Gun Control

Why Don't Tech Innovators Solve America's Gun Problems?

Maybe because what tech could do for gun violence would affect only a tiny portion of an overall falling public health problem.


Why haven't the big money and big brains of high-tech turned their power and wealth and cool, cool reason to stopping gun violence, wonders Scott Rosenberg at BackChannel in his article: "Why the Tech Industry Shuns America's Gun Problem: Silicon Valley's change-the-world-ism doesn't seem to apply to gun violence."

kengo via / CC BY-NC-ND

Along with President Obama, Rosenberg wonders why we can't make all guns like we can apparently make smartphones: unusable without the right fingerprint, or otherwise personalized so only one owner can ever use it?

My own old school smartphone just has numerical code locks, but the point is: we can and usually do make it near impossible for anyone but us, and slightly hard and inconvenient even for us, to use our phones. Why not the same for our guns?

Rosenberg lays out his lament about such "gun safety" tech measures as if it is self-evident most actual owners of guns should want them: "If we can put a computer in everyone's pocket, why can't we do something about the 300,000 gun deaths in the U.S. over the last decade, or figure out how to make the 300 million guns at large in the country a little bit safer?"

As the rest of the article makes clear, Rosenberg is even on his own terms absurdly overselling what effect the sort of "smartgun" technologies his article is about could possibly have on that huge death number he tosses out.

As I wrote at the time Obama was prominently talking them up:

better gun safety technologies….may well be a great thing for those that want them. If gun owners overwhelmingly want better computerized trigger locks, child safety devices and the like, and perhaps they do, they will eventually have them, if they are willing to pay for them.

But people who want guns for instant emergency self defense might not want a weapon only as easy to use instantly as a locked iPhone. People who can't afford high-tech gadgets might want access to a self-defense weapon that is not an expensive high-tech gadget.

Tom Hartsfield at RealClearScience wrote in more detail about why a smart gun owner just might not want a smartgun, even if all the powers of Silicon Valley worked on developing them:

Gun technology changes very little over time. This isn't due to lack of scientific progress or some conspiracy. Quite simply, a reliable tool should be as simple as it can possibly be. A cleaned, oiled, mechanically sound gun is extremely simple. It doesn't suffer from unnecessary complications that risk failure at a crucial instant.

A gun should not be like a high-tech complex scientific tool or tech toy. If your iPhone crashes or drops a call you can simply wait for it to reboot or call back…

When the moment comes to use your firearm, you need it to work perfectly with no delay or fiddling. There is zero margin for error. A more complex gun, reliant on batteries and chips and special mechanisms, is simply a gun that is more likely to let you down in the moment when your life hangs in the balance.

Rosenberg's entire framing of the issue doesn't even really consider a gun owner's possible, even likely, desire for an uncomplicated, instant use weapon. (Though even some writers very dedicated to gun rights, such as RealClearPolitics's Robert VerBruggen, look forward to owning a good smartgun. The tradeoffs seem worthwhile to him.)

The fact that most guns can be easily and instantly used in the hands of both owner and nonowner can at times turn to tragedy, when, say, a child or someone else unused to weapons gets a hold of it. And it can lead to at least a big potential problems if it's stolen—gun thefts happen, probably, over 232,000 times a year.

But those situations are still but a tiny, tiny fraction of America's "gun violence problem." How many of those stolen guns are used to harm others by either killing them or otherwise being used in a crime, no one really knows, a spokesman for the FBI's crime statistics division says. We do know reasonably well that buying them legally is not how most criminals get their guns.

Stolen guns, then, are at least somewhat of a problem. But when assessing its nature as a public health or public policy concern, as opposed to just a problem for the person who had valuable property stolen from them, compare that 232,000 yearly stolen gun estimate to the 33,636 total firearm deaths (homicide, suicide, and accident) in 2013, the latest CDC figures. Every stolen gun does not lead to a public health tragedy, by any means. 

As for the problem of someone other than the user getting hold of a gun and causing an accidental gun death, that is a subset of the total number of accidental gun deaths. And according to the CDC, accidental gun deaths have fallen as a problem since 1999.

That year that saw a total of 824 such deaths for a rate of 0.3 per 100,000. By 2014, that number had fallen to a total of 586, for a rate of 0.2. And the raw number of such accidental gun deaths has been below 650 a year every year since 2006. Accidental gun deaths are not a growing crisis. Neither in the past two decade have been gun murders, which have fallen by half. 

Nonfatal gun injuries are also a problem, though perhaps not one most people would consider so vital it requires all tech industry hands on deck. Even there, according to figures from the CDC, accidental nonfatal firearm injuries for those under 19 (most likely to harm themselves with someone else's gun) have been falling in both numbers and rates this century.

From 2001-2003 inclusive, for example, there were 12,838 such accidental nonfatal gun injuries for age 19s and under, for an age-adjusted rate of 5.21 per 100,000.

