back to article Smart guns are a neat idea on paper. They'll never survive reality

A bright-eyed MIT undergraduate implausibly branded "the Mark Zuckerberg of guns" has recycled an age-old solution looking for a problem – the smart gun. Kai Kloepfer, the undergrad lad in question, received a $50,000 grant from the American Smart Tech Challenges Foundation in 2014 to develop his idea of a Beretta pistol …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

    The various 'smart gun' schemes fail on a number of issues, almost axiomatically.

    In the case of this fingerprint reader stupidity, these include

    1. Increased complexity and decreased reliability... leading to decreased safety for the user.

    2. Delay in operation - as noted, this can increase risks to user, and reduce utility.

    3. Increased cost.

    4. Will not work while wearing gloves.

    5. Potential failure of locking / authentication system (may fire anyway), leading to a false sense of security and, likely, accidents.

    6. May fail to function for other family members in an emergency.

    7. Susceptible to failure due to battery depletion or low voltage, particularly in extreme cold temperatures.

    1. Jim Mitchell Silver badge

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      4. Methods that rely on proximity rather than a fingerprint would work with gloves. Some proposed methods are a ring. If your opponent can get that from you, they could probably take your finger as well.

      5. If having a "smart gun" leads you to have an "accident' with your firearm, you should not have a dumb one either. Not a good argument.

      7. If you don't properly maintain your firearm anyways, you won't maintain the "smart gun" feature. Not a good argument.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        But what if you inject some Cortana AI into this?

        "Why not ask me about gun safety protocols?"

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        @Jim Mitchel Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Clearly you don't own firearms or know anything about them.

        The author went on about some kid at MIT who was reinventing the fingerprint scanner on the gun.

        You blather about the RFID tag in a ring or bracelet or something else used to unlock the gun.

        Neither system will work in real life.

        In terms of gun safety... there are gun safes that either use a combination lock, rfid card or rfid ring. Secures the gun in the home and its ready for use when needed.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Any type of electronic method will be an issue.

        Gloves are a big problem. As is mud etc. Might a proximity device solve this? Likely not since the user then needs devices on both hands (must be able to use your non-dominant hand in an emergency; you practice that at the range right?)

        Likewise, for police, all officers prints should really be in each and every gun of a department. That is a lot of prints for the big departments. The supposed safety aspect is very small and IMHO reduces safety.

        So.. the truth is guns are already safe.

        Accidental shootings are almost always the users fault; be that the handler (I thought it was unloaded and shot my friend) or the owner (I failed to properly store the firearm away from children). It is not the users fault if there is a malfunction, which is rare and should never result in an accidental shooting since the firearm should not be pointed at anyone.

        Firearm safety comes down to training which means we need the NRA back in the public classroom teaching firearm safety.

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      8. Gummi bears

      P.S. That pic, finger on the trigger and pointed up? Clearly showing how to not handle a firearm.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Eddy Ito:

        I agree, it's not exactly a gun safety brochure but it really is okay. The weapon featured in the picture is a Weihrauch HW40PCA, probably the feeblest handgun in the world. Struggles to punch through a paper target at 10metres. A point-blank hit would probably just bounce off your eyelid. Even if it was loaded, it'd do more damage if you accidentally dropped it on your foot.

    3. Truckle The Uncivil

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      1. Increased complexity and decreased reliability... leading to decreased safety for the user.

      Yes, they said this about automatics when revolvers were in common use. It was a bad argument then and it is a bad argument now.

      2. Delay in operation - as noted, this can increase risks to user, and reduce utility.

      Ever hear of target identification? It takes time. People kill friends and relatives because they do not take that time. Might stop a few guys killing their daughters when they sneak home via the window,

      3. Increased cost.

      Will not be significant if produced in volume.

      4. Will not work while wearing gloves.

      Why is that a bad thing? How many people try to use short arms wearing gloves. Most cases where you would be wearing gloves you would be using long arms.

      5. Potential failure of locking / authentication system (may fire anyway), leading to a false sense of security and, likely, accidents.

      This would be designed to fail safe i.e.. Not fire unless 'it' was sure it was being instructed to do so by an authorised user. There will be no false sense of security or accidents. It might not fire when you want (possible flaw, yes) but it will not fire when you do not want it to. Engineering can guarantee that as much as it can for any firearm.

      6. May fail to function for other family members in an emergency.

      If it works for you it is going to work for them. Or the ones you have decided you can trust with the weapon.

      7. Susceptible to failure due to battery depletion or low voltage, particularly in extreme cold temperatures.

      Err, not really. Maintain your weapons or do not posses any. Is that not a legal requirement of a license holder anyway? Extreme cold? You know what extreme cold does to metal clearances don't you? Do you want to quote me the safe operating temperatures of some pistols and electronics? Look at them, read them.

      Most of your points are really scratching for a case. The only valid thing against them is reliability and that gets sorted real quick (as it did for automatics vs revolvers).

      What argument apart from prejudice do you have?

      FWIW. Australian, approve of our restrictive gun laws (for us!), do not own a weapon but had a marksman rating and enjoyed shooting when I did it.

      (Sorry about this nasty moralistic point) Owning a killing machine is not about freedom since its major consequences are responsibilities to others your freedom actually diminishes.

      Also sorry about my manners but seeing violent death marks you.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        @Truckie ... Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Wow. I can tell you don't own or know anything about guns.

        Let's go point by point...

        "1. Increased complexity and decreased reliability... leading to decreased safety for the user.

        Yes, they said this about automatics when revolvers were in common use. It was a bad argument then and it is a bad argument now."

        No, they didn't. In terms of guns, the revolver is the most reliable and least likely to fail. In terms of pistols, they are for the most part very reliable and safe if well maintained. The key thing about a firearm is that you want it to go bang when you pull the trigger. The 1911 and Luger pistol have been around for over 100 years. I'd say that the design is well proven.

        "2. Delay in operation - as noted, this can increase risks to user, and reduce utility.

        Ever hear of target identification? It takes time. People kill friends and relatives because they do not take that time. Might stop a few guys killing their daughters when they sneak home via the window,"

        I don't know if you realize how dumb you sound. Anyone who's gone thru any gun safety or defensive handgun class will tell you that you don't shoot unless your life is clearly in danger. Where the delay in operation can kill you is if you are in a CCW situation and you have to clear leather. You don't have 1.5 seconds when you reach to get your gun. Even if the armed assailant has a 'safe gun' his is in his hand and he's ready to shoot. Bang, you're dead.

        "3. Increased cost.

        Will not be significant if produced in volume."

        That's your guess. And the Epi-pen prices shouldn't have risen 500% in the past 2 years either.

        "4. Will not work while wearing gloves.

        Why is that a bad thing? How many people try to use short arms wearing gloves. Most cases where you would be wearing gloves you would be using long arms."

        Again, you don't shoot. You have no clue about why anyone would wear gloves when shooting. Free clue. I wear gloves when I go to the gun range and work through my skills and drills. If you have to ask why, you've never seriously shot a pistol. And that's just at the range. If you're in a tactical situation you always have gloves on. Some LEOs wear kevlar gloves.

        "5. Potential failure of locking / authentication system (may fire anyway), leading to a false sense of security and, likely, accidents.

        This would be designed to fail safe i.e.. Not fire unless 'it' was sure it was being instructed to do so by an authorised user. There will be no false sense of security or accidents. It might not fire when you want (possible flaw, yes) but it will not fire when you do not want it to. Engineering can guarantee that as much as it can for any firearm."

        Wow. more complete nonsense. Do you know what a hang fire is? There are a lot of bad things that can happen when a firearm malfunctions. Before you go talking you need to run a lot of rounds and different types of ammo. BTW, the kid's demo pistol is a .22. What happens when you start fire real guns. You know .40, 10mm , +Ps ... When the electronics fail ... what happens? The point is you don't know you're guessing.

        I can go down the list and I can say that you clearly don't have a clue about guns, gun safety and defensive handgun techniques.

        Please do us a favor and take an actual gun safety class and get some hands on experience.

        1. Gay Gunowner

          Re: @Truckie ... 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure


          As another gun owner, Yes to all your points.

          And to those that think otherwise, please tell us again: how, and by how much, will smart guns make us safer?

          Hardware stores sell components to make firearms. No machine shop or expensive tools needed to make them as shown in various online videos. Or one can spend a few dollars more to make or buy finished parts. Ammo is easy to make. Many of us save money by making ammo or create custom loads for precision shooting.

          Criminals don't seem troubled by laws. Like prohibition, war on drugs, etc, efforts to restrict supply (rather than demand) are doomed to fail. Suicide accounts for almost 2 of every 3 gun fatalities in the US. Smart guns won't change that statistic.

          While smart gun research is worthwhile, we can save more lives and more quickly by other means. Chicago's police chief blames their shocking violence rate on revolving door justice that releases felons. California's Auditor reports that over 275,000 names are in the Armed Prohibited Persons database. Yet there appears to be little to intercept them or their guns.

      2. gibbleth

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Hoo boy. Let's see.

        1. I *STILL* don't use a semi-automatic because they *STILL* aren't as reliable as revolvers. Oh, well, guess I don't know what I'm talking about, as my gun doesn't even have a mechanical safety, it being a revolver, and, as the adage goes, 'the whole gun is the safety'. I need my defensive gun to always work whether I maintain it or not, so I have a revolver.

        2. Let's talk about the 'rule of threes': 'three seconds, three yards, three rounds'. Nearly all defensive uses of firearms will be over in three seconds, happen at a range of under three yards, and use three or fewer rounds. Given that this thing takes a leisurely second and a half to work, that's fully half of the *AVERAGE* time it takes to end an engagement. Gunfighting is furiously quick and seconds count.

        3. If mandated, it will increase the cost of the defensive gun. Some guns will go up by quite a bit. Possibly enough to put the cheapest guns out of the hands of the people who can least afford to be without one, the poor in bad neighborhoods.

        4. I guess the state of Idaho has not occurred to you. My relatives who used to live there bought a massive pistol precisely because they needed something to carry during the winter that wasn't a rifle. Most modern combat pistols and nearly all revolvers work fine without gloves because, well, it's often cold outside, and some of us refuse to let our fingers freeze off because you are ill-informed.

        5. Sure, 'designed to fail safe' means it is prejudiced against working, which is worse.

        6. So you have to make everyone in the house put their finger on the thing and learn how to hold it just right so it might fire if needed? Meh.

        7. I do *NOT* have a 'license' to own a gun, living, as I do, in the land of the free. I live in Tejas. I *DO* have a license to carry a concealed firearm, but there is *NO* requirement anywhere in there that I should 'maintain' my gun to any particular standard. It is assumed I'm not an idiot so will see to adequate maintenance, but that's pretty much oiling periodically and cleaning after firing, neither of which are strictly required for the operation of the pistol. Seriously, if a modern firearm won't work after being left in a closet for a few years, it's not a good firearm. The days of guns turning into rust when you leave them alone for a year or two are long gone. I can leave any of my defensive pistols in the closet or in a safe for months on end without firing them and know for certain they will fire when I need them to. This 'device' can't meet that *REQUIREMENT* as a defensive pistol needs to always, always, always go bang when needed. Imagine a fire extinguisher that required a battery to work and you see the problem...

