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Gun designer Ernst Mauch looks at the Armatix iP1 while violating one of the four safety rules. (courtesy

Let’s get the politics out of the way first. Predictably, inaccurately, the Washington Post article on “smart gun” gun designer Ernst Mauch asserts that “Second Amendment advocates” and the NRA (‘natch) are blocking the U.S. Armatix iP1 “fearing the technology will be mandated.” To be clear, New Jersey has a law that does just that. Three years after any gun store in the U.S. offers the first “smart gun” for sale, all new guns for sale in NJ must be equipped with user-recognition technology. So it’s not paranoia that prevents Mauch’s handiwork from gaining acceptance among gun owners. It’s the fact that anti-gun politicians want to ram these unreliable, remote controllable firearms down owners’ throats. OK, so, here’s what inspired Mauch to develop the iP1 . . .

Mauch is not a gun designer without a conscience. Early in his career, working on a new sniper rifle, he lay awake one night thinking, “What are you doing? Is it right to develop these kinds of products?” His life, he knew, was being defined by killing, a career at odds with his deep faith in God.

He found a justification in his head: This rifle will one day be used by a sniper trying to kill a kidnapper holding a child in his arms. “This weapon must do its job,” Mauch said. He has found comfort in that rationale throughout his career. He thinks God is on his side.

Just like Michael Bloomberg! Lest we forget, America’s foremost anti-gunner famously proclaimed that he’d already “earned his place in Heaven.” So, the road to hell starts here . . .

Mauch came home to that family one day in the 1990s following four hours of questioning by authorities after a boy accidentally killed a friend with one of Heckler & Koch’s handguns. “Why did the boy not know the gun was loaded?” Mauch was asked. “Why did the boy not know there was a round in the chamber?”

He told his wife, “My dear, I will never forget these last four hours.”

The questions, Mauch said, were good ones. “It was a good gun,” he said. “A good gun, but a dumb gun.” The idea of making guns smarter took hold.

I’d like to interrupt here to counter what is – admittedly – a very effective, emotional argument for “smart guns” – one that the antis will no doubt use to thunder that all guns should be smart guns “if it saves one child’s life.” Assuming Mauch had nothing to do with the fatal negligent discharge cited, why were German authorities questioning him about the tragedy? To ascertain what was and wasn’t possible logistically speaking? Probably.

But the important, indeed critical issue here is risk analysis. Yes, a “smart gun” may save children from tragic negligent discharges, or a gun owner from being shot with his or her own gun. But what are the risks? The iP1 requires its user to wear a watch-like device to activate the gun. How many people could face death or grievous bodily harm because they weren’t wearing the bracelet during a life-threatening attack, or when the technology failed?

That’s the thought in the minds of millions of American gun owners who reject Mauch’s meisterwerk. But more than that, “Second Amendment” advocates are worried that they won’t have a choice. That the government will force them to surrender their “dumb guns” in favor of “smart guns.” And then the aggressor in question could be . . . the government. Or anyone else with a basic knowledge of electronics who could switch off the guns remotely.

Right wing anti-government gun nut paranoia? Not at all. First, New Jersey. Second, Armatix has already patented the remote disabling feature. Facts that the Washington Post singularly fails to mention in its desire to canonize Mauch.

Several years later, while running Heckler & Koch, Mauch awarded a research and development contract to a German electrical lock company interested in smart-gun technology. But in 2005, Mauch left Heckler & Koch in a dispute with the investment firms behind the company, a painful moment in his life.

Mauch said he received lucrative job offers from many of his competitors, but he wanted to pursue smart guns. His wife told him: “Now you have to do this other mission. This is why you aren’t at H&K anymore. You have to make guns safer.”

In 2006, Mauch joined Armatix, a spin out from the lock firm, investing his own money and leading the development of the .22-caliber iP1, targeted specifically for the U.S. market, where interest in the technology has increased in recent years. He recruited electrical engineers, gunsmiths and a few old contacts in the industry who didn’t think he was certifiable.