From 2011-2013 inclusive, America saw a raw number of just 8,696 such nonfatal accidental injuries for people 19 and under, for an age-adjusted rate of 3.45 per 100,000.

Given the general hardiness of a gun, even in a world where every new gun was a smartgun, the country would still be awash with more than one dumb gun for every person. They won't be disappearing or becoming useless anytime soon.

In light of all the above facts, the most likely explanation for a lack of concerted effort on the part of Silicon Valley powers toward "gun violence" is just an intelligent recognition of a problem not quite at crisis levels, and barely within their power to affect. One should be able to admit that's true regardless of how upsetting every gun death that might perhaps have been prevented by smartgun tech surely is.

That might be the most apt explanation for why the smartgun "concept might inspire moon-shot rhetoric, but right now the actual companies and organizations taking on this challenge feel closer in scale and impact to a backyard model-rocket launch." Getting government to demand such tech will do wonders for the businesses trying to make and sell them, which is what many in the gun control movement want. Rosenberg's article introduces you to some of the thinkers and industrialists who would benefit from such a legal demand.

Rosenberg makes much of the fact that on a National Rifle Association enemies list of sorts, "Among the nearly 300 Hollywood stars, musicians, movie producers, writers, business people and other notable personalities that appear on that list, you won't find a single prominent name from the technology or startup worlds" as if this should be a source of tech industry shame.

The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation Rosenberg talks about at length, which tries to do fresh work in the smartgun area, did, he writes, raise "about $3 million total in 2013 and 2014" from sources that include "a handful of people here in Silicon Valley" though those in the field consider "the amounts of money tech luminaries were putting behind smart guns dismissed as 'paltry' and insufficient." Well, they would.

So Rosenberg's three reasons for why the tech industry isn't solving the gun violence problem are, first, that "there's no data"—which isn't true, though I'm sure he would consider the abundant data there is "paltry and insufficient." As explained above, the data about the actual extent and trends of the problems solvable by smartgun tech in and of itself are a very good reason for it not to be high on anyone's list of moonshot projects.

I think that probably settles the matter. But Rosenberg also notes a second reason, correctly, that guns are a politically contentious issue in a world where in theory "Tech investors prefer to stand above the partisan fray, and even those who have more of a stomach for public policy debates might quail at the level of vitriol the gun issue triggers."

He also notes a third reason: that "There's just no natural constituency" since "Tech entrepreneurs and investors flock most avidly to ideas that meet their own needs" and "even if you're an investor with liberal leanings and friends, getting involved with smart guns means actually dealing with gun people, which could be, you know, awkward or unpleasant." (That last phrase explains so much about why Rosenberg felt that this poorly thought out article was worth writing.)

Smartgun tech is also a problem whose "solution" would require, to even dream of being at all effective, forcing lots of gun owners into a tech they likely don't want, to have a small effect on a problem that—again, however horrifying it is in those rare occasion when an unpersonalized gun is used to harm—would be very far down the list in any rational cost-benefit analysis for best place to look to increase the social good and public health in America today.

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  1. Along with President Obama, Rosenberg wonders why we can’t make all guns like we can apparently make smartphones: unusable without the right fingerprint, or otherwise personalized so only one owner can ever use it?

    There’s no market for it.

    1. actually,there IS a market for it; police and Secret Service. They are at risk to have their guns taken from them in a struggle,they lose or have their guns stolen FAR more than most people know.(many 1000’s of them)
      It would be EASY for Comrade Obama to mandate that all FEDGOV armed employees use only “smart” guns. Just a “stroke of his pen”. They could prove the technology works.
      But they all recognize that “smart” guns are NOT reliable. Not good when it’s your LIFE that is at risk.

      And if police and Secret Service aren’t willing to rely on “smart” guns,then why should us civilians risk our lives with them?

      1. I’ll bet that the secret service and police don’t want them.

        1. Have you asked them?

      2. Police forces have already made their complete and utter lack of desire for smartguns plain. They already understand that a shooter may have only a split second to react and fire and the gun malfunctioning even for a short duration can be the difference between living and living after having shot a guy in the neck during a DUI arrest.

        And, like when NY mandated 7 round magazines, the cops plead operational neccessity to get their own waiver from the requirements.

        1. Many cops don’t even want body cameras for themselves (or civilians filming them in public) but want mass surveillance of all civilians without warrants.

          This may be more about the cops wanting a power differential between them and us than any specific objections to technology. Why else would someone want power except to lord it over someone else?

        2. They need a five-second cooling off period before the gun fires.

        3. The “smart gun” I really want police to be using is one that makes sure the dashcam and body cameras are working the moment you take it out of the holster. (Also, cop cars ought to have “smart doors” that turn on the cameras the moment you open the door.) If cops know their guns won’t work without their cameras working, maybe they’ll stop breaking their cameras.

          This is the first I’ve heard of police disliking guns that nobody else can use; they talk about the risk of perps grabbing their guns.