        Funny thing that you are partly correct in that the freedom to own a firearm does restrict your other freedoms. There are places I can't go when carrying. I can't drink alcohol when carrying. However, you are completely wrong about your moralistic high road, as I don't have a gun to kill someone else; I have a gun to prevent that from happening, whether upon my person or upon some other person. If you've ever studied actual firearm combat, you'll know that the point isn't to kill someone else but to stop them, unless you're an assassin.

        That being said, in my opinion, a government that does not allow its citizens the right to self-defense is a government that has subjects, not citizens.

        I will make one more comment, and that is to point out that the major shooting you had in Australia makes grim reading. Nobody made an effort to stop the man because everyone felt that it was up to the authorities.

        We had a shooting in Tejas a long time ago, in Austin. Quite a few people were killed, but not as many as would have been if it weren't for armed citizens. First, there were many people in the crowd armed with .357 Magnum revolvers that could shoot high enough to be useful against the man's position in a tower. These people bravely drove him to cover, which allowed many people to get medical attention and reduced his field of fire such that he couldn't shoot as many people. Second, many of the people in the crowd had rifles in their vehicles and brought those out, making it that much harder for him to do his worst. Third, the three people that put an end to his spree consisted of two sheriff's deputies and a guy off the street. Those three charged up the tower and shot him.

        I know it seems to be backwards, but Sandy Hook was the reason I finally went and got my concealed handgun license. I could not stand by and watch my children get shot if there was anything I could do about it. While I appreciate that you and those who think like you think it's a moral issue, to me, it's a personal issue: I have to, as a man, defend my family and provide them with the means to defend themselves. And, to quote the article, 'when seconds matter, police are minutes away'.

        And I would point out that this is a *VERY* common theme: the anti-gunners have theoretical knowledge of guns while the pro-gun people have actual experience with them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

          I seem to recall that at least one Police Force issues revolvers as the standard weapon because they are more reliable than semi-automatic pistols.

        2. KroSha

          Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

          " It is assumed I'm not an idiot ..."

          I think I see the issue.

        3. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Gibberish Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

          You must not buy the right kind of pistol that you find it unreliable. ;-)

          Yes Revolvers are less likely to fail. However... 5-6 rounds vs 15. And reload times are faster,

          As to Revolvers, I have big mitts and like a full sized frame. Conceal carry a pistol vs revolver.

          And your revolver is DA or DAO. My pistol is DA first shot, SA the rest unless I decock it.

          W.R.T Hunting... the revolvers are better for hunting unless you look at the pistols that shoot rifle rounds.

      3. Dal90

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        >. It might not fire when you want (possible flaw, yes)

        And that makes all other arguments for "smart guns" invalid.

        You can keep a gun clean, people of average mechanical ability can determine it is in good condition or if it needs to be fixed, how to fix it. Do not complicate a self-defense weapon with an electronic component that is not instantaneous, nor will ever be as reliable as simple mechanics of a pistol, and likely unrepairable in a few years to original condition as electronics used and/or the source code becomes unavailable. You are introducing an additional point of failure for no legitimate reason that can not be mitigated by other, superior controls.

        There is no constitutional protection in the U.S. to have guns to shoot targets or to go hunting with.

        There is only a constitutional right to bear arms to protect yourself (as an individual, and collectively) from harm. Infringing on this by making guns less likely to function when needed for self protection fundamentally undermines that right.

        (No, I'm not a gun nut -- and my pistol is kept locked in a fingerprint-reader equipped vault except when I feel like doing a bit of target shooting. A vault which I also have a physical key to unlock should the reader fail which is fine by me because I do not anticipate a realistic need to use it for self-defense. It remains utterly unacceptable for any weapon that is intended for self-defense however to be encumbered by any additional risk of failure due to of these "smart gun" technologies.)

      4. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Owning a killing machine


        Owning a tool

        Take your pick, mine is:

        Owning sports equipment

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        "This would be designed to fail safe i.e.. Not fire unless 'it' was sure it was being instructed to do so by an authorised user. There will be no false sense of security or accidents. It might not fire when you want (possible flaw, yes) but it will not fire when you do not want it to. Engineering can guarantee that as much as it can for any firearm."


        "Safe" means different things in different contexts, with good reason.

        There's a reason that fire alarms unlock exit doors... except in high security areas containing secret information, where they lock the doors.

        There's a reason why target pistols probably have safeties, while service pistols do not.... both for reasons of safety.

        You sound like you are optimizing for gun ranges, not real world use. A failure to fire on a range won't kill you... in other circumstances it could well do so.

        And the safest club I ever shot at (90 years without a serious safety incident) taught "never use a safety". They felt it would contribute to an unsafe attitude. They may well have been right. I trained there as a handgun safety instructor, after shooting there for years, and certainly I found their doctrines very well thought out... and in line with those of the national shooting sport association.

        My favorite "working pistols" have no safety, revolvers and semi-automatics alike. The safety is me, and my training, and my ingrained procedures. In any case where one might have a real world need for a pistol, I would not use a handgun with a safety.

        And yes, our military were kind enough to train me about using guns in extreme cold. The most important things to remember were:

        (1) never touch metal with your bare flesh - see your remark about gloves... but better designed firearms will allow removal of the trigger guard, to allow the use of mittens - much better at very low temperatures - those are usually rifles.

        (2) at -30, take it apart and remove ALL the oil. Re-oil when it gets warmer.

        Any well designed, well made, properly used firearm should function reliably at least down to -50. Anything less is a significant flaw. Exceptions may be made for purely range guns.

        And yes, I do have a wimp side. I was pleased when it hit -35 and they decided to pull us out of the snow and back to barracks for the night... which saved me from spending the night sharing my sleeping bag with my rifle, which would have been lumpy and cold.

        Note that at -30 or -40, any battery can fail to provide adequate voltage and current, depending on circuit design, which is not under the control of the end user. I wouldn't trust it.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      Finger prints are easily copied.

      Why not go full on impractical SF, a gun that can read your intentions, can't be used for hold-ups, assassinations, etc, only for self defence.

      I'm against the USA gun culture and I think the the US constitution was talking about a Militia, as there was no concept of a permanent federal Army? Anyway I vaguely remember Alister Cooke's Letter from America on the subject.

      I think this is a stupid idea. It's solving a problem that hardly exists, so badly as to be useless. The main problem with guns in USA lies elsewhere. This doesn't stop the gun's owner or a policeman shooting someone, armed or unarmed. It's pointless and missing the various elephants in the room.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The inherent failure...

      ... is a western society whose citizens are so insecure and paranoid that they feel the need to own firearms for "self defense" in the first place. They waffle on about their rights to bear arms forgetting that that was written over 200 years ago in another age. I wonder given half a chance if they'd still be burning witches and owning slaves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The inherent failure...

        ... is assuming that people are always nice to each other.

        Never forget, Hitler was elected.

        Just because you are a being from a higher dimension who aids the poor humans because it is The Right Thing To Do doesn't mean everybody else feels the same way - there are bad people out there who don't see why they should have to work for anything when they can take it from someone else and it doesn't help the population at large when the only people allowed to have the same sort of weapons as the bad guys can't use them without half-a-ton of health and safety bulls*** and being taken out of the loop for a long time afterwards for the inquisition that follows.

        And that's assuming the local Law Enforcement Officers actually bother to do their jobs - I refer you to the investigation into the shootings on the beach in Tunisia for a good reason why the general public should be allowed to own guns for self defence.

        May I suggest you go to Syria or Iraq and offer ISIL the benefits of your wisdom?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The inherent failure...

          "May I suggest you go to Syria or Iraq and offer ISIL the benefits of your wisdom?"

          Where almost all of the population seem to own automatic weapons you mean? Yes, thats really worked over there.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: The inherent failure...

            "Where almost all of the population seem to own automatic weapons you mean? "

            No, it's more like all of the CRIMINAL POPULATION seems to own automatic weapons.

            If the HONEST CITIZENS had them too, they could at least PROTECT THEMSELVES. The only thing COPS can do is cower, and draw a chalk-line after the MURDER. At least a gun in the hand of an HONEST CITIZEN gives an advantage to self-defense. I know *I* would rather go down fighting than die as a coward in my own piss.

    6. JamesPond

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      'guns' - an inherent failure


      Whilst the US kicked us Brits out (twice) and beat the Japanese in WWII, on no occasion did the general populance of the USA owning their own guns have a bearing on the outcome (IMHO). Japan has the lowest gun crime rate ( in the world and Britain is not far behind. Guess what, both have very strict gun ownership laws. Why is it everyone outside the USA can see what the problem and solution is, but is seems no one inside the USA can?

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Guess what, both have very strict gun ownership laws. Why is it everyone outside the USA can see what the problem and solution is, but is seems no one inside the USA can?

        Perhaps you're thinking a ban is the answer. How's that working out for Venezuela?

        That's the funny thing about the US, like Venezuela, it's neither Japan nor Britain and just because something appears to work in one place doesn't mean it will everywhere especially considering the generally low rate of crime overall in Japan. If Venezuela proves anything it's that correlation isn't causation.

      2. ab-gam

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        I will speak to one specific area where you are wrong. The US culture of gun ownership DID help them win.

        When the average recruit or draftee was skilled in the art of using firearms to take game animals for food, that's one less critical skill they had to be taught before being deployed. Years of familiarity and practice give something a few weeks of boot camp cannot.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

          Go back to World War I and Sergeant Alvin York. He knew guns BEFORE becoming a doughboy. He finished the war a decorated hero DUE TO his sharpshooting.

          PS. Japan has a honor-bound, obedient culture, thus the low crime rates (crime taints the whole family, so pressure builds). But note Switzerland has a gun culture yet their crime rates are similarly low. Again, culture plays a role. Wouldn't work in a country like the USA built on REBELLION.

      3. Ian Michael Gumby

        @James Pond... Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        You have no clue.

        1) Google CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) while founded in 1903 there's a reason why it exists.

        2) Guns are a tool. Go spend time living / working in the rural US.

        3) Owning guns did help when it came to training conscripts during the draft during WW II.

        Hint. Research how they taught air crews to shoot.

      4. J__M__M

        Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

        Why is it everyone outside the USA can see what the problem and solution is, but is seems no one inside the USA can?

        One possibility might be that you aren't as smart as you think. Do you know how to unring a bell? How about 400+ million of them? Japan has restricted gun ownership since the 16th century and banned them flat out since WWII. In other words there weren't any guns there in the first place, so shut the hell up about Japan already.

