The Obama Administration is once again pushing a gun control plot not-so-cleverly disguised as a “gun safety” initiative.
Curiously, you won’t see the National Rifle Association (NRA) or the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) opposing the development of so-called “smart gun” technology, and would only oppose laws (like one existing law in New Jersey) that would mandate their use to the exclusion of other firearms designs.
What are “smart guns?”
What President Obama and his allies in the gun control movement have dubbed “smart guns” are firearms that have been augmented with technology that restricts who may use the firearm. There have been numerous attempts to create so-called “smart guns” over the past 30 years, but as mentioned in the Obama Administration’s own report, the tens of millions of dollars of public and private funds poured into “smart gun” development have yet to produce a commercially successful design, and none of the “smart gun” designs developed have been both reliable and secure.
“Smart guns” development seems to have has trod two separate paths, one based upon mechanical/magnetic locking devices, and the other based on microprocessor designs.
The original attempts at “smart gun” technology developed many decades ago involved the user wearing a ring with a strong magnet embedded in it to pull a magnetized internal safety out of the way for the gun to fire. The system was nowhere near as reliable as a regular firearm, was not truly “smart” (anyone with a magnet could activate it), and could readily be removed from the gun if stolen.
More modern attempts at smart-guns rely upon various computerized solutions. The two most common avenues of development are print-reader and short-range RFID signal broadcasts.
Why don’t shooters want smart guns?
There have been multiple problems with every smart gun technology developed so far.
The most glaring and obvious problem is one of reliability. Smart guns simply fail to work a stunning percentage of the time, in a device that must have 99.9% reliability in difficult and violent encounters. Print-readers fail 100% of the time when the user needs to wear gloves (which can be both weather-related or based upon the requirement/desire to wear gloves as personal protective gear), and fail an unacceptably high percentage of the time if the shooter’s hand becomes injured, or if the shooter’s hand is covered in blood, sweat, mud, dirt, debris, etc.
Put bluntly, print-readers are most likely to fail when you need them the most.
Print-reader technology is also disturbingly easy to hack, no harder than steaming open an envelope to read the letter inside.
The competing RFID-based systems are proximity-based, and typically require the gun to be within 8″-10″ of a device worn either as a ring or a watch. There are two deadly flaws with RFID based systems that render them too dangerous to be used in self-defense firearms. The first is that it restricts the user to using just one hand to fire the gun, despite the fact that users may be called upon to switch hands to use the firearm for any number of reasons, including (but not limited to) injury to the primary hand, the need to push, pull, or hold someone with that hand, or the need to use cover. The most advanced RFID-equipped “smartgun” on the market, the Armatix iP1, fails hand to hand hand unsupported transitions 100% of the time.
All RFID-equipped guns also fail in their primary duty; stopping officers from being killed with their own guns during struggles over firearms. Nearly 10-percent of officers shot in the line of duty are shot with their own firearm during a takeaway, and an RFID-equipped smart gun will still fire in a criminal’s hand as the criminal and officer struggle over the gun, as long as the RFID is within operational range.
All of these computer-based technologies are also very fragile, sensitive to hard blows and normal recoil impulses, and can be rendered inoperable by simple battery failure.
These problems defeat the purpose of having so-called smart guns in the first place.
In addition to smart gun technology failing to work reliably, there is also the inescapable fact that “smart guns” are incredibly expensive. The Armatix system cost 3-5 times as much as the common handguns used by police.
Why would you pay 5x as much for something that’s less reliable?
In the end, users want the most reliable firearm they can get for the least amount of money. Every single smart gun design proposed or even partially realized in the past decades of public and private research have been fragile, easy to hack, expensive, and unreliable.
Purchasers are no more interested in buying these weapons than they would be a $200,000 “economy car” that fails to start consistently, and which doesn’t have the acceleration or range of your average car already on the market.
Where’s the market?
Indeed, there is no viable commercial market for smart guns in United States.
Civilians don’t want smart guns.
Law Enforcement agencies don’t want smart guns.
The military clearly doesn’t want smart guns.
Quite literally, the only people who are driving for the adoption of smart guns are those least likely to buy them: gun control supporters. They only support smart guns as something they can impose on other people, hoping to use the expensive cost of such systems to drive gun ownership out of the economic reach of most people. It isn’t about safety for them, but about restricting rights.