      3. Yea, that happens, like, all the time.

    2. In the comic books, Mjolnir only could be wielded by its owner Thor. So it’s easy. Barack gave you an order technies, now go do it because social justice and all that.

    3. Sure there is.

      I would prefer to have a smart gun than a typrical handgun in the home. Why not sell both options?
      The author of this article proposes that it would be unfair to ask anyone to trade in their gun for a smart gun. I don’t think that is what anyone wants.
      Sell both..give the public options.

      Currently the Gun lobby has blocked smart gun tech from selling and I think it is a mistake. As a supporter of the 2nd amendment I just don’t see what threat smart guns would pose to the overall cause?

      1. Jeez. No, the “gun lobby” (whatever that is), hasn’t blocked anything, technology has. One company that I’m aware of has produced a prototype that has been plagued by failures. It was a .22, and frequntly the connection between the wrist strap containing the chip that allowed the gun to fire failed. Sorry, I have no interest in a gun that’s “safe”. I want mine as dangerous as possible.

        1. The evidence suggests otherwise. For example from an article in titled “What Obama means when he says the NRA has blocked ‘smart gun’ technology”:

          In 2001 Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the US government promising to install locks on its guns and commit research funding to “smart gun” technology. The negative response from NRA and US gun owners was so fierce that sales dropped, causing the company to lay off 125 employees (paywall). Ultimately Smith & Wesson backed out of its promise. It was the only gun maker to make the deal with the US government to begin with.

          Meanwhile, smaller gun companies that offer smart gun technology have also faced virulent criticism from the gun community. Germany’s Armatix developed the iP1, another gun that only fires when paired with a wristband. But in the past, whenever US retailers announce plans to sell the iP1, death threats have convinced them to pull back.

          1. Criticizing, mocking and not buying = “blocked”?

            Why does the underwear industry keep blocking my Jared Fogle themed tighties?

      2. There is a darn good reason to counsel against producing such firearms.
        When they become available, some state actors will (if they haven’t already) take action to ensure that all future sales employ said technology, needs/wants of the buyer be damned.

        NJ for example has a law on its books that when such technology becomes commercially available that all future handguns sold in that state must have said technology.

        There are of course a few other places around that if they haven’t already added such a mandate would adopt one when such technology becomes commercially available.

        Furthermore, (assuming the ATF approves conditions for allowing the import of firearms) the ATF might decide to establish a similar rule apply to all imported firearms.

  2. Why don’t we make smart pens that stop writing when they detect the user trying to jot down an idiotic thought?

    1. Exploding pens that detect derp?

  3. “If we can put a computer in everyone’s pocket, why can’t we do something about the 300,000 gun deaths in the U.S. over the last decade, or figure out how to make the 300 million guns at large in the country a little bit safer?”

    Who’s we there, Rosenberg? You got a mouse in your pocket? Ain’t nobody stopping you from making guns safer – hell, you could probably make another fortune off such a great idea. I mean, you do already have one fortune for all your great help figuring out how to put a computer in everybody’s pocket, right? Or was that your little mouse that figured that one out?

  4. If you look forward to owning a “smart” gun, you shouldn’t own a gun at all. Period.

    1. Or at least until they integrate this technology with Google Glass and put crosshairs where you are aiming.

    2. please explain yourself? Why?

  5. http://www.hollywoodreporter.c…..ict-876768

    Let us rejoice Gawker is dead. There is no way they can make the bond to appeal this. They will have to declare bankruptcy.

    1. Hulk Hogan was listed as the owner of Gawker on Wikipedia a few minutes ago.

      1. lol, classic

  6. “Why hasn’t the big money and big brains of high-tech turned their power and wealth and cool, cool reason to stopping gun violence”

    He’s not actually talking about gun violence. He’s talking about gun sales. Just another example of perversion of vocabulary in the public discourse.

    If he’s in the mood for a little self-reflection, I’d remind him that the president he most likely voted for is “responsible” for more guns on the street in this country than any other human being alive today. So there’s that.

  7. I could imagine the technology being useful for some people in some circumstances.

    But very few people want or need it. If there is any concern of the wrong person getting hold of your guns, you lock them up, or keep them close.

    I’m not sure how this is supposed to solve gun violence. For one thing, there are the 300 million guns already out there that aren’t going away. And plenty of other ways for serious criminals to stay armed. It’s just another dumb thing that would just have the effect of making guns more expensive and less convenient. Which of course is what many people are after.

    1. Yep. What do they call it? Dog whistling?

      1. Wait! I GOT it here, dammit! Make the violent blood-thirsty killers, rapers, and robbers use these clunky guns that work 1-quarter-assed-efficiently on a good day, and give the rest of us law-abiding self-defense-only types, reliable, simple, cheap guns that actually WORK!!! Problem solved! …. (Yer welcome).

