fundamental difference between progressives and traditionalist. Those on the right say, “believe what you want but what you want. As long as you don’t impact myself or others, go to it.”

    Progressives aren’t happy with that. They insist that you believe what they believe and only buy what they want you to. They cannot abide a difference of opinion, or even lifestyle, yet they call those on the right fascists.

  37. So basically the technology is not evolved enough for LE use but anti gun interests want to push it into civilian use. Civilian gun owners lives don’t matter (as usual) with another burden of poor reliability.

  38. My question is:

    Why are we as US taxpayers supporting Douglas Weiss developing smart gun technology at Sandia NATIONAL Labs? I worked for an agency, partially supported by outside contracts, long enough to realize that even if this is a private contract we the US taxpayers are paying for the roof over Douglas’s head and lots other infrastructure. Douglas probably wouldn’t have a job if not for us.

  39. How do I reboot with no Ctrl-Alt-Del? Eff that, no way no how alright alright alright.

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