        And please let us know when you smart guys decide to come down off your high horse and invent a time machine. We'd like to book a seat on the first available flight back to when the 2nd amendment was still relevant to the discussion (about 399,999,999 guns ago).

        P.S. Rather than a show of hands, please just click the downvote icon to indicate your lack perspective. Thank you.

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: 'Smart guns' - an inherent failure

      smart GUN OWNERS are a better idea. well, if you purchase a gun for self-protection, that's pretty SMART!

      And arming MORE 'smart gun owners' with concealed carry permits means that someone _BESIDES_ the criminal in the room is likely to be carrying...

      THEN fix the laws so that FIRING! A! PISTOL! in the act of defense against a gun-totin' criminal is NOT punishable by ANYTHING, even if you KILL! THAT! PERP! to DEATH!!

      All of the laws and loopholes used by the loopy-left to keep people from PROTECTING THEMSELVES leads to a fearful society of WIMPS that are AFRAID to STAND UP to CRIME!

  2. goldcd

    I'm anti-gun, but can still never see it working

    for a start, what crimes would a smart-lock actually prevent?

    Most people shot with guns were meant to be shot with a gun by the person firing the gun - so they're still all in play.

    Then the suicides - unless you say build in a 24 hour delay.

    The only obvious one I can see are children accidentally killed whilst playing - but if you can't be bothered securing your gun, you ain't going to be buying this.

    Or maybe it would encourage people to simply leave their guns lying around?

    Encouraging theft maybe? Pretty sure it wouldn't take more than 30 mins with a drill to return the gun to free-fire.

    Fringe cases "when the gun is wrestled out of your hand" - well if you didn't have a gun in the first place, that one goes away.

    Oh I'll stop waffling on now, but it's all a bit silly.

  3. cbars

    over engineered

    So, if the primary purpose is to prevent a child/assailant from using your weapon. Wouldn't a simple key combination be sufficient. I agree that this would still introduce a delay in ready-to-fire time, but I would say that even in America, the shoot-from-the-hip duel scenario is largely out of fashion and most people would at least take aim at a target and make some demand like "stop mugging me or I'll shoot you" - which should give enough time to activate the device. A 3 or 4 number combo (not 111 or 123) on the hilt should be do-able with one hand with a little practice and provide sufficient protection against a misfire by a child. Anyway, I'm sure there are smarter ways to increase gun safety than adding a complicated microprocessor into the mix.

    Better still, don't leave your gun with your kids. If you won't give up guns, you can't make them 100% safe, they're designed to hurt/kill things as their primary function so you're in a zero sum game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: over engineered

      Not in use? It should be in your locked gun safe.

      Carried? It should stay on your person, under your control.

      Children? Should be taught not to touch them, and denied access, by above methods.

      Young adults? Should be taught to use them safely, like any other potentially dangerous tool. A chainsaw is way scarier than a gun, and harder to control and use safely (my chainsaw instructor had a degree in forestry, and it was fascinating the number of direct and indirect ways to kill yourself with a chainsaw), and even an axe is often an unappreciated hazard.

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: over engineered

        Gun safes are fine for sporting or hunting guns, but have an obvious disadvantage to those who purchase a fun for self defence. If someone is breaking into your house, you need your gun right at that moment - you don't have time to fiddle around in a cupboard, enter a combination, get the gun out, get the bullets out and load the gun.

        It's an inherent conflict between having the gun ready for self-defence and having the gun safe from accidents involving children/drunken-idiots. You can't have both.

        1. cambsukguy

          Re: over engineered

          If your gun is in a safe, I would imagine it is loaded in that safe, especially if it is a revolver - and it would be, since it is for self-defence and needs to be reliable.

          If it is a pistol, the magazine might well not be in the gun but these can be loaded quite quickly - the issue might be leaving a loaded magazine, they are not as reliable if left (fully) loaded.

          TBH, given how quickly my laptop responds to a finger swipe - even a crappy one - I would have thought a gun in a safe opened by finger with a swipe would be pretty good and offer quite high security against access by children etc.

          But, 'murricans and their guns are ill separated, I don't envy those who try.

          1. ab-gam

            Re: over engineered

            >>...the issue might be leaving a loaded magazine, they are not as reliable if left (fully) loaded.

            I have a hard time accepting <topic> advice from anyone who believes in fake <topic> related 'facts,'

        2. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: over engineered

          For those who don't get it...

          There are several types of safes.

          And its here that biometrics makes sense.

          There is a safe manufacturer that makes a small desktop / desk side safe that uses either a biometric, RFID or combination to let you get to your gun quickly. In this type of safe, you would keep the gun with a loaded mag, but not one in the chamber.

          If you have kids around the house, you don't keep loaded guns out where they can get them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: over engineered

            In a robbery last week, the story owner had 2-3 seconds max. Good thing he had a dumb gun.


          2. Chez

            Re: over engineered

            >In this type of safe, you would keep the gun with a loaded mag, but not one in the chamber.

            For home defense? No, you'd leave it at Condition 1 or 2, depending on the type of safe, 1 being completely ready to fire and 2 being chambered and uncocked. Loaded but no round in chamber is Condition 3, which is what I keep my handgun in. No safe, it's just on the nightstand, but I don't have kids. You also have to turn off the safety before you can rack the slide.

          3. NotBob

            Re: over engineered

            I had one of those small biometric gun safes. Great idea, but it couldn't reliably read my fingerprint. Interestingly, we have the same issue with a number of the employees at the local factory, where we use fingerprint for the time clock. The company had to put in exceptions so some folks could clock in and out without the biometric component, because they had fingerprints that could not reliably be read.

            I no longer have that device.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: over engineered

              "The company had to put in exceptions so some folks could clock in and out without the biometric component, because they had fingerprints that could not reliably be read."

              People with excessively physical "hands on" jobs find their hands worn so smooth they can't leave consistent fingerprints. True story.

        3. Ellipsis

          Re: over engineered

          > If someone is breaking into your house, you need your gun right at that moment

          If someone is breaking into your house, it’s most likely to steal something to fund his next hit. Why is your first reaction to end his life?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: over engineered

            Or he could be crazed and looking to F you up or other unpleasantries. Some even do it IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, they are that crazed. Just read the news. Plus more and more "Shoot first and to hell with the questions" incidents; no witnesses. Put it this way; sometimes you may not even have ONE second to spare.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: over engineered

            > Why is your first reaction to end his life?

            He'll die of an OD anyway. But if I miss or only wound him, he just might give up the drug habit.

          3. ab-gam

            Re: over engineered

            >> If someone is breaking into your house, it’s most likely to steal something to fund his next hit. Why is your first reaction to end his life?

            1- Someone desperate or chemically altered enough to break into an occupied house probably doesn't care if they injure, maim or kill you.

            2- Handguns are not instant death-ray projectors. Statistically, most gunshot victims survive.

            3- If the thief is coherent enough to recognize a firearm being pointed at them, there's a chance they will retreat, leaving both criminal and citizen unharmed. Standing there yelling "Stop, or I shall yell STOP once more!" does not provide this level of deterrence.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        @AC... Re: over engineered

        Yup you are correct. Only problem is that you have people who don't know anything about guns who can't get it thru their thick heads that a fingerprint reader isn't going to make anything better.

      3. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: over engineered

        "my chainsaw instructor had a degree in forestry, and it was fascinating the number of direct and indirect ways to kill yourself with a chainsaw"

        Very, very difficult to kill lots of *other* people from the other side of a theatre though.

        1. hplasm

          Re: over engineered

          "Very, very difficult to kill lots of *other* people from the other side of a theatre though."

          Lincoln Logs?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: over engineered

      Not really a good idea. It is generally considered by self defense experts that someone within 6 meters is a deadly threat to a person holding a ready to function gun, not one that takes seconds of fiddling, during an adrenaline laden crisis, to enable.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: over engineered

        I think I have mentioned before, an aggressor can cover 14ft in a second, so while this thing is deciding if it is really you, a guy with a knife less than 20ft away has an excellent chance of giving you a slice and dice.

        I wonder if this became law would the cops be obliged to use it or would they be exempt to give them a better chance?

        Although assuming someone has a 1.5 second delay could prove fatal if they have bypassed the sensor or have an older/out of state weapon.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Chris G ... Re: over engineered

          Since you brought it up. Laquan ?sp? McDonald in Chicago was a teen who was shot 16 times by a CPD officer who is now up on charges. Why? Because he was high on drugs, resisted arrest and was approximately 20 feet holding a knife and refused to drop it.

          You may have heard about this case. Lots of protest marches and the Chief of Police lost his job over the 'cover up'.

          The officer will get tried and most likely will be found innocent. Then watch the riot/protests that ensue. Of course the family was already paid off by the city...

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: over engineered

          14 feet in 1 second from rest would be very, very impressive.

          If you consider a sprinter using starting blocks to aid acceleration (and excluding reaction time to give them even more advantage in calculation) then top Olympic runners (based on 0 - 10 m splits and reaction time recordings & doing a bit of simple maths which if anything over estimates teh distance they woudl cover in a second by assuming uniform acceleration) would fail to achieve that (even renowned superb starters such as Ben Johnson).

          If someone is already in motion running at good speed then it would be viable.

          If someone was running attack at you from short distance & likely to contact you in 1 second plenty of tripping defensive techniques likely to be a better option than an attempt at a wild west quick draw (remember you have to factor in your reaction time on teh draw).

          If they were running holding a weapon then there speed would be quite slow (e.g. no arm pumping obviously, which makes body roll more so would need to slow to be stable enough for good shooting) to try and run and take a vaguely accurate shot

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: over engineered

            > 14 feet in 1 second from rest would be very, very impressive.

            I can do it. Maybe 1 second, maybe 1.5... do you feel lucky? Nope, does not matter if I'm holding a weapon that weighs a few pounds. Then it's a contest of brute strength, which if you feel the need for a 'smart' gun, you'll probably lose.

            You really need to fire a few quick shots to scare the hell out of the attacker(s). If you don't have a dumb gun you might as well come at them swinging a crowbar and yelling like a maniac.

          2. ab-gam

            14 feet in a second or two

            You will be surprised if you try it.

            Have a friend stand 14 feet from you with a simulated knife (plastic spatula or other non-dangerous item) in his hand.

            Put a simulated gun (a pen similar non-dangerous item) in your front pocket. You can even leave part of it sticking out to simulate a standard law enforcement type external holster.

            Take bets on whether or not your friend can advance and tap you on the torso with his fake knife before you can draw your fake gun and point it at his torso.

        3. ab-gam

          Re: over engineered

          >> I wonder if this became law would the cops be obliged to use it or would they be exempt to give them a better chance?

          In the US, the Police and Government in general are ALWAYS Exempted from "Sensible" gun laws.

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: over engineered

      "So, if the primary purpose is to prevent a child/assailant from using your weapon. Wouldn't a simple key combination be sufficient."