  8. “If we can put a computer in everyone’s pocket, why can’t we do something about the 300,000 gun deaths in the U.S. over the last decade…”

    Never mind that over 200,000 of those are suicides, which a smart gun isn’t going to prevent. Even if they could, someone who is using a gun is pretty serious about it, and there are plenty of other methods to off oneself, as Japan can attest.

    1. Its why smartphone *need* to understand suicide!…..d-suicide/

    2. We better build “smart bridges” that prevent people from jumping off them–oh wait, they’re trying to do that already, by building nets and barriers and these pesky suicidal people STILL manage to jump off!

    3. Never mind that over 200,000 of those are suicides, which a smart gun isn’t going to prevent.

      You seem to be missing the point. Or are you suggesting 100,000 NON-suicide gun deaths per decade aren’t worth saving?

      Even if they could, someone who is using a gun is pretty serious about it…

      So where does that put the tens of thousands of non-fatals gun injuries in the US every year? in 2013 alone, firearms caused 84,258 nonfatal injuries.

      Are those not worth preventing?

      Then there are the deaths or injuries involving children, especially young children getting hold of guns and firing them. From a page on titled “Innocents Lost”:

      From December 2012 to December 2013, at least 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings?almost two each week, 61 percent higher than federal data reflect. And even this larger number reflects just a fraction of the total number of children injured or killed with guns in the U.S. each year, regardless of the intent. About two-thirds of these unintended deaths?65 percent?took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim’s family, most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured. Another 19 percent took place in the home of a relative or friend of the victim.

      1. Nice corpse-fucking of a dead thread.

      2. Are those not worth preventing?

        You seem to think that smart guns will prevent those too. They won’t, anymore than they’ll prevent suicides. Guns are inherently simple devices; any safety mechanism can be quite easily bypassed by someone with even rudimentary mechanical ability. Which means that a smart gun isn’t going to prevent a criminal from being able to use a stolen gun. It also won’t stop the rightful owners of those guns from committing a crime either.

        The only situations where a smart gun might help, are those where the gun has just been taken from its owner by an assailant, or preventing accidental injury or death from the use by an unauthorized user. Accidental deaths from firearms are rarer than people getting struck by lightening, and the majority of them are caused by people who would be “authorized” users. Assailants taking a gun from their victims and using it on them is also an extremely rare occurrence, and happens mostly to police officers, who won’t be using a smart guns. So at most, forcing smart gun technology on everyone would at MOST save a few hundred lives and prevent a few thousand injuries. AT BEST.


        1. OTOH, it has the potential to get a hell of a lot of people killed if they need to use a gun in an emergency. Not being able to unlock your cell phone because the fingerprint reader is having trouble reading your prints is annoying, not being able to unlock your gun while being attacked because the fingerprint reader is having trouble could be fucking deadly, which is the reason the cops don’t want to have anything to do with it. And given that there are an estimated 800,000-2,500,000 defensive gun uses PER YEAR, smart guns could conceivably end up killing more people than they save.

          1. OTOH, it has the potential to get a hell of a lot of people killed if they need to use a gun in an emergency.

            That implies people keep their guns loaded and readily to hand (as distinct from unloaded and locked away, out of reach of children.

            After all, a gun which is locked away out of reach of children is is not use in an emergency is it?

            You are also implying that you carry a loaded gun with you at all times, whether at work, visiting your parents or the supermarket, or travelling on a plane.

            After all what use is a gun you keep locked away at home most of the time?

            Not being able …to unlock your gun while being attacked because the fingerprint reader is having trouble could be fucking deadly.

            Not being able to find the key to the drawer you lock your gun in to keep it away from the kids would also be deadly during a home invasion. Should you therefore keep your gun in a place more readily accessible?

            No wonder so many young American kids get hold of their parents’ guns each year and start playing around with them–with often fatal results. (Around two a week every week according to one count.)

  9. It’s bad enough that it is difficult to find a new pistol that doesn’t have a magazine disconnect.

    1. Why? Are you trying to drop in from the top?

  10. My own old school smartphone just has numerical code locks, but the point is: we can and usually do make it near impossible for anyone but us, and slightly hard and inconvenient even for us, to use our phones. Why not the same for our guns?

    Try this experiment. Have your spouse or significant other pick a random time in the middle of the night while you’re asleep. Their job is to knock loudly on the furthest door away from your bedroom, and continue knocking on walls and other surfaces while quickly walking to your bedroom. Your job is to wake up and unlock your cell phone.

    See whether you’re comfortable with the time you have to cock, aim and fire your gun phone in the case of a late night home invasion.

    I know for sure that I’d be toast, because my phone sometimes takes 2 or 3 times to unlock. By then, an intruder could easily be in my bedroom.

    1. The first thing I do with a new phone is disable the goddamn passkey.

      1. Hmm. Sounds like the ideal solution for the FBI and their stoush with Apple: disable everybody’s cellphone passkey. They don’t need to worry about encryption if they abolish security!

        I can also see the benefits for your wife and kids. They don’t need to worry you when they “borrow” your phone and run up your bill. Plus if it’s stolen the thief gets a nice free phone (at least until you contact your device provider).

