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Using Technology To Make Guns Safer 1013

Posted by timothy
from the cars-should-also-have-brakes-and-turn-signals dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Farhad Manjoo writes that there are a number of technologies that gunmakers could add to their products that might prevent hundreds or thousands of deaths per year. One area of active research is known as the 'smart gun' — a trigger-identification system that prevents a gun from being fired by anyone other than its authorized user. Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology created a working prototype of a gun that determines whether or not to fire based on a user's 'grip pattern.' Gunmakers have been slow to add other safety technologies as well, including indicators that show whether a gun is loaded, and 'magazine safeties' that prevent weapons from being fired when their ammunition magazine is removed (PDF). That could save 400 lives a year. So why aren't gunmakers making safer guns? Because guns are exempt from most of the consumer safety laws that have improved the rest of American life. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, charged with looking over thousands of different kinds of products, is explicitly prohibited from regulating firearms. In 2005, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes gun makers against lawsuits resulting from 'misuse' of the products. If they can't be sued and can't be regulated, gunmakers have no incentive to make smarter guns." Note that gun safety features (not universally loved) like loaded-chamber indicators, grip safeties, and magazine disconnects are constantly evolving and have been available in some form and in various combinations for many decades, so gun makers seem to have some incentive to produce and improve them, and that the PLCAA does not prevent consumer safety lawsuits, but does shield gun makers from suits based on criminal conduct by gun buyers (though imperfectly).
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Using Technology To Make Guns Safer

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  • Safe guns (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:28AM (#42347219)

    Are kind of missing the point. If you actually need to use a gun, you don't want a ton of hardware that will prevent it from firing when you pull the trigger.

    Ask the Army if they really want their guns locked to only work when they pull the trigger, so when they pick up a fallen soldier's gun in the middle of a battle after running out of ammo it won't fire.

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:51AM (#42347519)
      The article and especially the summary is completely wrong about their central claim "gunmakers have no incentive...". Of course that's typical - anti-gunners would never shoot, never handle a firearm, so they normally have no idea what they are talking about. The supreme requirement in a firearm is RELIABILITY. If you are in a situation where you actually have to fire your sidearm, you die if it doesn't work right that time. A defensive weapon has to work every single time. That's why the 1911 design is still the second most popular model over a hundred years later - because it's been proven reliable. That's why you keep firearms simple - complex things break. That's also why you definitely don't add a bunch of complexity designed to make the gun NOT WORK if something isn't perfect - it has to fire, or an innocent person dies. It's only people who don't know about firearms, or about dealing with bad guys in general, who think something like "fingerprinting" one persons particular grip sounds like a good idea. It does sound good, until you think about the fact that the user is UNDER ATTACK. They may very well have to fire with their other hand, after the BG smashes their right arms with a baseball bat, car, stabs them with a knife .... These "smart guns" look cool in movies, but anyone with any tactical experience or training knows they are only movie props. In real life, these ideas would get good guys killed every day. If you've never even been trained in USING a firearm, please don't pontificate about how they be be designed.
      • by Whorhay (1319089)

        Exactly! This was one of the primary reasons I purchased and carried a Glock when I worked as an armed guard. That firearm actually did have 3 safeties, but they were all designed to prevent accidental discharge of the weapon if you dropped it or the trigger snagged on something. If there was a round in the chamber and your finger was all the way on the trigger the gun would fire.

      • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:20AM (#42347897) Journal

        In fact, if you do even one day of actual defense training, one of the exercises you do is shooting with a two-handed grip in the "A" stance, then shooting left handed "side stance" and then right handed "side stance".

        This simple exercise would be impossible with some kind of electronic garbage that prevents firing based on grip signature. Also, I'd rather not have to worry about if the batteries are dead if I need the gun.

        Here's what we need: a 1911-style grip safety, and a Walther PPK-style indicator pin that pops out close to the rear sight if a round is in the chamber. Those two things are remarkably effective, and cost practically nothing. Oh, and they've been around for decades.

      • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#42347951) Journal

        That's why you keep firearms simple - complex things break.

        I find this to be an interesting sentiment coming from a technology oriented community like Slashdot.

