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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns' 814

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the think-about-little-johnny dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The technology is here. So-called 'smart guns' are being programmed to recognize a gun owner's identity and lock up if the weapon ends up in the wrong hands. Entrepreneurs and engineers have been developing technology to make safer guns since the early '90s, and by now we've got working prototypes of guns that read fingerprints, hand grips or even sensors embedded under the skin. But after 15 years of innovation, personalized guns still haven't penetrated the marketplace."
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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

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  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:05AM (#44294089) Homepage

    They can't figure out why? The guns are obviously smarter than their inventors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Everyone take a deep breath. The manufacturers do know they aren't going to be big sellers. Some people are interested in the technology developed. Like Android with the face-recognition for unlocking your phone, it's kind of an advertising gimmick that no one actually uses. Or you could put a physical Yale lock on a phone, make it very secure, right? But it's not really that useful. No need to get angry over it, just not working right now.

      • Re:Smart guns... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:04PM (#44297913) Homepage

        For the manufacturer, it's also a political maneuver. They can say "we made smart guns!" and maybe get some politicians off their back for a little while.

        And it's obvious why people don't actually buy them. Pay $$$ extra for finicky biometrics which are at least as likely to impede you as they are to assist you? I'll get right on that.

    • Re:Smart guns... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mister Transistor (259842) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:20AM (#44294173) Journal

      Why is very simple, people don't trust them. They use technology to prevent a simple mechanical device from working, which do you think is more likely to break?

      Guns are life-saving devices when used by the police or military. Murphy's Law says it all, and if their life-saving device won't function for whatever reason they are dead. Period.

      Then there is also the old remote-control problem like using a magnetic or EM/RFI field to jam the gun's mechanism and render it useless remotely, but I'm sure they already addressed this, right? Right?

      Bottom line is no one trusts the technology, it's too new, unproven, and an introduction of multiple points of failure in an otherwise tested and time-proven technology.

      • by geirlk (171706) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:34AM (#44294229)

        If Murphy had used a smart gun, he wouldn't have been shot with his own gun.

        On the other hand, he then wouldn't have become Robocop neither.

      • Re:Smart guns... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by philip.paradis (2580427) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:21AM (#44294443)

        Guns are life-saving devices when used by responsible citizens employed in any occupation to stop an immediate threat to the life of an innocent person.

        Fixed that for you.

      • Re:Smart guns... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Drakonblayde (871676) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:57AM (#44294623)

        You've got it right in one. The biggest issue is one of trust. I don't trust the gun to not screw up when I need it the most.

        I don't trust the technology to work when the gun needs to be rekeyed to a new owner upon resale (assuming that's even possible. Wouldn't surprise me if the intial models are imprint once and that's it). Or when I want to rent a gun and test fire it before I purchase.

        I don't trust the technology to not have some kind of back door making the firearm able to be disabled, even when I'm the keyed owner and I pull the trigger.

        As for safety... give me a break. My first firearms instructor put it best 'Your finger is the safety'. If I put my finger on the trigger, it means the discharge of my weapon is imminent unless circumstances change *really* quick.

        About the only way this will work is for manufacturers to offer it as a cheaper alternative (aka, the Android business model) in order to spur adoption, and then increase cost as it became more mainstream.

        The vast majority of firearms deaths are caused by people pulling the trigger on purpose, and a smart gun does nothing to prevent that decision.

        • by gr8_phk (621180)

          I don't trust the technology to not have some kind of back door making the firearm able to be disabled, even when I'm the keyed owner and I pull the trigger.

          This is entirely possible. An EMP directed at your smart gun may very well disable it. This and the other reliability issues are exactly why you don't see the police using them.

      • They use technology to prevent a simple mechanical device from working....

        They use technology to enable a device to work under certain circumstances. This wording is more accurate and helps to make the issue more clear. It's more evident that if the technology should fail, it won't enable the device to work when needed. This could be anything from a misread fingerprint to a dead battery.

        I'm surprised slashdot doesn't regularly make the analogy to DRM which upon failure (or server shutdown) prevents peopl

    • The problem is there are two sides of stupid who feel if they meet on a middle ground they are loosing something.

      The gun control debate and the abortion debate are in essence part of a core debate.
      Is life and safety more important than liberity.

      Both issues have seemed to become so polarized that logical debate has broken down.

      There are thing like the parent post who say "I disagree with your views, so you must have a mental problem" but the problem it is on both sides. We are no longer considering the human

  • Darwin (Score:5, Funny)

    by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:11AM (#44294133)

    Any technology that prevents the accidental death of irresponsible gun owners' children is simply interfering with natural selection.