      Not if the child's precocious enough to figure out the combination AND keep that knowledge that he knows from his parents.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    The obvious upside to a smart gun is access control. Kloepfer told CBS: "I learned that every 30 minutes in the United States on average a child dies or is injured by a firearm."

    What is not being said is whether the one holding the gun is another child or a gangbanger.

    1. JustWondering

      Re: Hmm....

      If gangbangers were murdering children, the NRA would tell us all about it. It seems to be kids finding loaded guns and playing with them, injuring either themselves or their playmates. It is surprising how often it is a preschooler.

      1. gibbleth

        Re: Hmm....

        Heh. The NRA has been *TRYING* to tell you all about it. Shoot, if you just surf on over to the US federal government's various websites, you can find out this is a lie. The total number of children accidentally killed, as in killed by accidental discharge is fewer than 100 per year, and most of those are hunting accidents. Police accidentally kill some 300 per year for comparison. The vast majority of gun violence is caused by the drug culture, not accidental discharge, and you can bet they won't adopt smart guns.

        This statistic, which some of us are tired to death of disputing, was created simply by observing that there is a lot of gun violence between young people, almost all of whom know each other, and then deciding those were all accidental. I do await your numbers, though, rather than bald assertions.

        To give you an idea of how rare it actually is, it makes the evening news when it happens.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Hmm....

          In what weird distortion of reality is killing a child described as a "hunting accident".

          If you are using a tool primarily designed to blow fatal holes in fleshy things then accident is not an appropriate word IMHO, phrases like massively unforgivable gross negligence would be more accurate.

      2. Dal90

        Re: Hmm....

        >If gangbangers were murdering children, the NRA would tell us all about it.

        Most gangbangers, by the definitions of liberals today, are children.

        That statistic of one every 30 minutes no undoubtedly consists primarily of teen age gang bangers shooting each other, or hitting their neighbors while trying to shoot each other assuming the standard definition of children to be under 18.

        I wouldn't bet on that definition anymore, coming from a state where the Governor would like everyone under the age of 21 to be treated as a juvenile offender, and we now define 25 year old as children on health insurance policies.

        If you back out the extremely high rates of black on black shootings, and the elevated (but much lower) levels of shootings among hispanics -- both gang driven -- the U.S. has gun violence levels on par with Canada and Finland.

        Start to dive into the white population so you also back out the higher rates of gun violence in Appalachia and other areas settled by descendants of poor Scots-Irish (from pre-revolutionary migrations, not the Irish migrations after the potato famine who went to industrial, urban areas) and the remainder of the U.S. would have gun violence levels on par with core European countries like Germany.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Hmm....

          Don't forget to take out suicides since people bent on killing themselves will just find alternatives (see Japan and South Korea: both near top of the list AND with strict anti-inflammatory policies; the US is middle of the pack suicide-wise).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmm....

            Yup, lots of bridge jumpers around here.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A really smart gun...

    would correct for all the things that could cause the person firing it to miss the target. Things like trying to dodge an attacker while returning fire, the shakes because you are afraid and so on.

    Then a really, really smart gun would have the potential of firing round corners by controlling the flight of the bullet.

    Any other form of smarts are just window dressing that would most probably get you killed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A really smart gun...

      So, you want a knife missile?

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Knife Missile

        Have an upvote for the Culture reference.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Knife Missile

          Thought it might have been a heatseeker or rubber ricochet one

          "I am the law" and all that.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        @AC ... Re: A really smart gun...

        Its called a ballistic knife. And they are pretty much outlawed.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: @AC ... A really smart gun...

          >Its called a ballistic knife. And they are pretty much outlawed.

          No it isn't and they aren't - knife missiles are 1.0 culture citizens and have the same rights you do

          1. frank ly

            Re: @AC ... A really smart gun...

            I thought a knife missile is 'simply' a robotic tool used by a drone. (A drone is a 1.0 or greater Culture citizen. Actually, a drone who was allowed to be equiped with a knife missile would be notably greater than 1.0 and would be a member of SC.)

          2. Ian Michael Gumby

            Re: @AC ... A really smart gun...

            Sorry, I am an old fart and I don't grok your 'cultural reference'.

            Ballistic knives have been outlawed in many of the states.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: @AC ... A really smart gun...

              The Culture (capitalized) is a novel series by Iain M. Banks. Been writing them since 1987, and his latest is pretty recent (The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012). The title refers to a pretty loose and liberal society of the future (it's post-scarcity, so basic needs are ubiquitous and there's little real "need"). This society includes mechanical entities. Those rating at least 1.0 are considered equal to humans in status. SC refers to Special Circumstances, basically the black ops arm that deals with the most troublesome aspects of Culture-outside relations.

              In The Culture, a "knife missile" is a sci-fi smart weapon. It's more than a ballistic knife that you launch and it flies forward. No, knife missiles can act on their own, float in the air, and cut very rapidly using both itself and projected force fields, among other things (equipment varies, but that's the basic function). It's an autonomous device so it's technically a citizen in the Culture. It rates well over 1.0, though, as it's designed specifically for use with Special Circumstances.

    2. phix8

      Re: A really smart gun...

      They did that in the old Tom Selleck movie Runaway, anyone remember that? That guy from Kiss ran around with a gun that fired tiny missiles that could track people. Knife missiles on the other hand had effectors and other gadgets and would only blow themselves up as a last resort

  6. DanceMan

    Left-wing American news organisation CBS

    In which alternate universe?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Left-wing American news organisation CBS

      In the current Universe.

      They aren't as bad as the CNN but they are left of center and are closer to the left than others.

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Left-wing American news organisation CBS

      Remember this is the American idea of "left", which means they're not quite as rabidly right-wing as Mussolini.

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Left-wing American news organisation CBS

        Originators of the term "fake but accurate" which they used after they were hoaxed by (or bought into) a memo written in MS Word on Times New Roman font purporting to be a (poor) evaluation by the Texas ANG of George W Bush from the 1970's.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Left-wing American news organisation CBS

          The Killian documents (the hoax) that you refer to were almost certainly an attempt to whitewash George Bush's avoidance of the draft so that he could sit at home while others went to Vietnam. There were most likely created by his daddy's operatives and CBS was set up to take the fall - all the evidence points to the contents of Killian's memo being substantially accurate.

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Left-wing American news organisation CBS

            Ah yes, the conspiracy theorists friend.

            "The less evidence there is of my nutbar conspiracy, the more it proves just how deep the conspiracy runs."

            And other such dribble.

  7. sisk

    Doomed to failure

    For the most part the people that the idea of a smart gun appeals to the most are the same people who are unlikely to buy a gun in the first place. The one place I could see any widespread interest both in acquiring guns and for said guns to be smart is in law enforcement, and law enforcement budgets typically don't allow for them to double the price of their firearms. Neat though the tech is, I just don't see it ever catching on.

    For reference, I'm an advocate of gun rights, but don't currently own a gun myself due to the combination of a couple kids and no means of adequately securing them. In this context, adequately means both a safe with a combination lock and trigger/breech locks. I get rather paranoid when it comes to my kids and dangerous objects. You would too if you knew them. They're smart enough to figure out password and dumb enough to play with knives. And as for their knowledge of gun safety...well, I took an air soft pellet to the face while trying to teach them. Good thing I didn't start them with a .22 like my dad did.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Doomed to failure

      The advocates for these measures also fail to realize most gun violence is done by criminals who by definition ignore the law. Also, there are many situations, not just home defence, where being able to fire quickly and accurately is important - ask any outdoors man about being in the woods. Plus, a gun comes equipped with a mechanical safety.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. DryBones

          Re: Doomed to failure

          Identifying the target takes place before you draw, otherwise why are you drawing? 1.5 seconds? With a little practice you go from grasp to 2 aimed shots in that time. I've done it, and I'm slow.

          Also, kindly refrain from trying to dictate what I am able to buy. I may CONSIDER such when it has been standard issue for the police for 2 years AND it has not gone over like a microcosm of "Superiority".

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Doomed to failure

            I've had a mate be charged by a very large wild pig he was hunting from less than 5 metres away. You can bet he was glad there wasn't a 1.5 second delay in being able to fire.

          2. Ian Michael Gumby

            @DryBones... Re: Doomed to failure

            Yes you are slow. ;-P

            The trick is to focus on the front sight and the target. Usually this is at targets that are within 7 yards or less where you practice this drill. If you train yourself to have good posture and repeated posture, you can do this drill and you'll be 'on target' and shooting much faster. You may not be hitting 10X, but you'll be hitting center mass and depending on how good you are you can get this within the 8-9 ring every time.

            Note: There are some people teaching advanced techniques that can shrink your groupings...

            1. gibbleth

              Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

              And dry fire and dry fire and dry fire and dry fire. Pistols are all about how you hold them and you need muscle memory to get proficient with one. I probably dry fire my gun 100 times for every time I shoot a live round. I concentrate on the sight picture and make sure the gun doesn't wobble while I do it to learn trigger management and that makes a huge difference at the range.

              1. Ian Michael Gumby

                @Gibberish Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

                10mm? Yeah you probably dry fire because you can't afford the ammo. ;-)

                And you also don't like the recoil. (Yes, I have a .40 and I've rented 10mm at the range so I do know what it feels like. And yes, I am not recoil sensitive.)

                But to your point. You do have to spend time with the gun in both dry fire and doing skills and drills.

                Unfortunately there are some drills that you can't do at the range.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

              Are you a member of "A well regulated Militia"?

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

                Yes, a properly-equipped militia of ONE, as SCOTUS has noted there is no minimum.

              2. Ian Michael Gumby

                @AC ... Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

                I am not sure if you were directing this to me...

                A militia?

                As in the same meaning that is in the 2nd Amendment?

                Yes, I was of military age and population. Now I'm above that age.

              3. sisk

                Re: @DryBones... Doomed to failure

                Are you a member of "A well regulated Militia"?

                Technically every adult man with the capability and willingness to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to defend his home is a member of a "well regulated militia" by the definition in use when the Constitution was written. Doubt it? Go look it up, and then look at the men who made up the militia that fought in the war they'd just won.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Truckie ... Re: Doomed to failure

          Dude, your ignorance of guns is amazing.

          Clearly you've never hunted.

          Depending on what you hunt... where you hunt... caliber, distance and shot placement... you may not kill the animal right off. You may have to put a second shot. And lets see. Do you spend $1.50 using a high powered rifle round or do you pull out your 9mm and spend ~.25-.30 cents or less (FMJ 115gr) YMMV, cheaper if you reload. (Or you could use a .22lr too)

          There's more, and yes, hunters carry pistols.

          Oh and some actually hunt with pistols too. ;-)

          As to firing quickly and accurately.. yes you can do both. However that takes a lot of practice with a pistol.

          Even with a rifle. One time I had to get out of a deer stand and stalk a coyote who was in the field with the cattle. I had a split second shot at 125yrds in a low light condition. So speaking from experience... yes, split second shots done accurately. (BTW, some shooting ranges have controlled targets that will expose themselves and hide (turn 90 degrees sideways) for periods of time.

