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Armatix iP1 pistol with RIFD watch

NSSF Press release:

Americans Skeptical of ‘Smart Guns’; Oppose Their Legislative Mandate, National Poll Finds

NEWTOWN, Conn. — By a wide majority, Americans are skeptical of the reliability of technology intended to prevent all but authorized users of a firearm from being able to fire it. They also say overwhelmingly that they would not be likely to buy such a so-called “smart gun” and overwhelmingly oppose any government mandate requiring the use of this technology should it become available . . .

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These findings were the among the results of a national scientific poll of more than 1,200 Americans conducted in October by McKeon & Associates and released today by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. Although attempts to develop and market firearms equipped with authorized user recognition technology have been discussed for many years, the topic has been revived in recent months by some gun control advocates, remarks by President Obama and by the depiction of a smart gun in the latest James Bond movie.

Asked “How familiar are you with efforts to develop a firearm that will only fire for a specific authorized person(s)?”, only 20 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with the concept of “smart gun” technology. 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.

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To the question, “How likely would you be to purchase a gun with smart gun technology that prevented it from firing except for specific authorized users?” an overwhelming 74 percent of respondents overall said that they would not buy or would not very likely buy such a firearm. Only 14 percent of those polled said that they were very or somewhat likely to purchase a “smart gun.”

Some 70 percent of the survey sample also said that did not believe that government should mandate that all firearms produced incorporate “smart gun” technology should it become commercially available. Only 17 percent approved of a mandate, while 13 percent didn’t know.

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The poll conducted Oct. 7-8 has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent. Respondents self-identified as 25 percent Democrat, 23 percent Republican and 52 percent independent. As to ethnicity, 70 percent of respondents said they were Caucasian, 14 percent African-American, 9 percent Hispanic; and 7 percent, other. As to age, 17 percent of respondents said they were 18-30; 28 percent, 31-45; 33 percent 46-60; and 21 percent, 60 or older.

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation does not oppose the development of owner authorized technology for firearms and, should such products come to market, individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to purchase them. However, we do oppose legislative mandates that would require manufacturers to produce only such firearms,” said Larry G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel.

“We commissioned this poll to help determine where Americans stood on this issue. We are not surprised, frankly, to find that the majority of those polled were skeptical of this technology, although the margins were perhaps higher than even those of us familiar with the arguments would have expected. We are encouraged by the fact that seven out of ten of those surveyed did not believe the government should mandate the “one-size-fits-all” approach of so-called “smart gun” technology.

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  1. Using technology to solve education and training issues is a feel-good measure. It solves a nonproblem and complicates straightforward mechanics. What’s the saying – Idiot-proofing something will only create better idiots?

  2. Ever play/watch Metal Gear Solid 4? A plot point of the game is that there’s a system of nano machines in soldiers and mercenaries that controls whether they can fire their weapons or not and the antagonist is a terrorist trying to take control of the system that controls those nano machines. Imagine if a person or entity had control over whether you could use your gun or not. I know what is being proposed here isn’t that but I would never want to see them go beyond this so let’s just stop here before we pave the road to hell with good intentions, ok?

    • That is exactly what is being proposed here. If it wasn’t then there would be no point to the system. That is why most gun-owners feel it is stupid and gun-grabbers think its great.

      Both parties know that owning a smart gun does nothing to prevent the owner from using it in a crime. Nothing about any of the proposed systems dares to suggest that the guns can identify legitimate targets. And, if a cell phone can be “jail-broken”, so can smart gun. So whats the draw? Let us look to another recently developed tech, shall we –

      It is not a great leap to see where this takes us. No thanks.

        • How about not being a bunch of (rant and expletives deleted) and actually go about teaching your kids to be safe and smart instead of waiting for the King to save you?

        • They don’t really think that, because they know if they did, they would then have to justify imposing smart guns on millions of Americans to prevent a nearly insignificant set of statistics from occurring.

    • Not even then, would I buy one. I would even refuse one if it was given to me for free. Its not just the gun, its the implications of the tech itself that i find abhorrent.

      • See I’m exact opposite, I desperately want one for no other reason than to disable the ‘smart’ness with nothing more than a soldering gun and a length of wire or resistor (depending on whether a short or a higher load is required).

        • I’ll just buy some old soviet surplus and call it good. It’ll still be smarter than the average politician.

        • Tampering with your issued gun would naturally be a felony, and you would be picked up the second the installed GPS even flickered. Think about it.

    • That would be a good start. But I doubt it’ll happen…

      I like my guns dumb, thank you. In fact, I sometimes rock a wheelgun just because it feels a little dumber than a polymer auto… in that I’m even more sure that it’ll always work.

  3. There’s nothing “smart” about these guns.
    But there is something stupid about anyone who would willingly carry one of them.

  4. The ideal “Smart Gun” would require an approval code from Diane Finestaink or Mikey Bloomer before each deployment.

    ***Sarcasm WArning***

    • You’re being sarcastic, but I’m sure they’d love to have the power to disable guns in the same way they’d like police to be able to disable cars with a remote.