And so the iP1 was born. Again, opposition to the gun isn’t a question of mental health. Nor anti-religious fervor. It’s a matter of economics, personal safety and civilian disarmament. The Post fails to mention that most American gun owners welcome the technology; they just don’t want it made mandatory. Which has already happened.

As far as reliability, commentators on this site put it this way: let cops try it first. A suggestion that the Post acknowledges at the end of their hagiography (of a gun designer no less): “Law enforcement officials have been quietly saying that if [Mauch] comes over, they’d be willing to meet with him.” I call BS. “Quietly saying” means “don’t ask me for my sources because they won’t talk to you because they don’t exist.”

But hey, why not? Them first. After that, speaking personally, no thanks. But thanks for asking – rather than telling. Oh wait . . .

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    • …and because batteries never die during use in electronic devices, because electronic devices subjected to firearm recoil forces never break (check the warranty on most scope manufacturers’ illuminated scopes; electronics are more limited than the optics, because they break more often), because the signal could be jammed (either by chance or by design), because extreme cold never affects electronics and batteries (hey, some of us live/work where this is a concern), etc.

      There are LOTS of reasons why this is a bad idea. And for the record, I have never said that cops should try them first.

      I said that cops should be MANDATED to use them for at LEAST 10 years, in every department, every state, every weather condition, SUCCESSFULLY (read: without failure), before I would consider buying one. Thanks for letting me clear that up.

    • I guess the science and tech repoter at WAPO hasn’t heard about this new tech called “google search”.

      Funny, since much of his text is word for word from that computeredge article a couple months ago, or usatoday two days ago.

      Thats what you get for having unpaid interns do the fact checking I suppose…those deadlines for a friday Jlistv2.0 TPM echo chamber meme rebroadcast can be a b1tch, too.

      Oh, well. We know he’ll get his invite to the WH Correspondents Dinner, at least.

    • An American acquaintance with European tendencies suggested to me a few years back that all handguns in the U.S. be equipped with GPS tracking device so the government could track all handguns in real time.

      That way, if a gun was converging on a soft target (e.g., school), the government could remotely disable it.

      Face palm.

      • That is a great idea! See, the government would automatically disable when you were in certain areas of which you might be a threat. So the gun would only activate itself when you are at an approved gun range, otherwise it would be de-activated for your safety of course.

  1. I fear that smart guns, like external safeties, make the user more careless. We are being swept by the muzzle in the picture. Yeah, I know the picture can’t hurt me but somebody was standing there photographing. Safety rule FAIL!

    • I completely agree. Saw a lot of this in aviation, over-reliance on systems vice basic skills.

      California’s fixed magazine/bullet button law, and their loaded chamber indicator law in my opinion make guns less safe. Making it harder to drop a magazine to ensure a weapon is clear makes it more difficult, and therefore more likely to not do it correctly. Folks get lazy and complacent. Funny thing is– ranges I’ve been to don’t let you treat it as a fixed magazine. They know its safer to remove the mag, so they make you do it when the range isn’t hot, even though it takes a tool.

      The loaded chamber indicator? What the &*($ good is that? It’s a temptation to violate the basic rule– always treat the gun as it’s loaded until you’ve verified it isn’t. It will get some folks to start trusting that indicator and we all know at some point it’s gonna fail.. or someone will see what they expect to see- the indicator– vice really looking.

      • Correct. And the obvious response to the question in the article “Why didn’t the boy know the gun was loaded?”, is “because he has never been taught how to safely handle a firearm.”

    • Maybe he wasn’t wearing the watch when he muzzle swept the photographer. Or had not entered the code, so the whole thing is, like, perfectly safe…

    • and the Secret Service detail protecting American politicians as well… After they field test it, I’ll be glad to “consider it”.

    • We can’t let the State Troopers get those guns first! Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on such an advanced weapon, that will guarantee my safety by application of high-tech electronic wizardry, so that I am the only one who can fire it. What could possibly go wrong . . .go wrong . . . go wrong . . . go wrong . . .