          I won't even get in to how silly you sound about NJ.

          Again please... go get some education about guns and gun safety.

        3. gibbleth

          Re: Doomed to failure

          A. I have a 10mm I carry 'in the woods'. I'm not hunting, I'm only going to use it if something charges me where accuracy is less necessary than sheer energy down range in a hurry. I won't carry a long arm because I am hiking, not hunting and long arms are heavy and cumbersome. I have no idea where you get the idea that anyone in the woods would only carry a long arm when there are plenty of useful pistols and revolvers for self-defense in the woods. Besides, I believe you are more likely to be attacked by a two-legged vermin than a four-legged one these days almost no matter how remote you get.

          B. It turns out that England, which has water separating it from other countries, in which guns are basically outlawed, has not managed to stop the inflow of guns. The US, OTOH, shares a massive border with Mexico, and plenty of countries south of Mexico manufacture guns. Basically, New Jersey will outlaw any meaningful self-defense gun, which they already pretty much have done, without stopping the inflow of illegal guns at all. If you think it is possible to stop the inflow of guns, first explain how we should stop cocaine from being imported, and I will listen to you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Doomed to failure

            "If you think it is possible to stop the inflow of guns, first explain how we should stop cocaine from being imported, and I will listen to you."

            If you think is is possible to stop the inflow of guns, first explain how we should stop 10 million PEOPLE from jumping the border, and I will listen to you.

            To some extent, mainland Europe has the same "problem". If one out of every thousand people coming across the border has a gun, then there are > 1000 potential terrorists running around Europe with a gun stashed and waiting (though a big truck has proven to be just as deadly).

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Doomed to failure

              You also need to consider the US has a number of famous gun FACTORIES within its borders. Not to mention plans for very cheap-and-dirty homemade guns regularly make the rounds on the Internet.

        4. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Doomed to failure

          > Eventually it will make it hard for criminals to get working weapons.

          No it won't, unfortunately, because by then the hack for rapidly reprogramming the fingerprint sensor will be readily available. I suppose it might increase the black-market prices for older guns a bit, though.

        5. sisk

          Re: Doomed to failure


          You're mistaken on all counts here. Let me take it point by point.

          "any outdoorsman in the woods" is going to be using long arms not short arms.

          If you're smart and you're hunting anything other than birds you carry both a rifle and a pistol. The exception who proves the rule for me is my dad, who used a .44 magnum revolver (the infamous "Dirty Harry" gun) with a moderately powerful scope as his only deer gun for years. He had to get a lot closer than everyone else to take a deer down, but he consistently dropped them where they were rather than spending time tracking wounded animals (a sad reality of hunting is sometimes you don't get the vital double-lung or heart shots needed to drop a deer in place).

          Firing quickly and accurately is not how it works.

          Any competitive shooter can accurately put 50 rounds 200 yards down range in a minute with a semi-automatic. I'm rusty as hell, but I shot in those sorts of competitions every weekend over the summers as a teen and consistently scored around 450 out of 500 possible points.

          Yes, most gun violence is done by criminals but they have to get their guns from somewhere. NJ had the right idea. Once the technology is proven, then require it on all weapons. Eventually it will make it hard for criminals to get working weapons.

          There are a number of nations where it is heavily restricted or completely illegal for private citizens to own guns and yet the gun crime rate is higher than in the US. About half the top ten nations with the highest gun related homicide rates - the US is number 19 with a surprisingly low rate of 3.43 gun related homicides pre 100,000 people. Compare that to Honduras - #1 on the list - where the gun murder rate is 66.64 per 100.000 people.

          Most gun related deaths in the US are suicides. If you take a suicidal person's gun away but ignore their real problems they'll just find a different way to get the job done, so gun control is NOT going to help with that issue.

  8. david1024

    Kloepfer told CBS: "I learned that every 30 minutes in the United States on average a child dies or is injured by a firearm."

    That statistic includes law enforcement shootings, suicides, homicides, accidental discharges.... etc...

    This product would prevent very nearly none of deaths that drive that stat. Which is why this sort of product remains a solution looking for a problem.

  9. GrumpyKiwi

    Would you still call it a Blue Screen of Death?

    ...when the "smart safety" crashes - as all computers are wont to do at the very moment you need them the most.

    To reboot, remove magazine and any chambered rounds then hold trigger for 20 seconds. Now wait 2 minutes for reboot to complete. Re-register fingerprint/RFID ring. Reinsert magazine. Congratulations, your Glock is now ready for use.

  10. mr. deadlift


    everyone knows this is clearly the progenitor to the LawMaker of Dredd fame.

    I for one welcome our dystopian future police/judiciary overlords, etc. etc.

  11. James O'Shea

    been thought of

    Back in the 1980s Dean Ing wrote the 'Systemic Shock' novels (I can only remember _Systemic Shock_ and _Single Combat_, but there might have been more) based on the premise that China and India allied against the rest of the world (yeah, right, _that's_ gonna happen) with various naughty effects ranging from the mildly annoying nuclear war to the truly terrifying not-so-accidental release of biowar agents. Things get really interesting for a while. When things cool off, there's no more India and not much China (or North Korea, Mongolia, parts of Russia...) and the US has taken a hammering. While the gringos are picking up the pieces, the Mexicans move back into Alta California (look it up...) with the result that the gringos are less than happy when they get around to noticing. The reconstituted American government, in an effort to rebuild, forms special search and rescue teams to do all kinds of policing in the wild wild west... and some of them are a lot more special than others. And are armed with smart guns which not only can identify, quickly, easily, and accurately, those who are authorised to use them, but, better, will force the trigger forwards, trapping the fingers of those who attempt to use them but who are _not_ authorised. This, plus pockets of biowar stuff and radiation left over from the war, become rather important plot points.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: been thought of

      If you can do all that without batteries, purely on mechanics, the world will be impressed.

      But then again, doing so will probably require breaking several scientific laws along the way.

  12. Geoffrey W

    AI is the cool thing these days. He'd be better off working on a companion to the Roomba - The Boomba! The smartest device for home defence. "Boomba!; those kids are on my lawn again; defence level stun." Prototypes can be seen on you tube.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A really really smart gun

    ...would run a quick brain scan on the shooter and the target, in most cases decide that it's in the interest of mankind to remove both from the gene pool, and shoot them both.

    AC, because of limited trust in the humour of the average gun nu^H^H enthusiast.

    1. John F***ing Stepp

      Re: A really really smart gun

      No, that is funny, and I would buy one. Have another upvote.

  14. Carstairs

    technology probably isn't the answer here

    There are, I understand, a lot of cases in the USA where a child gets hold of a gun and accidentally shoots someone. And also, I have read, a surprisingly large number of cases where policemen get shot with their own gun. (Hard to get good stats: the gun lobby in the USA seems to be against them.) Both of which, "smart guns" could prevent.

    But - if I was a person who thought I should have a gun for self-defense, I would really want a non-smart gun. Why? Because of my experience with technology over the last ~ 30 years. Personal computers; electronics in cars; the way my phone or laptop sometimes don't react to my finger; etc - all have a nasty tendency to be unreliable these days. And if I thought it was worth having a gun around, I would want to be as sure as possible that it would work properly if I needed it.

    Potentially, technology could work well - but I'd want a decade or two of evidence to convince me.

    Looking at things from a different point of view: some years back, driving while drunk was regarded as sort-of-normal - and the accidents which happened because of that were "just accidents". It seems to me that in the USA shootings still tend to be regarded like that. Perhaps we should try for a society which requires a suitably higher standard from any/all gun owners. (Shooting while drunk, or not being able to properly see what's in the way, or just-because-the-person-in-front-of-you-*might*-be-a-danger all seem to be rather too accepted.)

    1. DryBones

      Re: technology probably isn't the answer here

      Finally, sense. I wonder what the reliability is noted to be. Even if it's 5 9's, you multiply that by the number of guns, and the number of times that each one is going to be touched... Yeah, statistics start looking a lot uglier when your personal model fails to work on 3 separate occasions that are solely down to the electronics.

      It's a little like the Internet of Tat, making stuff smart that doesn't need to be or shouldn't try to be. I don't need someone in Russia to be able to turn my kettle on.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: technology probably isn't the answer here

        >Finally, sense. I wonder what the reliability is noted to be.

        How about a lighter touch?

        Swipe the sensor and get (say) 6 hours (rolling) of access, or until you "touch off."

        That's probably enough time to get you through whatever you were doing which required the gun - i.e. from putting it on to taking it off, but would also help prevent children from finding a forgotten gun and playing with it.

        You can mandate that type of control without actually interfering with those who want or need quick access.

        It also gives people the choice of whether they would like a more secure gun or a faster-access gun. I'd imagine that there are plenty of people who keep a gun at home who don't generally carry them, for whom a 1.5 second delay is not a problem, but finding the key, going to the safe, in the dark etc, might be problematic.

        I would put a levy on all publicly available guns so that control-free guns aren't cheaper (yes, I know criminals will try to avoid them, but you'll still limit the danger from stolen guns), but give people the choice and let that choice be based on safety rather than cost. It can hardly get worse than the current situation.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: technology probably isn't the answer here

          You forget the burglary situation. Murphy will inevitably strike then. Or just when you need it you mar or etch your sensor finger. Now it won't match anymore. Same for your backup fingers.

    2. gibbleth

      Re: technology probably isn't the answer here

      Let me put your mind at ease. Possessing a gun while drunk is a crime where I live and nearly everywhere in the US. That's merely having one, let alone shooting one, which is often a felony. I live in Tejas, one of the 'gun culture' states, and it is illegal to have a gun of any sort where a minor can get to it, period. Also, if you shoot someone that isn't your target, in this state, you can be charged with manslaughter. There have been cases where such a person went to jail for a long time for doing that. We take guns very seriously here.

      I don't know why you think that anyone would shoot over 'might be a danger'; these are people carrying the guns, not psychopaths. I do know that if you shoot someone for any reason, here in Tejas, the odds are very, very good you are going to jail while the police sort it all out. Not prison, if you were justified, but you will very likely spend the night in the county lockup.

      Also, if you have a concealed handgun license, as I do, you have been repeatedly instructed that you are not the police and you may only use it to prevent imminent danger of life and limb and if you use it in any other way, you are very likely to be prosecuted and do time in real prison. If you have purchased a gun and not apprised yourself of the laws, you are in the same boat as anyone else who has done something dangerous and not bothered to figure out what his legal risk was. Many people are not aware, for instance, that killing someone negligently on the highway leads to jail time in this state.

      Were the other side at all interested in any sort of compromise, I would happily sign up for shall-issue permits to own a gun so long as there was any reason to believe they would not immediately be hijacked to make owning a gun impossible and so long as such a permit became a federal right-to-carry. However, the other side is in no mood to compromise, so neither am I. The right to self-defense is self-evident, is selectively incorporated in the supreme court decision 'McDonald', and is far to precious to fritter away.