      Or make it easier and just require owners to keep their guns at a ‘safekeeping facility’ until they want to take them hunting or to an approved range…

      • Ohhh, I’m so sorry. The last ‘approved’ range closed last week. It seems they didn’t keep up with their permits and had to shut down. I guess we can’t let you check out your gun this week after all.

        No worries! Only three more months until you can check out your gun for your annual hunting trip.

    • There are Marines who still complain about having the M-14 taken away from them… TO THIS VERY DAY. I think there will be many FOAD letters to anyone who tries to force them to another unproven technology.

      Why don’t you call your senator and tell him or her what you think about these issues?

  5. I read a Sci-Fi short story when I was younger, I think it was Larry Niven, and in it we had teleportation technology that worked like phone booths. You step in, dial a number, poof you are there instead of here. This allowed a lot of things to happen, including a new kind of crime. To combat this new crime, the Police could ‘quarantine’ an area and make all the phone booths send everyone to a central processing facility where the criminals could be separated from the common folk.

    That story always comes to mind when I hear about ‘smart guns.’

    High-Profile court decision is being heard today and riots are likely to break out? *ZZZZZZttttttt Bing* All the guns are turned off in an area.

    President/World Leader/Pope driving their motorcade down Main Street? *ZZZZZZttttttt Bing* All the guns are turned off in that area.

    I think the whole idea falls into the unintended consequences category. What seems like a good idea to increase safety takes only a moment of thought to be used against the very people it is supposed to help.

  6. Who cares if the technology works or not, it is the State requiring a form of sophisticated electronics in the gun in a way to inadverdently control who uses the gun. I mean the whole bit about “authorized users only.” Sounds very Big Brother.

  7. Should they ever mandate smart guns, do you think more than six people will be able to access their firearm to protect themselves from an attacker on the first day of the rollout?

  8. My issue smart guns never found them being any smarter than guy use them. After all guns do not fire them selfs. As guys use glocks would say clues people what makes there guns good and bad not gun it self.

  9. The “smart gun” idea stinks to me like a project dreamed up by people who are relatively unfamiliar with firearms but enamored with technology, believing that it can be applied and refined to solve any problem.

    The problem they think they’re trying to solve is that “guns are dangerous and don’t discriminate.” However, the real problem is that they don’t understand guns as life *saving* equipment, which absolutely *must* work when it is needed. If they did, they would realize that adding additional potential points of failure to any firearm design is stupid from the outset.

  10. Here is my list.

    Unacceptable cons:
    ► When the battery in the smart gun “dies” the gun will no longer fire.
    ► Your RFID connection between yourself and the gun is open to RFID noise. Jammer’s can be fabricated (by gov or criminals) to interrupt this connection – disabling your firearm
    ► If you forget to wear your RFID tag on your wrist and grab the gun it will not fire when needed.
    ► Biometric readers are not always 100% correct and can misread for any number of reasons. Biometric readers will delay the guns response time when in a hurry (and pray it reads right on first try).
    ► As guns are fairly simple mechanical devices, criminals will steal “smart” guns and will modify or remove the RFID or biometric verifying electronics bypassing this security.
    ► RFID and Biometrics will increase the cost of firearms and availability for some groups of people.

    And… what do they propose we do with the 300 million guns already in circulation?

  11. I looked at the Armatix website, and it appears that one of these “smart” devices is a rod that you stick in the bore of a 9mm firearm and can only remove with some kind of PIN code. The problem is that if someone is unaware of this “smart” device and tries to fire the gun with it in place, bad things are going to happen. Maybe I misunderstood the product. I hope I did.

  12. I’ve got the multibillion dollar solution to this unauthorized access issue. Its called a gun safe! Now stay with me for a minute, I know it sounds crazy. Its a safe that you put your gun in an… what? You mean that is already a thing? But what if I made all different types, sizes, and had so many at different prices an… they already do that too huh? What about a cable lock that goes throu… they do that too! DAMN!

  13. One thing I find interesting here on TTAG, is that when these poll results were posted above…so were the actual questions and the demographic breakdown. Usually poll quotes are “175% of everybody agree that guns are bad and want them destroyed to save the bunnies and kittens.”

    Thanks to RF and TTAG for providing usable data.

  14. Haven’t you all seen “DREDD” from earlier this year?!?

    What we NEED is an explosive device so the gun takes the hand off of any unauthorized user… Yeah! That’s it!!!

    … or not.

  15. Ok I think reasonably working smart gun technology could save a lot of lives if it where adopted BY POLICE. officers open carry and a significant number of on the job shootings of police involve the officers own gun. This is the original “problem” smart guns where made to solve, not civilian theft. Very few civilians are shot when an unarmed assailant grabs their weapon.

    A police dept has an armorer who can preform frequent regular checks and maintenance on a weapon, even checking the battery before every shift is not beyond the realm of reason. Civilians can be victimized at any time and gave no such luxury.

    Police carry open and thus are targets. A conventional gun would of course be carried concealed as a backup


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