        Everybody wins, right?

        1. Deliberately and dishonestly missing the point, or just genuinely stupid? You aren’t in danger of imminent death when your smartphone fails to unlock.

          1. You aren’t in danger of imminent death when your smartphone fails to unlock.

            That would depend what was on the phone, would it not? Like the passcode to the combination lock to the steel safe in your den where you stashed your gun, for example.

            The code you didn’t bother to learn because you figured it was safely available on your phone.

            I would also point out that he argument you are using against the biometric locks of smartens could easily be use against against locks of ANY sort.

            For what use is having a loaded gun in a locked drawer–out of reach of kiddies, say–if you can’t find the key in time for a self-defence emergency?

            Ergo, better to keep it more readily to hand for the feared emergency.

            But of course if you can more readily get to that gun so can the kids.

            Those who make that argument against biometric safeguards haven’t thought the matter through.

    2. I suppose you could throw your still-locked phone at the intruder… That’s pretty much the only defensive action the gun control freaks want you to have, aside from urinating or vomiting on yourself.

  11. The locks on S&W revolvers suck. They can cause reliability problems to a revolver that a lot of people like because it’s supposedly so reliable. It was originally a serious feature. Big mistake. Everybody hates them–including S&W.

    They can’t really take them off, now. The first kid who gets shot because S&W took the lock off will sue and win. For better or worse, they’re on there forever. If S&W had it to do over again, they wouldn’t have put it on in the first place.

    Now you want gun makers to put new and unnecessary safety features on their guns?

    The thing about guns is, there is no substitute for storing them out of the reach of children. No technology will ever make it okay to store a gun where children can get their hands on it. Sorry. I guess adults will have to accept responsibility for their choices. It’s called “being an adult”.

    1. The thing about guns is, there is no substitute for storing them out of the reach of children. No technology will ever make it okay to store a gun where children can get their hands on it.

      Three layers of defense: 1) Location. Put your guns where small children can’t reach. 2) Education. Teach your children about guns so that they’re not a novelty. 3) Security. Keep your guns locked up when not on your person.

      1. I have taught my stepson more about guns, and I only have the kid on weekends, than his father who is a cop.

        Figure that one out.

      2. Step 4) Privacy. Keep the little bastards out of your house

        1. So where do you keep your “little bastards” when they aren’t in school? Stuffed in the henhouse or hanging out in the garage?

          1. Three layers of defense: 1) Location. Put your guns where small children can’t reach. 2) Education. Teach your children about guns so that they’re not a novelty. 3) Security. Keep your guns locked up when not on your person.

            Fucking reading comprehension, how does it work?

            1. 1) Location. Put your guns where small children can’t reach.

              Children are smart. They can also climb.

              Have you also put your chairs, stools, and stepladders out of reach?

              2) Education. Teach your children about guns so that they’re not a novelty.

              Education makes children curious. It fills them with an urge to learn. To have a go for themselves.

              Having taught them all about guns they will now be filled with curiosity about guns. To see what they’re like. To make them go BANG! all by themselves.

              3) Security. Keep your guns locked up when not on your person.

              So you think children know nothing about keys? Or where to find them? Or how to get hold of them?

              Do you carry that key around with you at all times or do you hang it up on a nail somewhere, safely out of reach (or so you think; see notes on point (1))?

              Do you travel down the street with it? (Fat lot of good that would be to the missus if a home invasion occurs while you’re out at the supermarket with the key, so probably not.)

              That suggests you maybe have more than one key floating around. One for you and one for the spouse. And maybe a third stashed away “somewhere safe”–just for, you know, emergencies.

              Alternately you may have more than one loaded gun in the house. One for you and one for the spouse. If the parents or the in-laws visit they probably bring their guns as well. Which would mean more “safe” places and more keys floating around.

      3. When I worked in a hospital in the ’90s, they made a point of not identifying which patients were HIV positive or had AIDS. And the reason for that, according to the infection control nurse, was so that the nurses and allied health professionals would treat every patient like they were HIV positive.

        If patients were flagged for having HIV, some nurses would let their guard down–maybe the patient just hasn’t tested positive yet. Maybe the patient has HIV and hasn’t been tested. Treat them all like they have HIV, and you won’t have a problem with people letting their guard down with needle sticks, etc.

        Same thing with guns.

        Treat every gun like it’s loaded. Not just the ones you think are loaded.

        Don’t put a safety lock on them in case children get them. Secure every gun away from children.

      4. You left out the most important: (4) Keep your guns UNLOADED when not in use.

        1. Because an unloaded gun is very useful in a self-defense emergency.

          1. Touch?!

            For the same reason a gun locked away in a drawer would be “very useful in a self-defence emergency”,

            Which doubtless means most self-defence-minded Americans do NOT lock their guns out of reach the kiddies. That would be just way too dangerous.