        Of course complexity can increase error-proneness. But if this logic is always true, why aren't we still driving Model Ts? Maybe it really is up for debate, but it seems to me that cars have became vastly more complex over the decades, but reliability is on the rise, and cost of maintenance has gone down.

        Planes - planes are vastly more complex than in the past, but very reliable. And peoples' lives literally hang in the balance.

        My point is, we can in fact make complex AND reliable things when we want to, and when we spend the time and resources required. Why are guns exempt from this?

        FWIW, I know how to use (some) guns, and I agree with you... "grip recognition" sounds like something that at best, will work 99% of the time, which isn't enough. But surely we can do better than that.

        • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:11AM (#42348559) Homepage

          Firearms are mechanically simple. You can't add electronics to a simple mechanical device and make it more reliable. Electronics are less reliable than simple mechanical things, so any such change is a step backward.

          Cars and planes are complicated mechanical and electrical devices. You can simplify the circuits and/or mechanical design by replacing some parts with computer control. But just the engine alone in either is well over an order of magnitude more complicated than a gun firing mechanism.

          Good try on the car analogy though, somebody had to do it.

          • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:19AM (#42348657) Journal

            Good try on the car analogy though, somebody had to do it.

            Thanks :-)

            You can't add electronics to a simple mechanical device and make it more reliable. Electronics are less reliable than simple mechanical things, so any such change is a step backward.

            Okay, even if it is a step backward in theory, in practice, are we really not able to engineer something to an acceptable level of reliability? Guns already do not work 100% of the time. They occasionally jam and misfire. We tolerate this unreliability because it is infrequent.

            Let's say you have a gun that is 99.99% reliable... so one out of every 10,000 rounds it jams or misfires. And now, we add electronic safety components to it, and with testing and good engineering, we produce a gun that is 99.97% reliable. So it jams, misfires, or fails to fire 3 out of every 10,000 rounds.

            The question is, I think, whether that decrease in reliability is an acceptable tradeoff for the increase in safety gained due to only the owner being able to fire it.

            • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:52AM (#42349165) Homepage

              Jams and misfires often happen due to ammunition issues. Any drop in reliability for a safety mechanism is going to be additive on top of that. And just the ammo problem rate alone is inherently too high for some people, so a second component adding more risk is hard to justify.

              The fact that jams etc. are relatively rare events is part of why I'm not optimistic about fancier electronic mechanisms. How often does software break because it's presented with a rare failure case the programmer didn't anticipate or test? It is amazingly easy to break a lot of software, sometimes permanently afterward, just by running out of disk space. If I have a threat serious enough that I'm arming myself against it, I'd prefer not to have a gun that crashes the first time an unusual ammo jam happens. We've had hundreds of years of evolution in mechanical firing mechanisms to resist problems seen in the field here; it will take a while to match that. And the disappointing track record so far for things like fingerprint security have not been encouraging.

              Yes, it's possible to put enough money into R&D to make this a negligable risk, eventually. But who wants to fund that work? It's not as if a unique ID trigger suddenly makes the firearm so safe that you can just leave it sitting out. That means you still need a secured safe instead...so that's what the market has been providing. People who are willing to pay for that safety measure already have options available. And those don't become unnecessary if this other problem is solved, which adds to why it's hard to cost justify.

            • by PoolOfThought (1492445) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:59AM (#42349257)
              I know how my boss would feels if I took code that completed its task 99.99 percent of the time (.01% failure) and modified it so that it now completed it's actual task only 99.97% percent of the time (.03% failure). He'd want to know WHY in the hell I made a change that causes failure to occur 3x more often.

              If the device was a pacemaker then that's 3x the deaths due to failure. Why would people buy that product if it was 3x more likely to fail?
              • If the device was a pacemaker then that's 3x the deaths due to failure. Why would people buy that product if it was 3x more likely to fail?

                Because they gained some other benefit not quantified in the failure rate? E.g., maybe the less-failure prone pacemaker needs to be removed for battery replacement every three years, whereas the (slightly) more-failure prone one has a battery that lasts ten years?

            • There's actually a very simple solution to this. A built in trigger lock. Not meant to replace the mechanical safety catch already built in to all modern guns.

