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A Look at Smart Gun Technology 765

An anonymous reader writes "Engadget takes a look at smart gun technology currently available and what the future might hold. From the article: 'While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved, there are a number of problems with the concept. Chief among those worries: the safety mechanism will fail when it's needed most. If you're relying on a weapon for defense, the last thing you want is another avenue for failure. Electronics aren't perfect. Sometimes cameras can't autofocus. Cable boxes freeze up when browsing the channel guide. The equivalent, seemingly small glitch in a smart gun could be the difference between life and death.'"
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A Look at Smart Gun Technology

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  • guns are stupid (Score:1, Interesting)

    by MossStan ( 2635555 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:44PM (#46980207) Homepage
    the phrase 'smart gun' is an oxymoron.
  • by thedonger ( 1317951 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:49PM (#46980273)

    If you are defending yourself with your smart gun and the person takes it away from you, I'm pretty sure that if they can't shoot you with it that they will still be able to beat you to death with it. And if they are the kind of person who can and will disarm someone then they probably can beat you up, too. Either way, I'll take my chances that someone else might get my gun over my gun not firing when I really need it to. I can train to deal with misfires, not with electronic malfunctions.

  • by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:50PM (#46980287)

    Sometimes cameras can't autofocus. Cable boxes freeze up when browsing the channel guide.

    But fly-by-wire airliners, military radios, targeting systems, medical implants, even Internet backbone routers all have absurdly high reliability stats and are all based on electronics, sensors and firmware.

    So don't buy your smart gun from a factory in China producing crap for Comcast or Sony. Buy it from someone who knows how to build high-reliability electronics for the military, like Siemens or ATK.

    Would you leave your house unlocked all the time because you might lose the key while you were being chased by a mugger? No, because on the other 30,000 days of your life burglars will come and go as they please. It's the same with a gun, where it is easily stolen or grappled from you before you use it, or worse, found by a child.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:13PM (#46980599)
    That specific scenario seems unlikely. Stolen guns being "unlocked" by professional gun traffickers on the other hand seems much more likely.

    To me, the big potential advantage of smart gun technology would be to decrease the black market for guns. If you have a gun and in a confrontation, it gets taken from you and you get shot, I don't really care to be honest. That's your problem. The societal problem I care about is criminals buying guns on the black market. If smart gun technology could make stolen guns useless, I'm all for it. It seems like guns used in crimes are generally stolen (judging from a google search, there's far more bullshit and propaganda than there is hard studies on the subject, and I'm not willing to spend time getting to the bottom of it to be sure).

    To me, it seems pretty unlikely that smart gun locks will do much of anything with the black market. Screen locks haven't really prevented a thriving black market for stolen smartphones. So I suspect that smart gun technology is pretty dumb for everyone but the patent holders and their lobbyists, and maybe REALLY incompetent gun owners.
  • Re:Flawed reasoning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:19PM (#46980681)

    It's all about the probabilities of various scenarios, and anyone failing to incorporate that that in their evaluation is not worth listening to.

    The probabilities might surprise you.

    It is true that police, for example, are shot more frequently than many people think with their own guns.

    On the other hand, that represents such a small percentage of overall gun confrontations that it is not very statistically significant.

    Statistically, the need to prevent "unauthorized" people from using your gun against you is vanishingly small. Yet for the sake of doing that, many people seem willing to compromise the ability to do something that is statistically vastly more likely: defend yourself with a gun.

    That is irrational.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:21PM (#46980701) Homepage Journal

    Marine corps are trained to handle firearms. The US is a scary place where you can get a half hour gun safety course and buy several Rugers.

    With your Marine Corps training, you probably think you could best me in a fist fight. You're probably pretty certain I won't just kick your ass, and then probably take your gun and shoot you. You've been trained for that situation, and I'm sure they actually kicked your ass a whole lot to make sure you were serious about trying to not get your ass kicked.

    The modal average civilian has a gun because he knows he can't kick my ass. He somehow believes I'll jump him and then get shot, somehow without noticing him reaching for his gun and then taking it from him. Considering most street criminals have more experience in gang fights than I, this reasons toward an even worse scenario.

    Besides, marines get swords.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:16PM (#46981511)
    I think it is less a solution looking for a problem, and more a solution to a dull problem with a sexy one getting more press. The chances of one's gun being used against them in an assault or home invasion is vanishingly low. However the chances of someone's gun getting into the hands of kids who play with it or a family member during a domestic dispute is pretty significant. Unfortunately talking about those issues tends to be marketing and political kryptonite and gets much less attention then the TV-worthy image of attackers and home defense.
  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:47PM (#46983457) Homepage Journal

    Yes. The argument often made for women not to carry firearms is that it'll be taken away from them and used against them.

    If they're willing to fire it, it's very, very hard to take a gun away from somebody if it's in their hands.

    Still, for a statistic on how many people are killed by their own weapons after being disarmed, I came up with a rate of 5% of police officers being murdered by their own weapon [fbi.gov], as an average over the last decade(25 out of 535).

    It's important to note that I figure that the guns were probably stolen out of the officer's holster, not out of his hands in most cases.

    Review of FBI reports on slain officers in 2012 shows that 1 officer is listed as being killed with his own weapon, however I did not find such in the narrative, but the FBI site mentions that not all cases have a publically available narrative, for various reasons. I only found one where such a system would have been helpful, [fbi.gov] which involved using a slain officer's weapon to injure a tow truck driver and 2 other officers(1 fatally).

    A corporal and a trooper with the West Virginia State Police, Clay County, were fatally wounded while preparing to transport a DUI suspect around 8 p.m. on August 28. The 42-year-old veteran corporal, who had nearly 17 years of law enforcement experience, was patrolling an interstate in a marked cruiser with the 26-year-old trooper, who had approximately 1.5 years' law enforcement experience. Following a report of a person driving a pickup truck in an erratic manner, the officers spotted the vehicle stopped in a âoepark and rideâ lot just off the interstate. (It was later revealed that the vehicle had been reported stolen earlier in the day, but it had not yet been entered into the National Crime Information Center at the time of the incident.) The driver, who was under the influence of narcotics at the time, was taken into custody. With hands cuffed in front of him, the suspect was placed in the back seat of the cruiser while the corporal and trooper searched his vehicle. When they got back in the cruiser (which was not equipped with a prisoner barrier), the suspect produced a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun he had hidden in his groin area. He shot the victim corporal twice in the rear of the head and the victim trooper in the neck/throat above his body armor. The suspect then unlocked his handcuffs, removed the victim corporal's .45-caliber handgun, and exited the cruiser. About this time, a tow truck the victims had requested arrived. The suspect shot the tow truck driver in the arm with the victim corporal's .45-caliber service weapon and fled the scene. The tow truck driver called for assistance and law enforcement officers from the Roane County and Clay County Sheriff's Departments as well as the Spencer Police Department responded. The tow truck driver, who was later treated for his wound and released, indicated the direction the suspect had fled and the officers began to search for him. As several deputies approached a ditch line, the suspect fired on them from a concealed position. A 43-year-old Roane County deputy, with nearly 4 years of law enforcement experience, was struck in both arms. The victim deputy was also struck in the front upper torso/chest and rear upper torso/back, but his body armor prevented the rounds from penetrating his torso. The officers returned gunfire at the 22-year-old suspect and justifiably killed him. The suspect had a prior criminal record, which included violent crime, drug violations, and police assault. The victim corporal was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident; the victim trooper and the victim deputy were taken to a medical center by helicopter. The victim deputy underwent sur

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