            It is also doubtless why Americans keep their guns with them at all times, even when they’re in the bathroom. Having a gun in the bedroom closet while you were in the kitchen or the bathroom would be “very useful in a self-defence emergency”.

            It therefore makes ever so much more sense to keep your gun with you, primed and loaded, at all times.

            After all, what use is a gun if you don’t have it with you, ready to fire, when you really need it?

    2. Locks?

        1. Hm. I wonder if my old Model 10 that was manufactured in the 50s has anything like that on it.

        2. I have a hole in the hammer that I presume if filled with a lock would prevent the firing pin from hitting home. Never even noticed that before. Interesting.

          1. you will probably find that doesn’t work like you think it would.
            the hole is there to lighten the hammer,not for any lock.
            Put a lock in there,(and it would have to be a small lock,and those aren’t very sturdy or secure),and you’ll jam up your gun when the lock flips around and interferes with the slide.
            While the bullet still comes out the barrel,headed for whatever the gun is aimed at.

            1. It’s a revolver.

      1. Flint or percussion?

    3. That’s why I don’t buy new guns. My primary woods-bumming revolver is a S&W 25-5 made in 1974. No stupid lawyer-safeties, and it’s old enough to still have a good single-action trigger. The double-action pull is a bit on the heavy side but smooth.

      And, .45 Colt. Yes.

      1. None of my handguns have safeties. My finger is my safety.

        1. None of my handguns have safeties. My finger is my safety.

          +1 Hoot.

          But really, your holster is your safety. (Glock user here.)

          When cops go to smart gun technology, I’ll consider it. Not before. They’ve got a lot more reasonable fear of having their weapon taken from them and used on them than any of us do. Which is another reason I use an MTAC, and not an active retention holster like a Serpa.

        2. My brain is my safety.

      2. I have an old S&W Model 10. Great gun.

    4. “Sorry. I guess adults will have to accept responsibility for their choices. It’s called “being an adult”.”

      But we have the government so that nobody has to do that!!

    5. ” there is no substitute for storing them out of the reach of children.”

      You’re not using your imagination. How about a smart gun which is set not to fire if its wifi picks up the presence of a policeman’s gun? Policeman’s safety is a big selling point for the nations gun manufactures, god love them. Children’s safety not so much.

  12. The Second Amendment is silent on the subject of oven locks to deter pie throwing.

    1. What about mouth locks to discourage pie eating? That leads to obesity or something else bad, doesn’t it?

  13. Regarding “smart” guns,law enforcement universally wants to be EXCLUDED from having to have them. They are most likely to get into a struggle with a criminal or disturbed person who tries to take their gun away from them,to use on the law officer. it makes the most sense for Law enforcement to “lead the way” on this,to provide for their own safety,as well as that of their children at home,who might access Daddy’s gun with disastrous result. (Besides the fact that many in law enforcement have their service guns stolen from their patrol cars or homes. FEDGOV alone is missing several thousand of their guns,including machine guns.)
    The reason law enforcement doesn’t want “smart” guns” is that they KNOW the guns are not reliable. They may not fire when it’s absolutely necessary,they can be jammed by strong RF fields or killed with EMP. The batteries necessary to them might die in cold temperatures or leak “acid’ and ruin the weapon. There’s also the “obsolescence” problem;the chips in the circuitry,the “smarts”,will NOT always be available,and then your gun is useless forever,because substitutes won’t work. And older guns cannot be retrofitted with the “smart” circuitry,the cost is prohibitive.
    If “smart” guns aren’t reliable enough for police and Secret Service,then why should I risk MY life relying on them?
    Ordinary mechanical firearms are very reliable and have none of the other problems.

    1. Cops want us to only be allowed to buy unreliable weapons while they are not subject to the same rules? A two-tiered system where our rulers are subject to a different set of rules than the people the rule?

      We live in a feudal system. Only the costumes have changed.

      1. *they*

  14. What are “America’s gun problems”? Not enough of them?

    1. I still can’t buy cheap plentiful .22

      1. Yeah, what the hell is that? You’d think they would have ramped up production by now.

    2. No, like “drug problems” among US troops during Vietnam, there’s plenty for everybody.

  15. “Progressives” refuse to acknowledge that the majority of their “gun violence” is due to the criminals being loose on the streets,many of them released from previous crimes by plea bargaining and reduced or suspended sentences.
    Accidental shootings are very low in number,especially when one considers the over 300 million guns in US civilian hands. Take away suicides,which are INTENTIONALLY self-inflicted acts,and the “gun violence” drops by 2/3. Much of the rest is criminals shooting other criminals,often wounding or killing bystanders in the process.
    IOW,it’s a criminology problem,not any problem solvable by technical means.
    “Progressives” are unwilling to acknowledge that their soft-on-crime social policies are largely responsible for this,and are REALLY unwilling to enact or enforce the laws necessary to address the real problems. Even implementing policies like Project Exile have been shown to greatly reduce criminal gun use,but “progressives” are against it. Project Exile is just enforcing existing gun laws,*strictly*,and assigning effective sentences upon conviction.