  • Boom (Score:2, Insightful)

    The idea of having your kids not be able to blow their brains out with your gun seems like quite a good one...
    • Re:Boom (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:26AM (#44294197)

      Trigger locks and safes will do the same thing, and not mess up and get you killed when you need it to work.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Trigger locks and safes will do the same thing, and not mess up and get you killed when you need it to work.

        Yeah... they would be better off making the hand reader a feature of a gun safe, to provide owners an option for faster access to their guns, than having to enter a combination.....

        In addition, they could add the 'enter combination option' as a backup

      • Re:Boom (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Drakonblayde (871676) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @07:15AM (#44294693)

        The better alternative is to educate children on the fact that guns are dangerous.

        One of my friends tells the story of how her dad educated her on the dangers of guns.

        When she was a little girl, one day he came and got her and her favorite stuffed animal, a big floppy bear.

        He nailed the bear to a tree.

        And then he shot it at relatively close range with a 12 gauge on full choke. The bear pretty much exploded.

        Cruel? Undeniably so (her dad is kind of an asshole). Effective? Damn straight.

        While I certainly wouldn't advocate for doing possibly psychological damage to your children by blowing up their favorite toys, I think something along the lines of a pumpkin or watermelon substitute would get the point across just as well.

    • Re:Boom (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DarkTempes (822722) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:37AM (#44294237)
      I suspect the problem is that gun safes and gun locks are better and more reliable.

      Anything that's 'smart' and portable probably uses a battery and batteries die.
      In the event that one actually needs a gun (which should be rather rare) you don't want to find out the battery is dead.

      Now, a biometric/rfid/"smart" gun case or gun lock might be an improvement over traditional key locks. Maybe.
      • by jeremyp (130771)

        I'm not a fan of guns myself and would never carry one for self defence, even if I was allowed to in my country, but, if a country is going to allow its citizens to carry guns, then a prerequisite is surely that they practice with their weapons at the range on a regular basis. If you are in the situation of actually needing your gun, you are likely to be under extreme stress and if you are not intimately familiar with every aspect of operating your weapon, it'll probably end badly.

        Anyway, the point is that

    • Re:Boom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:53AM (#44294299) Journal

      The idea of having your kids not be able to blow their brains out with your gun seems like quite a good one...

      obviously you aren't able to field strip a gun..... anybody who keeps an handgun whole, with a colocated loaded clip in a house with kids has it coming. and you can reassemble an handgun very quickly if the need arises, or not at all if the threat is so sudden that it would not have helped in any case.

      when my adolescent son took to softair, I took the opportunity to teach him what he really needed to know. gun safety procedures, even if it is a toy: proper handling. unless you are live, keep the finger out of the trigger guard, and the rifle pointing down. Keep the weapons on safe all the time, until the game begins, and put them on safe immediately after. NEVER, NEVER point a gun at something you are not shooting.

      It's like safety belts in cars: train until you cannot behave differently from the proper way, and you'll have an head start.

    • Well, we're talking types who think they absolutely need a loaded gun everywhere they might be in the house, including racks by the bed and whatnot. And that their life WILL depend on it any day now, when squads of evil government black muslim communist ninjas will burst into their home to confiscate their bible and replace their medicare with an evil socialized one. And their kids who think that playing cops and robbers with daddy's gun, presumbaly in between eating paint chips and being homeschooled in ho

  • Three things... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flentil (765056) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:24AM (#44294187) Homepage

    1: Don't need another point of failure introduced, if the reader doesn't recognize it's owner at the worst possible moment when he needs to fire a gun.
    2: Price hike. I expect there would be a hefty price jump with these newfangled electronic gizmos.
    3: Remote killswitch? The police can kill your car's engine and disable your gun with a simple command. So can hackers.

    Also, are batteries included? I don't think people want to charge up their guns, unless they're shooting plasma bolts.

  • by zippo01 (688802) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:27AM (#44294201)
    Why would anyone buy this? Its a horrible product idea. Take a reliable device and fuck with it. All I want is to know that when I point and click it goes off. Not, my hand isn't held right, the battery is dead, i'm in a fight and its covered in mud, or its just dusty and it malfunctions. Or even worse and a delay, which could cause you to be off target or allow someone else to enter the sight picture. It is a self defeating idea. If you are worried about child protection, buy a safe, teach your kid gun safety. Carry it with you. I could go on for ever.
    • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:26AM (#44294475) Homepage
      People won't because they'll stick to the simplified, knee-jerk, kind of logic that you do there.