      It always amazes me that those who would put restrictions on us gun owners are surprised to find that most of them already exist.

    3. Daniel 18

      Re: technology probably isn't the answer here

      "There are, I understand, a lot of cases in the USA where a child gets hold of a gun and accidentally shoots someone."

      Those incidents are quite rare. You have to realize that every one of them will be widely and repeatedly reported, and you are looking at a country with a population of 330,000,000 people. Statistically they are so far down the list that killer cribs are probably a much bigger threat.... as are non-diet soft drinks and fruit juice (implicated in obesity).

      From the Washington Post:"Across the 17 states the NVDRS has data for from 2011, there were 11 unintentional firearm deaths that year in which the person pulling the trigger was age 14 or younger."

      A gun control advocacy group claims many such deaths are unreported, and the true number is on the order of 100 a year. If this potentially biased data is accepted, then the rate of child powered shootings is .003 per 100,000 people... essentially statistically insignificant.

      In comparison, one list of the top 15 causes of death gives an accidental death rate in the US of approximately 19 per 100,000... where accidental death itself comes in after heart disease, cancer, tobacco, obesity, medical errors, and lower respiratory disease. The fifteenth cause on the list clocks in at about 50 times higher than the advocacy group's unsubstantiated claim.

      So no, it is not common, and anyone who tells you so is uninformed or innumerate.

  15. PNGuinn

    Smart guns?

    Smart guns, Hmmmm

    Internet of things, Hmmm

    Internet of Guns. Now we're Shootin'!

    Smartphone app ... Fire your gun via your smartphone ...

    Err - what could possibly go wrong?

    Thanks - mine's the one with the hole in the pocketses where someone *accidently* got their

    b*l***ks blown off while they were ....

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Was hoping for the things from Aliens

    ob IT angle - with their GRID laptop contoller

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Dissapointed

      If you remember GRID Laptops, the one on the shuttle had to have a fan installed.

  17. gibbleth

    The one child killed every half hour due to accidental discharge is, pure and simple, a lie. It's a lie that those who originated it have to know is a lie and anyone can easily find out is a lie. It is a statistic created by including all the deaths up to age 20 in one 'study' and it makes no special effort to determine what was actually an accidental discharge and what was a intentional discharge. Surfing around the web, the number seems to run between around 70 and around 150 per year.

    Also, my kids won't touch a gun, period, without permission from an adult. Why is that? They've all shot a gun and seen what it can do. I took them out to a nice wide open space and we spent a pleasant afternoon exploding things with bullets. After that, they had a very healthy respect for what a gun can do. We also have gun rules in my family and anyone can call anyone on not being safe. Other kids coming into my house will happily pick up a gun and play with it, but my kids won't.

    If you are serious about reducing accidental deaths, and maybe making a dent in intentional ones, gun safety should be required at all schools. We teach children sex safety, so why not gun safety? For this, you really can't simply tell them not to touch a gun, which is a good start, but you need to instill into them the danger inherent in a gun.

    That being said, more kids drown than are accidentally shot. Far more kids are killed in traffic accidents. More kids commit suicide. More kids are actually killed by someone else, sometimes by their own parents. Way more kids die from malaria.

    Compared to the above-mentioned around a hundred deaths a year from accidental discharge, you must add the untold human misery that a convenient handgun prevents, the rapes, the murders, the beatings and the kidnappings. A handgun is particularly suitable to preventing a rape, for instance. Conservatively, a gun is used around 180,000 times a year defensively in the US. Realistically, it's at least a million times and probably more because most uses go unreported. When a monomaniac sets about to 'solve' a problem, such a person often ignores the side-effects of his solution, in this case, to reduce the efficacy of a tool of self-defense in order to reduce the instance of a much smaller problem. What I'm trying to say is that if you do this, the body count most assuredly will go up, not down.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "We teach children sex safety, so why not gun safety?"

      Actually, aren't sex safety classes BANNED in many schools because of an attitude of "Don't even THINK about sex"?

      "That being said, more kids drown than are accidentally shot. Far more kids are killed in traffic accidents. More kids commit suicide. More kids are actually killed by someone else, sometimes by their own parents. Way more kids die from malaria."

      And most would say the bulk of those deaths are tragic but pretty much hard to really prevent. Vehicle accidents are usually pure physics; not much you can do about a two-ton object hitting a kid that popped out of nowhere within ten feet. Suicides? South Korea and Japan have no guns but are much worse in suicides; they just turn to other means like self-defenestration and poison. Most malaria cases are in remote areas away from what we'd call civilization; there it's just part of a long list of causes of premature death. Malaria deaths in the first world are rare. The pool incidents are pretty much the only question marks, but how much can you safeguard against a precocious kid who figured out how you open a lock and remove a safety net?

  18. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Prior art

    (c) The Weapon Shops of Isher.

  19. MrXavia

    The problem is not the guns, the problem is the people that get hold of them...

    If gun ownership required an evaluation by a psychologist and all guns to be stored in a secure safe, then gun crime and accidents would be reduced...

    1. PTW


      First sentence is spot on! Thank you! However it goes downhill from there.

      Not one anti-gun group or politician EVER says how they'll remove guns from criminals, and no, they're not all stolen from legitimate holders! Full-auto firearms [machine guns] have been banned in the UK since the 1920's but are still used in drug turf wars.

      But to answer your second point, in the UK it is a requirement to supply your GP's details on your application/renewal for a firearms certificate. They [police] received short shrift on the phone from mine;

      "...I'm not a psychiatrist, but I know enough to tell you if I was, I could not give any guarantee that a patient I see today will not have an episode tomorrow or at some other time in the future. For that is the way of mental illness."

      And just to add, remove Washington, Chicago, Detroit & IIRC Philly and the US falls to #33 on the world league table of firearms deaths - the only "Gun Problem" in the US is a criminal one


  20. Anonymous Coward


    Judge Dredd manages quite successfully with a smart gun. I would suggest that the principle of safety first is sound, it's the technology that isn't up to speed yet. Go back to the drawing board.

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: Lawgiver

      untill his genetic twin got hold of it....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lawgiver

        Very first thing I thought of when someone said 'smart gun'. And then it turned out to be nothing but a killswitch on the kill switch.

  21. imanidiot Silver badge

    Missing the point

    The problem in the US with firearms safety (When it comes to unintentional discharges) is not the the gun. The problem is in lack of training and understanding/care by the owner of the firearm. I am sure there are many responsible and well trained gun owners that carry their weapon daily without problem and keep it safe when they don't have it on their person. Counter to that there are so many people who own a gun that never even give a second thought on using it or how to carry it safely. Personal anecdote: I've met a person in the US who told me she had .32 gun in her purse at all times, never took it out and had never shot it. Not even on a range. She had never considered what could happen with that gun in the home when children come to visit or how she would use it if she ever actually needed it. As it was just a friend of a friend all I could do was advise her to go to a local range, bring the gun in and get some instruction on how to (un)load and fire the thing safely... According to her she wasn't the only one in her circle of friends to have a (probably) loaded gun in the house without a second thought or a proper safe storage location.

    1. Jay 2

      Re: Missing the point

      A tad worrying that said person has never fired the gun (in a range etc) and doesn't maintain it. As you say, it makes you wonder what would happen when they think they need to use it...

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point

        probably either nothing at all (because they forgot the safety) or *click*.

  22. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Comming between an american and his gun

    It just doesn't happen. How many times has Obama been on TV about a mass shooting by kids using their parents gun or people with a mental disorder, or ...

    This is the problem The SMART gun is to solve, but it must be tied with qualification to own one in the first place.

    This is not to stop the sensible law abiding citizen owning a gun, but those who don't know the common sense of how to keep and use it.

    On top of this, the gun is possibly the worst weapon for use in close combat, as any armed forces instructor will tell you, and why special forces are trained in several martial arts.

    It suffers a similar issue to the Lance, in that once your past the pointy end, its only use is as a club, and there are better clubs, and knives are even better.

    1. Jay 2

      Re: Comming between an american and his gun

      Hmm, I'm now reminded of the fact that many politicians will think that the addition of a little (extra) technology to the mix will somehow solve whatever particular problem they have in mind.

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      Re: Comming between an american and his gun

      Maybe make gun ownership only possible for those willing to adhere to the Second Amendment and who are prepared to actually be be part of, quote: "A well regulated Militia" and not a ragtag of individuals who want to wave guns around

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Comming between an american and his gun

        Except SCOTUS has already given them the outs they need. By 1790 definition, "regulated" can mean "equipped", so having a sidearm qualifies, and they made gun ownership an INDIVIDUAL right since a militia has no minimum (it can be a militia of ONE).

  23. nijam Silver badge

    Out of interest (and only slight interest at that), the USA Constitution is is usually reported as mentioning the right to bear arms - rather than, specifically, the right to use them.

    Perhaps someone better informed can clarify whether there is a constitutional right to *use* the weapons the Constitution lets you *bear*.

  24. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    Second Amendment

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    A disgruntled redneck wanting to take potshots, a grumpy granny intent on "self defence" and all the other sundry wannabe bang bang owners are NOT a "A well regulated Militia"

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Second Amendment

      WRONG, according to SCOTUS. A militia has no minimum so can be ONE, AND carrying a sidearm is considered being properly equipped or "regulated" according to 1790 definitions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Second Amendment

        Isn't the purpose of a militia to defend the country against foreign invaders, not a citizen from his neighbour?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Second Amendment

          "...against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

          Part of the US Oath of Allegiance.

  25. thx1138v2

    The wisdom of Yogi Berra

    "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

  26. Jim-234

    To all the politicians - You first!

    How about first we mandate that all those protecting the politicians and rich elites are only allowed to use "smart" guns, no exceptions allowed, then we'll see how that goes for a couple years.

    My guess is they will find all kinds of reasons why they need to wriggle out from under it and get their guards back to using normal guns.

    How come even in "enlightened" Europe where defending oneself from harm is practically forbidden, we don't see the local police using "smart" guns exclusively? -- The simple answer is the politicians don't want to have the chance of being killed as their guards are wiped out while waiting for their smart guns to unlock.

    Recreational shooters in the USA in competition often range a 1.1 to 1.4 second hands off holster to bullet hitting the target shot time, so how long again was that smart gun going to take to unlock?

    I doubt very many people who actually understand electronics and computer systems will want to have their last line of defense for their lives / family / safety / liberty be at the whims and failures of some electronic computer system that could be messed with in untold numbers of ways.

    Now if your country does not let you defend yourself & only begrudgingly lets you use a gun at some special shooting range, then this may be less of an issue, but in those cases, usually the guns are all locked up all the time anyways so it's a moot point.