  2. “Why did the boy not know the gun was loaded?” Mauch was asked. “Why did the boy not know there was a round in the chamber?” Uhhh, because the boy was stupid and criminally negligent? As shown by the fact that he pointed a gun at a friend and pulled the trigger?

    Considering all of the stories about police officers shooting themselves, other officers, suspects and family members “accidentally” (“the gun discharged”), let’s require all law officers, (including DEA undercover cops, aka “the Only Ones”) to carry these wonderful “safer” guns, and have them disabled until they get approval from their supervisor to use a gun. THAT will certainly save a lot of lives, won’t it!

    • Also likely because the boy’s family didn’t integrate firearms and firearms safety into their lives. Starting with the idea that guns are not toys and are only to be handled in the presence of an adult, to how to handle them safely, make sure they’re clear, the four rules, all of it.

      We didn’t have guns in my house, but we did have liquor, and it was kept under a end table in the living room. No liquor cabinet, not even hidden from view. My brothers and I were not even curious. I think I had a sip of whiskey once as a kid that my dad poured for me, and I drank a beer once when I was thirteen. Didn’t drink again until I was of legal age, and I never developed a taste for beer.

      Knowledge is always better than ignorance.

  3. Maybe we can get someone sympathetic to us in congress to put this in a bill making its adoption mandatory for use by any police agency getting federal matching grant $$

    Wanna bet that will kill it

        • Wasn’t Lynn Swan a Republican?
          There are plenty great black Republicans I was just wondering with your “not ready for another one” comment if you were referring to someone specific.
          I think America is ready for 100,000 more black Republicans if they would just come out on the side of Conservative values that run through a large part of the black community.
          Most black people I know (and I know several hundred) go to church, own guns, have middle income jobs, embrace capitalism, oppose same sex marriage. The problem is that the majority of them are affraid to leave the Democrat party in fear of being called “sellouts”.

  4. I’m getting tired of this “for the children” excuse. If the adults now had learned for themselves we wouldn’t need to be protecting the children as much as they think. The whole point of childhood is to learn how to be an adult, teach them properly and we don’t need to restrict the kids.

  5. If somebody wants to buy one of these fine.. it’s their choice.

    If the Government thinks I’ll ever give up my dumb guns for one of these even if they make it mandatory..they have another thing coming.

  6. As a tech geek, I have been an early adopter on a lot of gadgets. This, though, I wouldn’t touch with a 10 ft pole. If my MiniDisc player had failed (ah, pre-iPod life), I’d have been mildly inconvenienced. If this gizmo fails you, you pray it happens at the range because otherwise, odds are it means you are about to get dead.

    I’ll pass on using tech to substitute for what should be an education/training issue. Because relying on tech doesn’t fix stupid and, tech or no, the 4 Rules are still going to apply with every gun forever. No matter how good the tech is (and this ain’t very good), without observance of the 4 Rules, stupid people will still find ways to have ND’s. Stupid ALWAYS finds a way.

  7. That pic looks makes it look like he’s contemplating putting the pistol in his mouth and pulling the trigger.

    Or maybe that’s just like a ‘Rorschach thing’….

    • Create a kickstarter to ….
      1) Purchase gun
      2) Create Youtube on how to defeat it mechanically/electrically by taking it apart.
      3) Create a jammer
      4) Youtube demonstration that it defeats the gun
      5) Freely publish schematic across the internet

      I’m in for $20

      The mere fact of this kickstarter would be a kick in the nuts of smart guns from teh get go.

      • An enterprising pro-gun YouTuber looking for a spike in web traffic would do this and start posting videos of his intentions and plans.

        4,200 results from Google for “RFID jammer”
        Products available to buy off the shelf.

  8. Within days of this thing hitting the market – and eventually, someone WILL be willing to sell it – someone will figure out how to block the RFID that tells the gun its clunky “watch” is in range and it can fire. This thing might be good as an expensive range toy but as a general-purpose firearm, you can keep it. I won’t trust my safety to this technology.