      If a smart gun worked 99.5% of the time when you held it and never worked if you didn't then you are trading a 1/200 chance of the gun not firing when you want it for the complete removal of it being used against you or by someone else who you didn't want to. Given that the standards smart gun manufacturers work to are actually higher than that the risk of a properly maintained smart gun failing is negligible.

      The statistics are clear: gun ownership causes more deaths among the family that owns it (child deaths, gun used by attacker etc) than it prevents by protection. Unless someone is considerably more responsible, trained and competent than the average owner having a gun in your health increases risk. A smart gun could actually change that calculation, though frankly given the number of intentional family killings by owners I doubt it would make gun owning households safer on average.
      • Gun makers have another problem. Guns rarely fail. I have a Mosin–Nagant from 1890's. It still works perfectly today. They are already worried about gun sales. Not because of legislation but because most gun buyers are already gun owners. They worry that eventually the market will shrink as no new buyers get into the gun ownership game.

        For me, I need to know those electronics will last and work (and parts made for) the next 200 years. I want my kids to inherit my guns. Currently every firearm I own wi

  • Duh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:27AM (#44294205) Homepage Journal

    They are a stupid fucking idea that are the answer to a question nobody asked. Well nobody other than those who ultimately wish to take all guns from people not employed by the government.

    For those who think I'm wrong and that these should be mandatory, why don't you go lobby the government (at any level from local to federal) and have some of these technologies mandated for LEO fire arms use. Report back with your results.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:29AM (#44294211)

    For those who aren't in the gun culture it may come as a surprise that gun owners tend to be a somewhat conservative lot when it comes to new technologies. They prefer things that are reliable and proven to gimmicks, especially for their go-to guns, because at the end of the day they want to be absolutely sure that their guns will fire reliably and immediately whenever the safety is off and they pull the trigger. Anything that might possibly interfere with that, like smart guns or RFID bracelets and rings or crap like that, is most unwelcome indeed. Oh sure, you'll find the occasional gadget fetishist at the gun shows, but they're the exception rather than the rule in my experience.

  • Of course, what we actually need is not a gun that responds only to its original owner, but on that can determine whether said owner is mentally sound enough to own said gun or not. In fact, what we need is for there to be a system in place that does exactly that. Changing the way the tool works is irrelevant. If someone is unhinged enough, they'll go and pick up another gun for $20 behind a dumpster somewhere.
  • by Gravis Zero (934156) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:09AM (#44294391)

    a gun is a large responsibility. smart guns are an attempt to remove that responsibility. if you are irresponsible then you should not have a gun. if you dont know if you are responsible enough to own a gun then you are not.

    before someone tries to compare it to owning a car, i would like to point out that a gun is specifically for killing. it has no other function, it's literally a killing machine.

    i have yet to hear an argument for making crossbows safer yet it serves the same purpose as a gun. if it is somehow intrinsically safer then why aren't people advocating crossbows over guns?

  • by EvilSS (557649) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @07:27AM (#44294757)
    If the police, who would benefit greatly from this technology, don't trust it why should anyone else?
  • by wired_parrot (768394) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:21AM (#44295749)

    I know people will try to make this an issue about gun regulation, but ultimately this just boils downs to market economics.

    People who are in favour of gun regulation, and who would be for this type of device, by and large simply don't buy guns.

    People who do buy guns - sportsmen, hunters, and other gun enthusiasts - tend to be against greater regulation, especially if it will additional costs in the purchase of their firearm.

    The type of person who would buy these "smart guns" - a gun enthusiast who's willing to pay more to have more control on their firearms - is going to be very small at best. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone that these guns weren't going to sell...

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:30AM (#44295863)

    Cops are trained to handle their weapon properly, including responsible use (hopefully) and storage of that weapon. A cop that loses their gun, or lets their gun fall into the wrong hands does not last very long as a cop. If there was a huge issue where cops were losing or allowing their gust to be used by the wrong people, this speaks to a need to revamp the entire law enforcement industry, NOT adopt a safe weapon.

    There is ABSOLUTELY no market for this "safe gun" for law enforcement. Any technology that might cause a gun to fail in a situation that requires split second decision making is not going to be a product tolerated by law enforcement.

    Anyone saying that law enforcement is already adopting this technology OR that the market for this technology is law agencies are lying and/or woefully out of touch with reality.

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