“Smart” Guns

My lovely wife points this out.

smartgun

The pistol itself is pretty. It has lovely lines and is pleasing to the eye. Although I’d like to get on board with the whole idea of techy guns, I live in real life. Jennifer brings up the question of batteries, which is a good one. When you need to charge or replace the batteries in your watch or gun, does that mean that the gun isn’t available for defensive use? Damn, someone is breaking down the door, but my gun is on the charger with my phone and e-cig! The question of batteries only scratches the surface of the fail here.

The concept of my gun only working for me is a lovely one I guess, but I know that two out of three printer drivers won’t work on my laptop’s OS to send print jobs to the laser printer. The one driver that does work doesn’t like certain image files or font sets.

I know that there are movies that won’t play on our Blu Ray player unless we have the latest firmware, and it’s difficult to predict when it will happen. What happens when your pistol needs a firmware update? Cleaning guns is one thing, but how would you like the routine of clean and download/install firmware?

Sometimes our router crashes and our network fails to network. I know how often I have to restart the router because the network has crashed. Better not have a gunfight during an update.

Remember sliding a cartridge into your Nintendo only to have the game not boot properly, and trying it all over again? Ever blow into the end of a game cartridge to dislodge offending dust particles? Kids, ask your parents. It would be a crap ton of bad luck if you feared for your life and had to reboot your gun. That’s just a smidge more than rack-tap-bang. Try blowing into your gun to see if that will fix it. There are people out there that only carry DA revolvers because the reboot process consists of simply pulling the trigger once more.

There are many of us who can’t wear a quartz* watch without it going dead. Does the control watch itself have EM shielding? Are the electronics in the watch and pistol water/shock/freeze proof? A gun that shorts out and won’t work in the rain is as useless as a paperweight.

As a kid, I remember playing with remote controlled cars and planes with my friends. You couldn’t run more than two at a time, because of RF interference. It would be embarrassing at the range and deadly in a struggle if such interference locked up the gun. I need to defend my life against this bad guy, but I can’t get too close to wireless device because my gun won’t work there.

With any device that has complications that may cause failure, users must be diligent in confirming function. Does owning one of these guns necessitate a home range with a backstop so you can fire one off before you holster it for the day? You know, just to make sure you don’t have to reboot it or reestablish the link to the watch so you know that it will actually go bang instead of locking up like a blue screen of death.

Just as many people carry revolvers as opposed to semiautomatic pistols, the more than century-old semiautomatic shotgun has not eclipsed the pump-action or break action for home defense, sporting purposes, or range time. This is because in the case of a defensive weapon, or any life tool for that matter, simplicity is king. We pull the lock flags out of our S&W revolvers so the mechanism won’t lock up and brick our guns when we’re at the range, in competition, in the field, or defending ourselves. If we hack a pistol such as this so it’s functional without its activation watch, we risk giving ammo to a prosecutor. Remove and/or bypass the electronics in this beauty like we mod an Xbox for better function, and a jury of your peers will hang you. I don’t even particularly like electronic sights, because as useful as they may be, the fear that they may fail jaundices them to my eye, and the likelihood is far less than the failure of the can of worms that this pistol system is.

I fear that legislators are pushing for technology such as this. If we were ever put under such onerous encoding, what would become of legacy guns? Would they be grandfathered or would we be required to retrofit or simply ordered to turn in our dumb guns? I shudder to think of the sight of my S&W M29 with some retrofit device bolted to it. And, many of us have guns that represent historical significance or family heritage and it would be many levels of natural crime to deprive us of them, even if these pieces never fired another bullet downrange for the rest of their future existence. This is the essence of the danger of people who don’t have any knowledge of gun culture or gun function getting into gun design or legislation. They outlaw the shoulder thing that goes up or mandate fictional technology that optimistically is dodgy in its execution.

No thanks. I carry a polymer frame pistol. It has a flashlight on it. That’s about as high-tech as I’m going to get with it. Whenever something like this comes up, we must be diligent to stomp it out like stray embers from a camp fire. Because, just like so many stray embers can burn down the forest, high-hope technology like this threatens our culture and our literal survival.

*edited for spelling

More on Mechanical Watches

Not to mention the times I’ve referred to my preference for mechanical watches in other venues, I have discussed it here several times. So much so in fact, that I just added “watches” as a category on this blog. When I was a child, I would get a cheap digital watch every now and then. These things would last for anywhere between two and six weeks when I wore them. It was terribly frustrating. When I was in high school, a friend of mine and I would often spend a Saturday hopping across the state border to Dallas, where we would check out record stores and the Galleria Mall. At the time, there was a store in the Galleria that sold Soviet surplus stuff. My friend bought a beautiful officer’s top coat in that store in extremely heavy gray wool. That coat had a double-breasted closure with red star buttons spaced at about four inches apart that buttoned all the way up to the chin. I bought my first mechanical watch in that store. It was a manual wind, Soviet paratrooper watch made in Russia by Vostok.

As I recall, this watch cost about $35 and was the first watch that I managed to wear longer than six weeks. I wore this one for two or three years, in fact. It has a nifty, gasketed, screw-down crown that keeps the water out when it is submerged. One time, I had a girl timing me with it while I held my breath underwater. She didn’t believe that I could hold my breath longer than five minutes. Somehow, the crown got unscrewed and the watch was ruined. At this point, it will wind and run, but it no longer keeps time, and will stop far sooner than it did when it was new. It’s probably not worth fixing, but I keep it around for the memories. It met its demise when Jennifer and I were dating. Seeing how much I had enjoyed my mechanical watch, Jennifer bought me a brand new Seiko Automatic Diver as a present. She often comments that it was more money than she had previously spent on a present for anyone.