  9. I’m not surprised that the Jew-hating WaPo is suggesting that we should take self-defense suggestions from a German.

    • Just imagine if “smart gun” technology had existed in 1930s Germany.

      Take a generous amount of gun registration, sprinkle in some GPS tracking, add a dash of remote kill-switch technology…

      …while we’re at it, let’s add a touch of mandatory cheek swabs for DNA collection…


  10. “It was a good gun,” he said. “A good gun, but a dumb gun.”

    –correction: It was a good gun, but a ignorant user.

  11. Will the law enforcement use this technology? What happens when a law enforcement officer loses his weapon, will he be able to use his partners, if his partner is incapacitated? Or if a home owner is killed, will his wife or children be able to pick up his gun an use it? I know the answers, but I have the feeling that the gun nuts that are pushing this haven’t thought about it. Heaven help us if the Military is even thinking about using this technology.

    • They aren’t, and never will.
      The military doesn’t need hand-holding devices. Neither do the police.
      As much as they might want it to prevent issued handguns from being stolen, I think the reliability issues will always prevent them from using it.
      I mean, everyone with a glock opted to get rid of the manual safety on most previous handguns for internal drop safeties because of the reliability concerns with a manual safety in stressful environments. Nothing wrong with that, and many people still prefer manual safeties and hammers, but still. It should always be user choice, never mandated.

  12. There is no such thing as a stupid gun. Only a stupid handler of a gun.
    Under no casual situation should the barrel pass a person or the handler of the firearm. Self defense is a different story, obviously.
    Under no situation should the trigger even be touched without clearing the firearm and double checking.
    Under no situation should a child be prohibited from learning the proper use and safety of a firearm, because should they somehow get their hands on one and not know the 4 basic safety rules, whatever they do is from ignorance.

  13. With the way he is pointing that pistol at the cameraman, apparently he didn’t learn the true lesson of the story of that little boy

    • Oh thank God I wasn’t the only person flipping out about the dude flagging the camera man.

      So the designer of this product doesn’t understand basic handling, etiquette, and practices of said product!? This thing will be top-notch!

      • Maybe they would say that it’s OK since the photographer wasn’t a child?

        I would counter that the photographer was probably a Leftist with plenty of childish thoughts.

  14. It sounds like his great moral dilemma could have been solved by a loaded chamber indicator. A kid wearing the bracelet could still horse around with the gun and shoot himself or someone else.

    It is a dumb idea, period. Nobody who carries a gun professionally will ever be interested in such a thing. I doubt they will ever go beyond the .22 they have already developed.

    • No, the loaded chamber indicator wouldn’t have solved anything either. What if the indicator breaks? What if the kid is relying on the damn indicator instead of following the basic laws of gun safety?

      Therein lies the problem. Technology will not solve the issue of people doing stupid things, either through ignorance or willful disregard of the basics of safety.

      • I said could, not “would.” I am in complete agreement with you, I just think it was odd they mentioned that particular accident when the main feature of this “smart” gun has nothing to do with keeping people from shooting themselves. They cast the net so wide it doesn’t even make sense.

    • NJ legislator who drafted the bill is willing to “negotiate” its mandatory use requirements if the NRA will not “block” its development. Sounds like someone who is unsure of whether there is a legal ability to mandate sales. . . . .

      I say take it to court and let’s pile on the victory to stop commiefornia from this stupidity

      • I agree…I see no reason for the NRA to negotiate anything. First, that only shows the politicians own conceit and proof of corruption of power. Last I learned, she should be working for her district.

        Second, as I understand it, per Ms Padilla who was thoughtful enough to document the Armatrix P1’s display for sale at the CA lgs, then the legal precedent to trigger the three year countdown, in NJ to deny any but this spacegun, is already underway, right?

        I mean, I hate to consider that US politicians, through executive action, as the Armatrix has suddenly showed up on the California approved Roster of Handguns, apparently without the microstamping bogus tech requirement, or

        by single party control effectively rail-roading ALL law abiding citizens into a legally “undefended” state,
        in NJ,

        have apparently ‘colluded’ with the sales rep of a foreign gun maker…

        while the force of the law is being proven, by SCOTUS, repeatedly, that these bans are unconstitutional.