              It's really quite simple, and is foolproof. A built in mechanical lock that only opens with a fingerprint scan and password. So you pick up a gun to use for the day, and unlock it. Now it's ready to use, Whenever you want. It automatically relocks itself after 12 hours, unless it's a police or military weapon which is settable to never relock itself o

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:31AM (#42348857) Homepage Journal

          That's why you keep firearms simple - complex things break.

          I find this to be an interesting sentiment coming from a technology oriented community like Slashdot.

          "The more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to clog the drain." -- Scotty, Star Trek III

          There used to be an engineering strategy called the "KISS principle". KISS was an acronym for "keep it simple, stupid." Today's nerds, especially those who work for Microsoft and at most web sites, have thrown this concept out the window.

          But look at an iPhone or an Android -- their designers did what they could to make the sevice as simple as possible for the user. No good coder will write a thousand lines of code when fifty will do the same job.

          Maybe it really is up for debate, but it seems to me that cars have became vastly more complex over the decades, but reliability is on the rise, and cost of maintenance has gone down

          Yes, they're more complex and more reliable, but unlike firearms, automobiles were always complex. Firearms are simple machines requiring little maintenance... and BTW, cars are a hell of a lot more expensive to maintain these days. There was no such thing as a "brain box" or a "climate control module" in a 1970 Ford, and if one of these goes out it will cost you hundreds of dollars to replace. If your water pump went out you could fix it yourself in twenty minutes with a $20 part. Today? Good luck even finding the water pump, you're going to have to hire a mechanic. Gun owners don't want to take their gun to a gunsmith every damned hunting season.

          My point is, we can in fact make complex AND reliable things when we want to, and when we spend the time and resources required. Why are guns exempt from this?

          Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should. This topic is kind of a straw man anyway; none of these measures would have stopped the bloodshed last week; these measures mostly make the liklihood of it going off prematurely and killing the owner. And if a hunter's gun doesn't fire when that nine point buck is in his sights, you're going to have one pissed off hunter who will never buy that brand of gun again.

          • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:55AM (#42349205) Journal

            There's no need to make things unnecessarily complex. The debate is really about what features we want.

            BTW, cars are a hell of a lot more expensive to maintain these days.

            I would actually like to see a historical dataset of automobile maintenance and operating costs (inflation adjusted), but I can't seem to find a decent source right now. However, even if that is true, again, there is a tradeoff. If there are gains in safety, efficiency, utility, and comfort, the added expense can be justified.

            Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should. This topic is kind of a straw man anyway; none of these measures would have stopped the bloodshed last week.

            I'm not saying we should do it because we can, I'm saying maybe there are in fact good reasons to do, AND we can (since so many people seem to argue that it's impossible). Why is there such defeatism and resignation about the potential of technology in this area? It's irrational.

            Second, the reason I was thinking about this RFID idea was specifically as a way to prevent what happened last week. If Lanza's mother had a key fob or implanted chip, Lanza would not have been able to use the guns without it. Could it still have happened? Sure. Maybe Lanza's mother would have given him his own fob. Maybe he would have taken her keys, or cut the chip out of her wrist. Maybe he would have cloned the fob himself. Any of those things are possible, but it would involve more time and effort, and introduce additional hurdles. If there is a process for obtaining a fob, maybe Lanza would not have met the burdens of the process. If he attacked his mother with a knife (because he couldn't use a gun), maybe she could have escaped and called the police.

            Or maybe it still would have happened. Is that a reason to not consider any policy change? No. Maybe new policies and technology can prevent or reduce the risk of OTHER tragedies.

            And if a hunter's gun doesn't fire when that nine point buck is in his sights, you're going to have one pissed off hunter who will never buy that brand of gun again.

            This is why I suggested limited the requirement of such technology to only certain weapons. E.g., we don't mandate it for bolt action rifles.

            But seriously, my main observation here is that so many people are spending lots of energy on inventing reasons for why nothing can be done.

        • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:35PM (#42351513)

          I find this to be an interesting sentiment coming from a technology oriented community like Slashdot.