One of the neat things about Seiko is the organization of their records keeping. With a little Google-fu, anyone can date a Seiko pretty closely. As far as I can tell, this one was made in August of 1994. Jennifer bought it for me in 1998, so it had been sitting in the jewelry case for a while. I had it overhauled a few years ago, and put a stainless steel bracelet on it after getting fed up with countless leather straps.

When we were getting ready for Christmas of 2007, we were doing pretty well for money at the time and decided to use the opportunity to buy nice anniversary gifts for each other. Our anniversary is on December 5, and even though that Christmas coordinated with our ninth anniversary, we thought that it would be nice to have the whole year to enjoy our ten-year anniversary gifts. Yes, we may be crazy. We’re having fun though. It was that Christmas that Jennifer gave me my first Swiss watch – a Tag Heuer chronograph.

This was a pre-owned unit that we had professionally overhauled shortly after purchase. Unfortunately, I think we could have found a more professional watchmaker for the task as this one has never kept time quite right, and the chronograph mechanism has never operated correctly since the overhaul. The bracelet has an ingenious expansion tab so it can be worn directly on a bare wrist or over a dive suit.

I’d really like to take this one to another watch shop so I can get more wrist time with it. It’s simply too nice a piece to not get use out of. I’ve had a few more novelty watches through the years too. One Christmas, Jennifer’s parents bought us a matching his & hers pair of no-name autos that were Chinese made junkers. They were pretty, in polished bi-metal with exhibition backs, but neither one would keep time, they weren’t water resistant, and I don’t even know where they landed. Jennifer once bought me a Pinky and The Brain themed wind-up pocket watch.

And yet, one of the strangest watches I’ve worn was a BMW-branded, fake Panerai Luminor GMT automatic. It had mineral crystals on the front and back and the construction seemed fairly solid. It was actually rather puzzling why the manufacturer chose to make an imitation of another product with unlicensed logos on it when they could have made a half way decent product of their own.

I accidentally broke the crystal seal out of the exhibition back on this watch and didn’t feel like it was worth attempting to fix. About three years ago, I kind of missed my old Soviet paratrooper watch and decided that I’d like another Vostok. As it turns out, the Vostok company survived the fall of communism and currently makes watches for the open market. I found a Vostok Amphibia automatic I liked on eBay and ordered it up.

This is a cool watch. The crown screws down just like its Soviet predecessor. Unfortunately, the crystal appears to be acrylic. Also, the bracelet was sized for a Siberian grizzly. I have sized a watch bracelet before, so I attacked the Vostok undaunted. The link pins were resistant to all manner of tooling I’ve ever used before on a watch bracelet. I wound up destroying one of the links beyond repair, and resolved myself to the notion that I would need to purchase a new bracelet for it. That was shortly before I got laid off from traditional employment, so this watch went to the back burner, i.e. my underwear drawer. Last weekend, I found a gold tone, 1970’s era Seiko 5 at a garage sale for fifty cents.

It’s certainly not in mint condition, but not only does it run, but it keeps time as well. In case you aren’t familiar with this iconic classic, Seiko’s “5” designation means that it:
1. Has an automatic movement
2. Is waterproof
3. Is shock proof
4. Displays the calendar date
5. Displays the day of the week.
According to my questionable dating methods, this watch was made in January of 1970. It needs a new bracelet and it couldn’t hurt to have it overhauled and a new crystal installed. Still, the watch seems serviceable enough to justify this additional cost. I may just put the work into this one that it needs and make it Teen Bot’s first real watch. Jennifer has been wearing a 1981 Seiko 5 for the last 13 years that she received as a hand-me-down from her mother. I was searching the internet for a suitable bracelet for the Seiko 5, and decided to drag out the Vostok and look for a bracelet for it at the same time. That’s when I found this.

That is a pair of watch bracelet pin pliers that I ordered for $11.00 after shipping. I figured I’d wind up paying more than that for a bracelet for the Vostok and would likely use them more than a few times. And, they might just work on what was left on the factory Vostok bracelet for that matter! Well, they did actually. Within fifteen minutes of receiving the package, I had the Vostok bracelet sized and adjusted, and I’m wearing the watch right now!

It’s funny. I never thought that I’d be one of those guys who had a bunch of watches. And yet, they’ve kind of accumulated. I do intend to get the Tag fixed when I can afford to. I’ve probably worn the Seiko diver that Jennifer bought for me before we were married more than all the others combined. If you’d like to start wearing mechanical watches but you’re worried about the price, I’d encourage you to consider the options. The purchase price of my higher quality watches ranged from less than a dollar on up to around a thousand. And, I’ve spent very little time wearing the thousand dollar watch. Conventional wisdom might cause you to shy away from anything but a Swiss or Japanese movement. The Seiko that I have worn so much, my trusty workhorse, has a Singapore-made movement. Do an Amazon search for “Seiko automatic” and I suspect you’ll find something you like for less than $100.00. That watch should provide a half century of performance with a little maintenance.