        Why…that would be a crime in itself right? Across state lines too, like racketeering…
        My, my, my what would the DOJ say about that….

  15. Technology is not always a cure-all for the world’s problems. Sometimes the simplest solution (i.e. training, following gun safety rules, etc.) is best.

    This is a solution looking for a problem.

  16. Make LEOs carry disabled smart guns and have to call in to have it activated – if it saves one dog’s life, it will be worth it

  17. “How many people could face death or grievous bodily harm because they weren’t wearing the bracelet during a life-threatening attack, or when the technology failed?”

    Playing devil’s advocate, this doesn’t happen in Germany, it doesn’t happen in most of the world where self-defense is not seen as a right or a valid excuse to be armed. Guns are owned (by civilians) for sporting purposes and don’t see legal use in life-or-death self defense situations.
    In this case, the drawbacks of a 99.8% reliable smartgun are entirely acceptable and justified.

    *dons flamesuit*

  18. None of these Smart Gun companies are any obligation to make these firearms in an acceptable defensive caliber or make them cheaper. These things go against the grain of what the consumer wants and are economically backwards compared to what is currently available. 3 years after the first sale of one of these and they still don’t have a firearm in 9mm at a price lower then 1k or if nothing under that price is approved for sale in NJ, there will be lawsuits against the state and the companies for sticking the people in this ridiculous rut.

    • Yeah there’s no need to make these in a defensive caliber because they’re never intended (nor should anyone make the mistake of believing it is) for defensive use.

  19. My concern is that the ‘watch’ will, almost, make the act of carrying concealed impossible. Once everyone has seen it and the variants (the media will make sure everyone knows what they look like) it will be easy to identify people with a carrying a concealed gun.

    Long sleeves could help and variation in the ‘watch’ would too . . . but I quit wearing watches 20 years ago. Watches feel like leashes, or a tether in this case, and there are clocks everywhere.

    My two cents worth.

    • What happens when someone just hacks the watch electronics into the body of the gun? Answer, you have a piece of electronic equipment in your firearm that serves no purpose whatsoever, other than giving your gun a battery-life, and making it more expensive, ad entirely defeats its own reason to exist.

  20. If the German cops don’t know enough about how guns work that they have to quiz a gun designer for four hours to find out why a bullet came out of one at high speed, they should probably be in another line of work.

  21. Anyone notice that this guy is pointing his gun at the photographer?

    Here are my concerns with it:
    1. Electronic malfunction – either where you want it to fire and it won’t or conversely what if it shouldn’t fire but does?
    2. You get in a struggle or slip and fall or in an adrenaline rush panic you beat the watch and/or gun into something, damaging the watch or the mechanism in the gun rendering it unusable. Most dumb guns can take a hell of a beating without failing. Glock, for instance.
    3. Same as above but you break your hand, fingers, wrist or arm of strong side. What are you going to do? Politely ask attacker to wait while you move the watch to your other wrist?
    4. Jamming or spoofing by the attacker or a third party.
    5. You’re being attacked and you’re with spouse, child, relative or friend and you have the only gun but you are incapacitated and your only chance of survival is for one of the other people to use your weapon immediately? Or, same situation but you have two guns. The second gun is a useless paperweight.
    6. Complacency – people relying on this tech shooting themselves because they were sure the gun wouldn’t fire but did because of number 1 or 4 above or because they thought it was a smart gun but wasn’t.

    • Number five is a great concern. Can you imagine being hit and your wife only has a few seconds to grab you piece before the attacker is upon you, and then, nothing!

    • All of your points can be answered by this:

      This gun is not made or intended for defensive or constitutional use.

      It is a target/hobby/small game gun, and if it doesn’t go off, it isn’t a life or death situation.