          In my years in the tech industry, I've found that simple beats complex many times. Building a network without loops is more reliable than making one with loops and turning on STP. Having one high-quality router is more reliable than two in HA/VRRP/HSRP. Having one server is more reliable than two in a cluster (the clustering fails more often than any single server, lowering total reliability). Maybe a good bit of those problems are due to the proper usage being more complex, and those running them weren't sufficiently trained, but I've seen a lot more problems with complex redundancy than simple.

      • by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:49AM (#42348281) Homepage

        The loudest sound in the world:

        ``Hearing `click', when you expected to hear `bang'.''

      • What about all of the other legitimate uses of firearms? If someone has a bunch of pistols or rifles because they are a target shooter wouldn't all those complexities be a great way to mitigate accidental discharges? While you're target shooting (and maybe even hunting) you have plenty of time to move your finger to the right position or switch to left hand mode. Police can still use the "simple gun" since they are more likely to use it in a life/death situation than someone that hangs out at a gun range. H
      • "The supreme requirement in a firearm is RELIABILITY. "

        Absolutely. And the system described, according to their paper, in it's own words,

        "The average success rate is 89.44%."

        That's with a huge box of electronics attached to the gun via wires, in ideal, controlled conditions.

        The ONLY way I would even begin to want to own such a thing is if there were NO external encumbrances, and it worked at least 99.9999% of the time, under varied and chaotic conditions, and doesn't rely on flaky batteries.

    • Re:Safe guns (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alen (225700) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:52AM (#42347523)

      as someone who has spent 8 years in the army, the military is fanatical about firearms safety

      ammo is always kept separate from weapons. miles away in locked and guarded bunkers
      weapons are always locked in the arms room and inventoried any time the room is opened. by serial number
      heavy weapons like 50 caliber machine guns have their firing pins kept separate from the rest of the weapon

      at the firing range you only get ammo when its time to fire
      all weapons, even unloaded ones are considered loaded past a certain point close to the firing line
      all weapons always face down range. you never point a weapon at a person

      NO PERSONAL WEAPONS IN GOVERNMENT OWNED HOUSING

    • Re:Safe guns (Score:5, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:14AM (#42347805) Homepage Journal
      I'd also like to point out something that should be obvious even to a gamer who has never touched a real gun: not all gun manufacturers are in the USA. Why haven't European firearm manufacturers innovated these improvements? A grip safety might be an improvement on the Glock Safe Action. Legislating these changes in the USA is just another government power grab, because they know (and don't care) that the technology is not ready, so the end result is that law-abiding citizens will be kept from obtaining arms.
    • Are kind of missing the point. If you actually need to use a gun, you don't want a ton of hardware that will prevent it from firing when you pull the trigger.

      Exactly. And when the zombie apocalypse starts, I don't want any extra biometric crap stopping me from my right to clean up!

  • Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sarysa (1089739) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:32AM (#42347255)
    The author mostly had me with the first half of the article, then went overboard praising the Product Safety Commission and even worse, safety-related lawsuits. I'm glad guns are exempt -- many if not most product safety lawsuits are shining examples of why we need tort reform.
  • PLCAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:33AM (#42347269)

    is one of those obvious legalities that you would think you shouldnt have to have.

    It's like the family that sued Cessna after their father, with insufficient training, crashed and died. (I guess its not his fault he didnt know how to fly)
    Or the people who sue the bar for the drunk who rams their car. (i guess its not his fault he was too drunk to drive)
    Or the guy who cut off his finger on a table saw, and sued Sears for not including the tech that automagically stops the saw. (I guess its not his fault he put hs finger on a frigging saw blade)

    The MFR simply makes the product.
    The owner still carries full weight and responsibility for proper use and misuse.
    Shouldnt have to have a law to state that.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Could not agree more...

      I use various kinds of carpentry tools and yes they can be very dangerous if you don't use caution. Pisses me off seeing people being cavalier about safety when working with something dangerous like a saw, or electricity.

      Or worse when they blame the tool because they decided to disregard the various safety features and put their thumb in the path of the blade.

  • Gun Safes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:34AM (#42347299)

    We're basically talking about adding technology to made guns NOT WORK, which means you are just adding another potential layer of failure to prevent the weapon from working. You want to know what solves most of those problems?, gun safes, which won't add a single potential failure layer to the overall picture.

