"Smart" Guns: A Story of A Girl

Slight of build and short of stature, Cara had been picked on for as long as she could remember. She’d kept the resulting anger bottled up inside, the pressure building, for years. Yesterday’s incident in the 11th grade hallway where Shawna intentionally pushed her into an open locker door, splitting her lip, was simply the final straw.


Cara’s mother kept her firearms in a safe with an electronic lock. Cara had discovered the code for the lock while rummaging through her mother’s sock drawer weeks ago.

The 9mm pistol inside the safe was a “smart gun.” It only worked if the user’s thumb-print matched a list of authorized users. Luckily, her mother had made her an authorized user when they were at the range last summer. Cara picked up the gun, checked to verify that a round was chambered and that the magazine was loaded before putting it in a holster that she slipped into the front of her pants. She loaded the two spare magazines for the pistol—in her state, you could only have seven rounds in each magazine—and dumped them in her book bag. Her mother’s other handgun, a .40-caliber pistol, had an RFID-activated chip in it just like the local police used, and required the use of a watch with an embedded code. It also required that a four-digit code be punched in immediately before use. Fortunately for Cara, her mother had written down that code on the same piece of paper that held the code for the lock. Cara carefully printed the four-digit code on her right wrist, put on the watch, and covered both with her jacket sleeve before slipping the gun into her jacket pocket. Five spare magazines went into her other jacket pocket. She looked at the clock on the wall. It was time for school.

* * *

Danielle Landry had been a school resource officer at Carver High for three years, and knew most of the students, faculty, and staff… at least as well as one can in a high school a student body of 900 kids. 


She was standing outside school’s entrance facing the student parking lot, as she was every morning. A group of female students were loitering near a car with the radio blaring, and she sighed. Almost every morning she had to tell Shawna and her friends that they couldn’t hang out in the parking lot before classes, and that they needed to go inside to their homerooms. She started walking up to tell them to move along, when she noted that a thin kid with a brown jacket was walking up to them as well, doing something with a watch on her wrist… a watch just like—

The group of kids hadn’t registered Cara’s approach—no one ever noticed her—and the barrel was just six inches from the back of Shawna’s head when she pulled the trigger and it seemed that everything exploded at once. Shawna’s friends instinctively ducked at the sound of the shot and the spray of blood, but were too stunned to flee, and She was too close. She shot another, and then a third before Shawna’s lifeless body had stopped twitching on the ground. The fourth girl was just turning to flee when Cara shot her through the side and back, driving her to her knees. Cara fired again and was surprised to find the bullet missed, but it didn’t matter. The girl gurgled, and fell over, gasping for breath from shredded lungs.

SRO Landry drew her .40-caliber issued pistol and ran towards Cara, who was now quartering away from her, standing over the students she’d just shot in a growing pool of blood. Cara was taking her time as she changed magazines. Landry stopped just seven yards away and took aim at the center of Cara’s torso and squeezed the trigger, waiting for the shot to break… and nothing. Landry had forgotten to enter the four digit code on the RFID watch on her wrist to activate the pistol, which glowed red… not ready to fire. “Dammit.”


Cara heard the muffled curse and turned, her gun rising to track with her eyes. She’d liked Officer Landry enough, she guessed, but Landry was trying to punch in the code in her watch to activate the same kind of handgun Cara was now pointing at her, and wasn’t having any luck. Landry was trying to shoot her, Cara realized. She smiled, and laughed a little under her breath. Landry wasn’t having much luck.

Landry heard the soft laugh and looked up from the watch, three of four digits of the PIN code entered. She never saw the muzzle flash…

Other students in the parking lot were screaming and running in all directions. The cafeteria was crowded this time of morning, and Cara had two guns and plenty of ammunition. She broke into a trot, feeling free and powerful for the first time in her life… 

The scenario above is fictional, and hopefully it will always remain so.

It was written to point out two truths.

ONE: Given time, technology—no matter how clever—can be defeated, and is often defeated by the simplest of means.

TWO: Technologically complex items always seems fails when it is needed most. This is why professionals opt for the most simple and reliable weapon systems available. This is why the military and police forces utterly refuse to consider “smart” guns. They need to be able to pick up any firearm, and make it fire, 100% of the time. So does anyone else that chooses a gun for self-defense.

Computerizing firearms creates a high level of technological complexity. Systems that require complexity introduce unnecessary failure points, and in the case of smart guns, may cost lives… many lives.


Smart guns are simply not wanted by knowledgeable shooters, and the desire for them seems to come only from those who are afraid of all firearms, and who desire control over others. You can rest assured that like every modern technology, “smart” guns will be built with a government “backdoor” enabling these arms to be deactivated by authorities.

One might even reasonably suspect that being able to disarm everyone with the push of a button is precisely the goal of those who champion such technology.

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