  22. The smart gun is an interesting concept and in a normal world the concept could, over time, result in some interesting products that could obsolete current technology. That won’t happen with the stilted viewpoint of the controllists. Didja ever notice you own a firearm for self defense but spend a most of your time defending yourself against the people who want to take your gun?

  23. The only “smart gun” (not to be confused with any smart-weapon/smart-trigger system produced by Tracking Point [who are diligently working to get credit terms available. Right TP compadres?]), would be a gun that could (in any weather or lighting conditions) quickly find its way (unaided) into the a_ _ – holster of any anti-gunner.

    • And . . . [wait for it. . .] no one can protect you from guns (deal with it, LIVE there), and you therefore cannot protect yourself without guns.

      If someone wants your guns, it’s because they are attempting to disarm you for the next civil war or war with China and they are getting paid to do so.

    • Anti-gunners should read more military history and military doctrine.

      The smartest weapon (in an individual’s arsenal) is the simplest one. It’s already been decided.

  24. I think that the concerns about smart guns boil down to a few different categories.
    1. Reliability. Adding electronics to a gun creates many more failure points. These could be amplified in an emergency situation as users struggle to enable their gun under stress.
    2. Forced failure. Whether by criminals or a malicious government, adding electronics to guns increases the opportunity for evil actors to deprive citizens of the means to self-defense.
    3. Cost. Adding electronics to guns raises the price, thereby placing barriers in the way to poorer people having the means to effective tools for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting.
    4. The fear of a mandate (which we know the gun control crowd would love to extend beyond NJ) increases the concerns about all of the above.

    It’s a pity, because I think smart guns could have limited utility in certain situations, and would like to let the market decide. However, so long as the gun-control side is committed to mandating them, or even willing to entertain the idea, we have to resist smart guns.

  25. “His life, he knew, was being defined by killing, a career at odds with his deep faith in God.”

    Not even that far in and I take EXTREME issue with something. There is killing all over the bible. Murder is a whole different thing though.

  26. Yah…Herr Mauch your “smart gun” would still kill people if the shooter pulled the trigger with his mickey mouse watch on. If you want forgiveness quit making ANY gun.

  27. So because he has faith in God automatically puts him on the same plain as Bloomberg? i dont think he is any where near the same as Bloomberg. It sounds like hea bothered more by the tragedy that ensues when an individual either has zero reapect for human life or when the ignore the rules of firearm saftey

  28. My Mossberg 930 SPX failed during a stage last weekend. The trigger wouldn’t push the sear and allow the trigger to come forward. I disassembled the entire gun and cleaned the trigger. A small foreign object fell out of the trigger. It seems to function now. All it took was a punch and some cleaning supplies. Now add a technological component to the shotgun and I have a very expensive paper weight if it decides to break. I won’t be able to fix it.

    Second problem, if they mandated this in all guns would they force me to retro fit my Colt M1917 revolver? Or destroy it? I bet I know that answer!

  29. I’d like to know what the range of the transmitter is? If you got in a scuffle with an assailant, and he was able to grab your gun, I’m betting he could shoot you with it, as long as he was still close to you.
    How close would depend on the range of the transmitter, anybody know??

  30. What I find amazing is that obviously the New Jersey law is having the opposite of its intended effect. It is serving as a barrier to smart guns finding their way to an open market so if they were truly interested letting the market decide and letting people buy smart guns then they would simply repeal that law.

    It hasn’t happened tho.

  31. I’ll keep using my “dumb” guns until they are completely unserviceable, and by then I’ll probably have died of old age anyway.

  32. So let’s see if I got the headline straight –

    Deluded European subject and “smart gun” gun designer Ernst Mauch asserts that “Second Amendment advocates,” the NRA (‘natch) and Satan are blocking the untested and possibly unreliable U.S. Armatix iP1, and hopes the technology will be mandated over consumer objections.

    Did I get it right?

  33. Am i the only one who saw the video where the gun and watch were demonstrated, and the watch was pulled away.. and the gun clicked once before disarming itself? It sure sounded like a firing “click”…


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