    Note: magazine safeties prevent you from clearing the firearm, which means you can't guarantee it's not loaded.

  • Buyers are picky. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brandorf (586083) <brandorf@brandorf.com> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:41AM (#42347387) Homepage
    Many gun owners seem to be particular about the amount and type of safety mechanisms they will accept on a gun. One good example is the key lock system that you see on Taurus and S&W Revolvers. It's just a small mechanism w/ special key that renders the gun inoperable if locked, and it is completely optional, however it's not difficult to see cases of individuals refusing to buy one for that reason alone, or looking to get a "pre-lock" version of the weapon.
    • by pongo000 (97357)

      I would not buy one for just that reason. A couple of Kahrs I own do not have safeties. But I have never "accidentally" fired off a round, because I'm rather meticulous about the 5 rules of gun safety:

      1. All guns are always loaded.
      2. Don't let the muzzle of the gun cross anything you're not prepared to shoot.
      3. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard, up on the frame of the gun, until the sights are on target and you're prepared to shoot.
      4. Always be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
      5. Maintain

  • by AntiBasic (83586) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:43AM (#42347407)

    http://imgur.com/Jinky

    Which one of these two guns should be banned and why?

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:49AM (#42347479) Homepage

    Since firearms accidents are quite rare (you're more than five times more likely to die in a fire than a gun accident [nsc.org], with just 600 out of 128,200 unintentional injury deaths in 2009 being from firearms), and "smart gun" technologies mostly would interfere with the ability to quickly deploy guns for defensive purposes, the call for these technologies ranges from well-intentioned ignorance to a back-door attempt to drive up the price of guns and make self-defense tools unavailable to poor people.

    • Target shooting is one of the safest sports a school-age kid can participate in. There are millions of injuries in school sports every year, hundreds of thousands requiring doctors, tens of thousands requiring hospital care, permenent disabling injuries and even deaths. Sports are a major cause of traumatic brain injury in kids. Shoulders and knees are being permanently damaged daily. Among the major sports players, something like 15-30% of kids will be injured at some point.

      But serious injuries involving s

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @09:56AM (#42347575)

    Two reasons:

    1) How can you make something "safe" that has the explicit purpose of being fatal
    2) therefore a gun NOT firing when needed is seen as a DECLINE in safety.

  • by sribe (304414) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:04AM (#42347683)

    The editor, timothy, corrected the egregious errors in the submission while letting the parts worthy of commentary and debate stand. He did what an editor is supposed to do! Maybe 12/22 will be the end of the world after all, and this is one of the first signs of the imminent apocalypse!

  • by suprcvic (684521) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:08AM (#42347727)
    Handlers are unsafe. There is no such thing as an "accidental discharge", there are only negligent discharges. Basic rules of firearm safety:
    1. 1. The gun is always loaded. Even if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are no rounds in the magazine or chamber, you always treat a gun as if it is loaded.
    2. 2. Never point a gun at anything you aren't willing to destroy.
    3. 3. Finger OFF the trigger until you are ready to fire.

    There are more, but those are the most basic and most important. Guns aren't responsible for violence anymore than cakes are responsible for fat people.

    • by DerPflanz (525793)

      Guns aren't responsible for violence anymore than cakes are responsible for fat people.

      I see this so often and I think it is inherently false. Case in point: Guns are designed to kill. Cakes (or cars, or ....) are not.

  • by Grand Facade (35180) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:38AM (#42348147)

    Guns are plenty safe just as they are.

    It takes a human to make them unsafe.

    In a crisis I want my gun to fire every time I pull the trigger.

    My sidearm has a de-cocker and can be dropped or even thrown with a round in the chamber safely.

    Say we are in a crisis situation, both pinned down behind cover, I don't have a shot, but you do.
    You have been shot in your dominant arm (or handicapped one armed) so you are unable to fiddle with a weapon.
    I can safely throw you my weapon with a round in the chamber ready to shoot, you can pick it up and shoot with no delay.
    Try that with some electronic gizmo......