  27. Lotaresco

    All the way back to 1951

    "The Isher/Weapon Shops novels are very rare examples of Golden Age science fiction that explicitly discuss the right to keep and bear arms, specifically guns. Indeed, the motto of the Weapon Shops, repeated several times, is "The right to buy weapons is the right to be free". Van Vogt's guns have virtually magical properties, and can only be used in self-defense (or for suicide)."

    So to be useful a smart gun needs to recognise not only who is using it (Tssk, tssk, no, you can't use if you are in the service of the Empress, Innelda Isher) but also who or what it is being used against. It also needs to be threat sensitive to prevent illegal use.

    We'll have to wait until June 4784 to see such weapons available to purchase for reasonable prices.

  28. W4YBO

    Once upon a time...

    In the spring of 1986, I was at my main FM transmitter site about 3:00 AM running some audio tests on the backup Studio-to-transmitter link and exercising the backup generator under load. As I finished up for the night, I felt Mother Nature's call graduate to Mother Nature jumping up and down and cussing. I'd asked my coworkers to not pee around the building (smelled awful in summer), so I trotted off to the edge of the woods about a hundred yards away. As I was walking back to lock up I heard the proverbial "bustle in your hedgerow". When I turned to look, a full grown (300-400 pounds) feral hog emerged, tusks and all, bearing down on me at a full run. I took off running as fast as I could, and jumped onto the hood (bonnet) and then the roof of my Subaru station wagon. The hog, just a couple of seconds behind me, proceeded to vent his anger on the passenger side of my car, actually tearing the metal in several places. He had worked at it for several minutes when I realized that when I laid down flat on the car roof, he couldn't see me. He finally wandered off after another half an hour or so.

    This event convinced me that I needed to start carrying a firearm. I had been shooting several times with friends, a brother-in-law, and at camp, so I had the basics, but I got one of the radio station's account reps to introduce me to the proprietor of one of the area's bigger gun stores. He got me set up with instruction at a local range. (I kinda took to it. In 1987/88 I fired more than *ten-thousand* rounds of ammunition, mostly .22, but many .357 Magnum/.38 Special (1957 three-screw Ruger Blackhawk) and 9mm (Beretta 92FS and Taurus PT-92)).

    If I encountered this same situation today, I would draw on the run (actually hobble instead of run - arthritic knees), and fire a mix of ball and hollow-point ammo until the hog stopped or ran me down. No hogs so far, but I have dispatched a rabid raccoon and an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. (Can't let a poisonous snake take up residence near a transmitter building or you *will* find said snake warming himself in the transmitter. Snakes rarely injure humans, but humans injure themselves getting away from snakes.) If I'm in bear country, particularly in late fall or early spring, I'll have Elmer's Boy, a S&W Model 29, along for the ride.

    I have a Nexus 6P that I usually unlock with the fingerprint sensor. It misses once or twice out of every ten times. Enabling a firearm that you need RFN with a similar mechanism could be deadly, or at least very hurtful. I think I'll stick with good training and sensible handling for everyone that has access to my firearms. I'll place my faith in a mechanical lockwork that has been demonstrated safe and reliable since 1873 (Colt SAA, similar lockwork in my Blackhawk).

  29. rdhood

    " every 30 minutes in the United States on average a child dies or is injured by a firearm."

    "Kloepfer told CBS: "I learned that every 30 minutes in the United States on average a child dies or is injured by a firearm."

    Which is a blatant lie that can be disproved by any number of sources by anyone in this forum in less than two minutes. It doesn't help the anti-gun agenda to just lie and make up statistics, and it doesn't help that CBS allows that lie to go unchallenged. " I heard XXXXXX" is what passes for journalism now, and the press wonders why they have a trust problem.

    1. Potemkine Silver badge
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " every 30 minutes in the United States on average a child dies or is injured by a firearm."

        Well, when you do your research, how about trying to find an unbiased source instead of THE most biased anti gun source you can? You would make a great MSNBC reporter.

        How about the CDC?


        you can see that for under 14, the number of injuries due to guns totals 288. PERIOD. I'd be more worried about an ungated backyard pool.

        That's about right. Now, if you look at the 15-24 age group... a group which Brady would refer to as "kids", that number jumps to about 7000. But the VAST majority of those are gang and drug related, similar to what is happening in Chicago right now (Which, BTW, has the most strict gun laws in the nation).

        So, keep looking beyond BRADY, and look for the truth. And the truth is: outside of gang and drug activity, there are VERY FEW children's deaths per 330 million people (about ONE PER MILLION PEOPLE). Further, about 98% of those are by handguns. The dreaded "Assault Rifle" accounts for less than about 125 deaths per year, or about 1 in 3,000,000

        But if you are going to Brady for your statistics, then you aren't really interested in facts or the truth. You are interested in propagating a lie, like this reporter.

  30. Zebo-the-Fat

    I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun.

    1. W4YBO

      Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."


      Because guys built like us (hey, you said it first) can't run from trouble as well as we used to. Because God made Man, but Sam Colt made them equal (particularly women). Because sometimes you're the lion, and sometimes you're the antelope (If the antelope had a choice, what do you think he'd do).

      I outweigh my wife by about 120 pounds. I'd never strike her for two reasons: 1. I love her dearly, and I was brought up properly. 2. She can shoot much better than I can run.

      Sounds like you need a trip to the range. I've known quite a few folks that started with your attitude, and after experiencing shooting, end up with mine.

      1. Zebo-the-Fat

        Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."

        Living in the UK for 62 years, I never even saw a gun in real life until about 10 years ago (that was at an airport) we have no native animals likely to attack us, I have never been in a situation where I felt the need to kill or threaten anyone. So no need for a gun (or even a big stick!)

        Americans claim guns keep them safe, but there are more gun deaths in a week in America than in a year in the UK, even allowing for the difference in population size I know which feels safer to me.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."

          "Americans claim guns keep them safe, but there are more gun deaths in a week in America than in a year in the UK, even allowing for the difference in population size I know which feels safer to me."

          But most of those gun deaths are committed ON criminals BY criminals: usually in gang wars. Another sizeable chunk are suicides using the gun as low-hanging fruit (meaning they would easily switch methods if it wasn't available, making the actual use of the gun pretty moot). Still others are justifiable uses of a gun in self-defense.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."


          I pulled a gig in London.

          Your so called unarmed police are now very well armed.

          I saw one walking around with a nice HK MP5.

          But to your point.

          1) Hunting. Yes we do that. In some states Hunting / Fishing pull in a billion dollars of tourism.

          2) Prevent crop damage. Do you know how much damage deer can do in a field of watermelon or other plants?

          3) Protect the herd.

          a) Poisonous Snakes.

          b) Coyotes

          c) Feral Dogs

          d) Cow birds

          e) armadillos

          f) Crows

          And we haven't even talked about the 2 legged type of individuals who know that you're 35 minutes away from the nearest police station.

          That's why you own a gun.

          Or you like to shoot.

          Or you live in Chicago.

        3. Rum

          Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."

          The situation of the US regarding guns looks like on your side of the pond is what a lazy and generally hostile media wants it to look like,. I live a town of about 14,000 souls in Texas (5th generation). It is not very diverse and gang activity would be dealt with quite briskly if it were to show up. Over the last 30 years the number of times a gun has become violent has been 0, zero. Such stats are carefully kept and fully accessible on line. The larger majority of Americans whose ancestors came here from predominantly your Island or Northern Europe have a similar experiences to tell..But that would a pretty boring news story, wouldnit? Speaking of taking new shooters to the range... use an AR 15 clone with a high end suppressor and a good scope. Minimal recoil, noise reduced, adjustable stock and scope mounting. Pretty soon they start to like it because they are quickly hitting where they want to hit. If they keep shooting they just say, in a clear strong voice, :"I want one of these." Say hello to the most popular gun in America

        4. Lotaresco

          Re: "I still don't understand why any sane adult would ever want or need to own a gun."

          "Living in the UK for 62 years, I never even saw a gun in real life until about 10 years ago"

          I have lived, so far, in the UK for 62 years. Guns were and still are a part of daily life for me. I learned to shoot when I was seven and consider that the lessons that I learned at that time are lessons that are useful in life. I live in a farming area rather than some urban hell-hole so I'm used to using guns for perfectly legitimate purposes.

          If you only saw a gun at an airport ten years ago you're either very unobservant or rarely use airports. I also suspect that you had not been outside the UK before the age of 52, since even nice liberal countries like Sweden have armed police who carry guns openly on the street.

          Shooting is also a pleasant hobby that can be very relaxing. It has elements of self-improvement and also of competition. Until the UK went stark raving bonkers on the subject of guns many people enjoyed the hobby. The portrayal of those who like shooting as psychopaths looking for a place to go postal is unfair to the point of parody. It's as accurate as portraying those who don't like guns as feeble minded knee-jerkers would be.

          I'm guessing that you don't feel the same way about archery since I've not seen loud cries to ban bows in England (although some newspapers have worked up a fit about crossbows) yet a bow is a weapon as well as a sporting article. So by the way are the discus, the javelin and the shot, do you feel like banning those as our Olympians were banned from practicing their sport in the UK by the over-reacters?

          Meanwhile in France and Germany trucks have been used as weapons. Perhaps we should ban trucks?

          "we have no native animals likely to attack us"

          That's not true, there are native animals that are likely to attack you in the UK, even within London. They will kill without warning.

          They look like this.

          There are other native animals that will attack humans. It's just that city folk wander around with their eyes shut and can't see the hazards. Here's a list of some of the native animals that will attack humans.

    2. Rum

      The only legitimate use of a gun (as opposed to training and sport) is in the context of being convinced you have only seconds to live if you cannot stop the actions of another human (or beast). The physical effects of holding this belief are normally extreme. Fine muscle control is wrecked. Hands and fingers tend to shake uncontrollably. Ones sense of time changes drastically. And most people discover feelings of really, really wanting to go on living. If you cannot conceive of ever being in that place, then guns are absurd. If you can, then owning a gun and becoming proficient can be a very logical step. By the way, the loss of motor control and the shaking completely scrupper the notion of depending on finger print reading or grip analysis reading. Even if you thought your gear worked well enough, how would you test it? If you had not tested it in the only environment that it is meant to function in, how could anyone in good conscious offer it as a self-defense tool?

    3. Ian Michael Gumby


      I guess you've never fired a gun.

      Or lived in rural America.

      On the farm, you will find a .22lr rifle, a 16 or 12 gauge shotgun and a hunting rifle.

      (.22lr, .300WM, 7mmRemMag, 16gauge, 12 gauge for me. )

      And yes, I've had to use a 12 gauge only once to stop an individual from doing something stupid.

      Just the sound of it cycling at 5:00 am in the pitch black morning will scare a person in to following orders.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's an 800 # gorilla in this corner, still unseen methinks.