    1. Actually, the majority of the “gun violence” cited by progressives, if you’re talking about the “more than 30,000 firearms deaths each year” that they keep telling us about, is suicides (roughly 20,000 deaths), which wouldn’t be largely unaffected by smart gun technology.

  16. “Why Don’t Tech Innovators Solve America’s Gun Problems?”

    Because America’s gun problems are social pathologies, not technical matters

  17. the instant someone refers to “gun violence” like it was a special kind, you know you are dealing with an asshole, idiot or both. And when they throw around numbers that include suicide, they are definitely both.

  18. “Why Don’t Tech Innovators Solve America’s Gun Problems?”

    You mean like an inexpensive 3D printer for metal gun parts so we can make whatever gun we want?
    Or like a Plasma rifle in the 40 watt range?

    1. That was my thought, JB.

      Tech innovation – 3D printers – guns – gun problem solved. That’s my thought process, anyway.

  19. Another reason why there’s been so little innovation in this sector . . .

    John Browning should be on Mt. Rushmore.

    If it were only for the Winchester Model 1894 and the 1911.

    I love a lever action 1894! And lots of people would still just as soon have a 1911 as anything.

    In terms of iconic American products, Harley Davidson has nothing on John Browning.

    When your products are so well designed that people are still using them with little alteration more than a hundred years later . . .

    One of the reasons no one’s improved on the 1911 much is because there isn’t a lot to improve. You might have different preferences . . . something smaller and lighter than an officer model for conceal carry. But one of the reasons these products haven’t been improved much is because they’re hard to improve–and their simplicity is part of what makes them wonderful.

    1. I’ve always found the usual 1911 user to be somewhat cunty and self conscious. Perhaps not as cunty as people who insist on carrying revolvers because they’re old school (read: super-cunty), but quite cunty all the same.

      1. You just like saying “cunty”.

      2. Two of the greatest firearms the world has known!

        I have a 1911 and a 94… what level of “cunty” is that?

  20. Scott Rosenberg at BackChannel

    I can think of a better use for the URL.

    “even if you’re an investor with liberal leanings and friends, getting involved with smart guns means actually dealing with gun people, which could be, you know, awkward or unpleasant.”

    Perhaps the more meaningful question is why people who invest money to make profits regardless of their political inclinations (we call these investors, usually sans adjectives, as those tend to water down the point of investing) aren’t sprinting toward smart-gun technology with chequebook in hand.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the technology being not only less useful and more expensive than an old-fashioned trigger lock or gun safe, but potentially fatal to its user.

  21. What gun violence problem?

    1. Well, for one thing, ammo is kind of expensive.

      1. True dat. But I stockpiled a number of calibers before the price spiked, including .22 LR. I’d like to claim foresight, but mostly it was just dumb luck.

  22. Maybe because what tech could do for gun violence would affect only a tiny portion of an overall falling public health problem.

    Its not even that.

    What can ‘tech innovators do?’

    1. Electronic safeguards to ensure that only authorized people could access/fire the weapon? Nobody’s going to buy that gun.

    2. Call the police when the firearm is discharged? Nobody’s going to buy that gun.

    3. Create an app letting people with spare guns to rent connect with people needing a gun for a short duration?

  23. Well. Since no one else brought it up. The gun violence problem is a race problem.

    It is also a Prohibition Problem.

    It is a wonder none of these geniuses are putting much effort into ending Prohibition.

    1. Actually a lot of tech innovator money has gone into ending Prohibition, along with other civil-society folks like Soros.

  24. Please use scare quotes whenever you use terms like “gun violence” and “gun problems”. It’s all just a bunch of abuse of statistics and terminology anyway. Why what moron would compare the crime rate in the south bronx to that of Japan or norway, for example, and then only consider the gun laws when trying to identify the problem? What about the “high school graduation” problem, or the “no marketable skills” problem?

    Yet somehow this stupidity gets allowed when you average the US’s crappy undeveloped areas with our developed areas and take an aggregate murder rate to use (and ignore the fact that those developed areas have correspondingly low murder rates to developed nations).

    1. “Why what moron would compare the crime rate in the south bronx to that of Japan or norway, for example, and then only consider the gun laws when trying to identify the problem? What about the “high school graduation” problem, or the “no marketable skills” problem?”

      I think another thing that “progressives” don’t want to admit is that there’s a huge cultural difference between these low-crime places and high-crime areas of the US. They’re so hung up on this idea that all cultures are equal and completely fungible, and that’s just not the case.

      1. What they really don’t want to admit is that those cultural differences are a direct result of LBJ’s plan to turn poor blacks into sharecroppers for votes by making them dependent on government.


  25. Why Don’t Tech Innovators Solve America’s Gun Problems?

    Hey, 3D printing holds a lot of promise for brining prices down.

    …Oh, he and I have different ideas about what the problem is.

