“Smart” Guns

My lovely wife points this out.


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

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9 thoughts on ““Smart” Guns

  1. Yeah, there are reasons every place that’s tried to/has passed some law on these specifically exempts law enforcement from having to comply.

    And those reasons are why I don’t want the damn things, either.

    • Isn’t that funny that when they legislate for our own good, cops have exemptions? If it was really good for us, then why not for the LEOs? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  2. The concept has been around for decades.

    Back in the 1970s, a guy named Richard Devoid invented the “Mag-na-trigger,” which was a modification to the then-commonplace types of police service revolvers so that they wouldn’t work unless the user wore a ring on one of his fingers in a certain way, in a certain orientation, so that it would pull a little locking plunger out of the way and allow the trigger to roll back. I believe that since the inventor’s death, his heirs fought for some years in court over who’d have the rights to sell it, and this went on for long enough that police departments switched to semiauto pistols. Nowadays if you want one, you can Google for a company called Tarnhelm Supply that claims, in a suspiciously 1990s-looking Web page, to have the last conversion kits in stock, and will sell them to you, some assembly required.

    Even then, with a strictly mechanical system, this didn’t sell. It required some fairly expensive machine work to be done on the revolver’s frame to install the kit, which did not appeal to law enforcement agencies. The mechanism’s tolerances were close, and improper assembly or improper lubrication could make it unreliable. It wouldn’t work if you’d taken off the magnetic ring to wash your hands. And these days, a K-frame S&W revolver is regarded by anyone under about forty years of age as the missing link between the wheel-lock and modern firearms, so they’re not big sellers.

    The modern electronic “smart gun” idea is all of this plus all of the uncertainties introduced by dead batteries, damaged keyboard buttons, broken antennas, and software problems, and also gives us the sneaking suspicion that the idea is being pushed by the sort of people who would dearly love to be able to click on a button on a screen in their Washington offices and disable all the firearms in civilian hands on the continent at once.

    No thanks. I’ll stick with what I have now.

  3. Very well said Michael. For me I’ll refuse, period. I even dropped my Aimpoint in favor of an optic for my race gun for many of those same reasons. I don’t even really like collapsible stocks.

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