    Many of my fellow gun-owning Americans do not want to be held accountable. They bitterly resent (and aggressively resisted) even the lame requirements to register their weapons, forego a waiting period or a background check, take safety courses, or any other perceived infringements on the NRA's extreme interpretation of the 2nd amendment They will drive hundreds of miles (across State lines sometimes, though there's currently a pesky Federal law about this) to gun-shows to avoid same.

    If this technology works, then a fired gun in and of itself provides at least a "preponderance of evidence" if not foresnics "beyond a reasonable doubt" about the identity of the shooter. Someone who doesn't even want the state to know he / she has a gun certainly won't want to a jury to know they've fired it.

    My shotgun was bought & registered in CA just before the Rodney King riots. I was fortunate enogh to live West of Koreatown so I never needed to use it "in the wild". The Koreans & the LAPD setup a sort of DMZ along Western Ave. (chalk one up fo private gun ownership I suppose), returning the favor my father in law had done their fathers in law back in the old country in the 50's. I am a (somewhat reluctant) civillian gun owner, something which would seem to be unnecessary in a civilized society. Of course, in a civilized society 12 policemen would not beat an unarmed man senseless.

  32. John F***ing Stepp

    Oh crap moment

    I just had a disturbing realization; this d**n thing teaches bad habits.

    You are supposed to keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Oh crap moment

      Jup, almost as bad as the gun light designed to turn on when you put your finger on the trigger... (Can't care enough to remember or search the brandname. Saw it featured in some gunshow videos last year)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so tired of smart $things

    It's a sort of universal red flag now. If they were smart enough to make the thing work, I really hope they were smart enough to not stigmatize it with that word. Throw it out with the e- and i- prefixes, please! Find another way to indicate that your gun has a battery-powered feature, like "semi-noughtomatic" or something.

  34. Potemkine Silver badge

    Smart guns vs Dumb people

    Homicide by firearms are so prevalent in the US that it takes less than 5 years to get more homicides by firearms in the US than US casualties during all the Vietnam war. Having 'smart guns' won't help as long as the culture of violence will be so prevalent in the US, where the homicide rate is over 4 times the one of other western countries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart guns vs Dumb people

      Trouble is, most of the crime is being committed by criminal groups: usually gangs in attacks against other gangs. I'd have to find where I saw it, but the vast majority of gun incidents are gang-on-gang.

  35. Tom Paine

    I'd just like to be able to say....

    ...that I commented on a gun control related thread and didn't get any downvotes at all. Go, me!! \o/

  36. GrumpyKiwi

    The IT equivelent context

    Here we have people who self admittedly "don't own a gun, will never own one, don't see why anyone would want one" telling the rest of us how things should, nay must be.

    The IT equivalent is the upper manager whos IT experience is "I own an iPad and have Facebook" telling us that we need to completely open the firewall and switch off the antivirus.

  37. John PM Chappell

    Most UK people are probably not even qualified to comment ...

    ... and I say that as someone who emigrated to the USA (Texas, in fact), from the UK.

    Setting aside the smart gun idea, for now, let's address the ownership of weapons in a free society. The provision in the constitution, whose addition was initially resisted by the way (more on that, in a moment), reads in modern English as, essentially "Since a free society needs it's able-bodied citizens to be ready and able to defend it, nobody is to be prevented from purchasing and possessing weapons" - this concept taking its inspiration directly from the previous law of the land; English common law, which had long precendent of right to self-defence, and right to own, carry, and use such for it.

    The "militia" is all able-bodied (and presumably, willing) men, as a body, for the defence of the community. It never required any formal organization. "Well regulated" doesn't mean what you think it means, because language shifts usage. It's close to "properly supplied and organized", in current English. It's misinterpretting the phrase "well regulated militia", whether ignorantly or wilfully, that leads to the bogus assertions that the Second Amendment is supposed to apply to the military, in some fashion (unlikely, anyway, there being no standing armed forces), and requiring 'regulation' in modern sense of restrictions and rules.

    So, I said "more on that later", aye? Well, the reason it is an amendment and not in the original constitution itself, is that the "framers" considered it so obvious a right that they didn't see the need to enumerate it. The legislatures were eventually persuaded to add an amendment, over the same objection ("It's unnecessary!") because some states had begun to attempt to regulate possession and purchase of weapons, though it was mostly knives and swords, at that point, believe it or not. That's right! The second amendment never mentions firearms! It's about the right to be ARMED, in the first place, and they didn't feel the need to give special treatment to firearms.

    The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in various ways on this, reflecting, as you'd expect, the political mood of the times. Most recently, however, it has specifically re-iterated that the amendment addresses an individual right, not something granted by membership of a group, per se ("militia of one"), and that the "well regulated" provision means that citizens should have access to weapons that would be useful in defence of person and nation (in other words, if it's good enough for the US Army, etc, it's good enough for a citizen, too). It has also ruled that the amendment is underpinning the right to self-defence, and that self-defence is thus a valid reason for possessing, carrying and using a firearm.

    Now, for the UK issues. If you've never seen a firearm, you might actually be in a minority. I'd dare to suggest that either you've travelled very little, or you're extremely unobservant. In rural Britain they are quite common, in Northern Ireland (part of the UK, remember?) individual ownership of firearms, especially pistols, is common and often recommended to certain persons, by the PSNI (police in the province). British police have been routinely armed for at least a decade, closer to two, in fact, and not only at airports. Once, in very early 2000s, I was returning to my home in Stafforshire, shortly after a football game (unbeknownst to me, as I never paid attention to that game). As I went to step off the train at my home station, I walked into a literal wall of armed, and armoured, police (British Transport Police), all of whom had sidearms (9mm Beretta 92s, at the time), some of whom were carry MP-5 submachine guns. I was briefly questioned about my intentions, then permitted to leave - they were preventing travelling 'fans' from leaving the train to visit pubs and get more drunk. This story is only one of many casual encounters with police who were armed, and when I actually worked for my local force, I daily saw officers who were routinely armed, and no, they were not all members of the "Armed Response Teams". By the time I left the UK, in 2011, the police officers who walked their beat around my town center all carried sidearms.

    Now, perhaps you believe the police should be armed, even if other citizens (they are just citizens, same as you, remember?) are not permitted to be. I pity you, but I left, so whatever. However, you'd be shocked, then, at just how many of your fellow citizens also have regular access to firearms, especially in rural locations. A shotgun licence, even when I left, was 50 GBP, a short form sent to constabularly, and a couple of follow up visits to make sure you had proper storgae for firearms and ammunition (plus a check in with your GP). Many, many rural dwellers have shotguns, most of them probably legal (but by no means, all - lots of farmers and other rural people never complied with the legislative changes and never registered their firearms). They're out in the country, though, so no problem ... how about the drug-dealing thugs in the cities, then? I was indirectly threatened with a firearm twice during my life in the UK, in both cases the person in question was a "convicted felon" as they say in these parts, and was known to be regularly armed. In the case of one, when he was no longer upset at the imagined slight, I had occasions to see the five pistols he illegally owned, all of which he assured me worked, and all of which were modern automatic pistols. No guns in the UK? Give me a break! Safer for it? I wish!

    Ah, you say, "you've been unlucky, and I have never felt threatened". Well, if so, good for you. Didn't go out much, did you? Every weekend that I went out in my youth, and even into my late 20s and early 30s, I either witnessed violent assaults or was involved in them (usually, once older and less stupid, as an unwilling defendant). This was, and likely is, so normal for much of the UK, that when I initially came to the USA, I was a little scared. After all, I'm in Texas, where people have (relatively, though by no means as easy as some think) easy access to firearms. The first few times I went out, I was on edge, but never saw any violence at all. Eventually, as I continued to socialize, it dawned on me that while Texas does have far more guns, in all likelihood, than my 'home' in the UK, people are actually *much less violent*. Guess what? The crime statistics bear this out. Sure, US gun crime is much higher than UK (more guns, most of the legal, too), it's violent crime rates are mostly lower, in reality. Especially for violent assaults, knife crime, etc. More burglaries, in some states though :(

    I'm now a citizen, and even before then, I purchased firearms once I was legally able to do so. Not only for defence, though in this state, I'm permitted to have firearms in my vehicle with no special "permit" required, but also for sport at the various ranges in the area. I have what we now call a "Licence to Carry", which permits me to carry a pistol, concealed or openly (subject to rules about being properly holstered) as I wish, in most places, unless they are a private business that expressly tells me I am not welcome to do so. I am almost always so-armed, and not because I am scared, but because I believe, along with many Texans, and many in the USA at large, that "An armed society is a polite society", and because in the unlikely event I need to actually shoot at someone, I don't want to wish that I'd brought one of my pistols with me, while I hope the police arrive before I, or someone else, is killed. I've "used" my pistol twice in the time I have been here, and both uses were to show that I was armed and state that I was prepared to use force if the behaviour did not stop. Once was an abusive visitor to a neighbour, the other was someone (actually a group of three) who approached me in a sparse parking lot (carpark) with likely intent to rob me; the first case caused the aggressor to resort to hurling insults, rather than attempting to continue closing on me with obvious intent to assault, before he went back inside, as I calmly walked away. Once he left, that neighbour thanked me for stepping in. The second time, the person approaching me realized I had clocked him (and actually I had clocked his two buddies, as well), stopped short then took off back towards the supermarket, his friends doing likewise when I turned to look at them. These kinds of incidents are what others are talking about when they mention "defensive use of handgun", and I reported neither incident to the police (there seemed no real need in the latter case, though it might have been a good idea, in hindsight, with the first incident, my neighbour asked me not to, since it would cause her personal trouble and he was already known to them).

    In the UK, my options in case one would have been "don't get involved" or "call the police", unless I wanted to get into a fracas, and likely end up being assaulted, and facing counter charges of assaulting him. In case two, I guess my only option would have been "try to get to my vehicle before they get to it, or me". None of those options seem to be ideal, so I'll take my gun ownership, thanks.

    Oh, to my friend in "Tejas" - you can drink while armed, you simply must not become intoxicated while in possession of a firearm. We drive everywhere, though, so you wouldn't do that anyway, would you?

    Anyway, I'm glad that my schooling included being taught to shoot a shotgun, at clays, when I was 7 through 13, in good old England. Where there are "no guns".

    Anyway, wall of text, so thanks to those who read it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Most UK people are probably not even qualified to comment ...

      Nothing against you personally, just a challenge to one of the quotes mentioned in your text.

      If an armed society is a polite society, why are the Middle East, Central America, and any area contested by gangs so UNruly?

      As for my stance, I'm personally divided. As much as I see the virtue of an armed society, I can also see both extremes. ANY form of curb or control can be twisted and stretched to achieve a blanket ban (a la voter tests), but NO control invites chaos. Frankly, I don't think we'll ever find a permanent solution; the middle in this case is UNhappy.

  38. ThePhantom

    ROFL - I have to enter my PIN a dozen times a day when my iPhone 6s doesn't recognize any of my stored prints -- and I have to re-enter them from scratch around every 30-45 days when they stop working entirely.

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