  • by BCW2 (168187) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:47AM (#42348251) Journal
    There are 2 simple reasons why this isn't being done.
    1. Cost for the indentification unit is prohibitive. It would double the cost of the weapon.
    2. It has been proven over the years that you can not make something idiot proof. I don't care if it's a weapon or a power tool, some moron will always come along and try something nobody else ever imagined and injure themselves or someone else. Look at all the safety warnings in any instruction manual and realize that someone actually did that.

    Teaching people to have a respect for human life would do more to stop these mass killings than anything else. When I was in High School (class of 74) half the vehicles in the student parking lot were pickup trucks with a gun rack in the back window. There was always a rifle and/or a shotgun in the rack. We never had anyone shot at school because we knew the difference between right and wrong.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:48AM (#42349097) Homepage

    I worked for a place that had tried to develop electronics which were supposed to improve gun safety in such manners (for the record, whilst I wouldn't want them on any gun I own, I fully support anyone who wants the option on weapons they purchase). Turns out that actually shooting the gun is *very* hard on the electronics physically and led to many early failures (meaning the gun does not go bang when you need it to).

    Possibly it might be possibly to harden the electronics against such shocks but that's even more expense and complexity. Let's have some real R&D instead of pie-in-the-sky BSing.

  • by vga_init (589198) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:18PM (#42349513) Journal

    How about a handgun like the sword in the movie blade, that if you grip it and don't disable the booby-trap mechanism blades will swing out, disabling the person attempting to sue the weapon.

    In all seriousness, though, making guns safe is not all that difficult. I have a TT pistol made in Yugoslavia sometime in the early 1960's; in order to be sold in the US, a safety switch blocking the trigger had to be added. The safety switch was not necessary, though. First of all, the gun is single-action; you have to cock the hammer in order to fire the gun. The hammer has a half-cock, which does two things: it blocks the trigger (basically your safe-mode--you can't fire the gun), and it keeps the hammer off of the firing pin, so that if you dropped the gun it would not fire accidentally. On top of that, it has a magazine safety--if you remove the magazine from the gun, the trigger is blocked. This is particularly useful because many people assume that a gun without a magazine is unloaded, but there may still be a round in the chamber. In the case of this pistol, no magazine = no firing. If the hammer is pulled back and there is a round in the chamber, you can drop the magazine and prevent the gun from firing; then you can pull back the slide and eject the round. The hammer can also be manually decocked, which is very dangerous if the gun is loaded, but doable if for some reason you had to disarm it without ejecting all the ammo.

    My point here is that this gun, which is at least 50 years old, is actually very safe to handle and operate. I don't really think we need fancy technology and shooter-identification systems. Hell, the M1911 features a safety-grip so that you cannot pull the trigger unless you're firmly gripping the gun. To make guns safe, you just have to not do anything that is extremely stupid and you're fine. Don't keep a gun loaded when you don't have to. Adding safety features and technology won't prevent violent crimes--the shooter in the recent mass shooting was using a rifle that he purchased himself and was firing it intentionally, so no safety feature would have made a difference. People make a big deal about how the shooter used an AR-15, an "assault weapon," but in reality it was just a generic semi-automatic rifle. Any hunting or sport rifle could do the same, so in order to prevent shootings you'd basically have to ban all firearms of all kinds, and even with the ban shooters would still get and use them. I doubt a suicidal or insane shooter would care too much about breaking a firearm ban if he already had intentions of committing mass murder. Even with a bolt action rifle, he could have done the same or greater damage (bolt action = increased accuracy, better aiming).

  • HS Football: (Score:4, Informative)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @01:04PM (#42350095)

    While a lower rate (football alone) isn't American Football responsible for approximately 25 deaths or catastrophic injuries per year?

    (4+ direct deaths such as severed spines, 9+ indirect deaths like heart attacks, and an average of 13 injuries such as total paralysis)

    I'm not saying this as a plea to ban football in HS. (However, I think we do put our HS players in too much danger), but to illustrate that I believe people are wildly overreacting to the actual threat. Mass shootings average 100 deaths per year. That is an astonishingly small number when you factor in the population size, and when you also consider the risk due to things that are completely avoidable like HS football.

    The hysteria just bugs the hell out of me.

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