  26. Forcing lot of gun owners to do anything sounds like risky business in America…!

  27. So General Mills should stop selling all of its products in Vermont, to avoid the cost of repackaging everything that they make. And then tell Vermont “FYTW.”

    1. I’m predicting that they will end up doing this. Vermont has such a tiny population that they probably don’t have much to lose by not selling their products there.

      Also, wrong thread.

  28. America doesn’t have a gun problem any more than it has a publication problem.

  29. I don’t think there’s really a techy business model based on “take a perfectly functional product, slather a worse-than-useless feature on it, and charge more for it.”

    Except, now that I type it out, that sounds exactly like Microsoft’s business model.

    1. +1 stupid cartoon paper clip

  30. How about implants to create “smart penis’s”. Good God think of the misadventures that would save.

  31. Tech IS solving gun crime in a different way: predictive policing.

    By using Big Data analytics to deploy cops to street corners where gang violence is predicted and prevent shooting from even happening in the first place, we avoid gun crime and start to break the revolving door on our prison system.

    Note that this is not Minority Report-style pre-crime, as in punishing a person for a crime he or she has not yet committed. It is a deterrent just by being in the right place at the right time.

    As a staunch gun-rights advocate, I fully expect predictive policing to reduce gun violence to the point where gun control arguments start looking stupid to everyone–it would be like harping about the possibility of an invasion of Earth by Martians and would cause most people to roll their eyes. To some degree, we are most of the way there already, with the libertarian and conservative media openly calling to attention the fact that mass shootings are rare and that the leftist/progressive media have their collective panties in a bunch.

    Predictive policing does support what pro-gun-rights people have been saying all along: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”–more specifically, “CERTAIN people kill people.”

    1. you really think people are that predictable? Im sure they can play with the probabilities some, but I dont think statistics really work that exactly.

  32. The reason Silicon Valley isn’t working on guns is because there aren’t any technical issues to solve. Guns work. They’ve worked for a very long time. They’re highly reliable. The “gun problem” is a political issue.


    1. True enough. Go to any firearms outlet and look at any modern bolt-action hunting rifle. You’re pretty much looking at a design Paul Mauser worked out in the 1890s.

      A pump shotgun? John Browning, 1893.

      About half the semi-auto pistols? John Browning, 1910-1911.

      Over half of the lever-action rifles? John Browning, 1892.

      An over-under shotgun? John Browning, 1930.

      A double-action revolver with a cylinder on a crane? Smith & Wesson, around 1899.

      A single-action revolver with a loading gate? Sam Colt, 1873.

      Examples abound. Metallurgy, machining techniques, sights and ammo have improved a great deal, but most guns themselves haven’t changed much since the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

      1. That’s kind of what I was trying to get across up top.

        And part of what makes some of those guns so great is their simplicity. And if what we love about those guns is their simplicity, you can’t improve that simplicity by making it more complicated.

        People like polymer because it’s lighter. That was an improvement that didn’t make it more complicated. And then for Glocks, they made it without a safety–or without a thumb safety anyway. . . . and that made the gun less complicated.

        All of the “improvements” they’re talking about that would make a gun child safe would also make them more complicated–and that’s going in the wrong direction from what consumers want and have wanted for 100 years.

  33. Because it has and continues to. Gun violence levels are not high. In fact, they’re very low and will continue to decrease.

  34. There is a reason that an incoming call on your smart phone does not require entering a password, it is because you want to answer quickly, also you can make an emergency call without entering the password. I can’t think of a bigger emergency than one in which you need a firearm.

  35. an emergency where you need ten firearms?

    1. think of the 1992 LA riots,the Ferguson riots,or Baltimore. You may need more than one firearm to deal with a mob intent on torching the house you live in. As did the Korean-American shopkeepers during the 1992 LA riots.
      Or you may want a gun for your home,one in your car,one in the cabin,other guns for hunting different types of game (rifle or shotgun),guns for target shooting,etc. Or you just like to shoot different guns. They’re not all the same,you know.

  36. For $100 you can buy a GunVault that fits in your nightstand and requires a four finger combination to open.

    Problem solved?

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  39. The excerpt from Tom Hartsfield gets it right. In firearms owners intend for self-defense, reliability is the most sought after feature. Adding “smart technology” is adding a potential point of failure. For example, most S&W revolvers now come with a locking feature which, among other reasons, has made their older pre-lock revolvers even more desirable for many consumers. Glock pistols are among the most popular firearms in the US, in part, because they’re so simple and reliable.

    If politicians want to meddle in the firearms market, they might consider offering some tax credit for purchase of a gun safe and develop incentives for voluntary firearms safety training.

  40. So late, but soooo much Progressive left-wing idiocy I can’t help but charge at the red cape.

    First, there is no gun violence problem.

    Second, all guns come with safety mechanisms to prevent accidental discharge. They’re called “triggers”. They’ve worked for a very, very long time.

    Third, no amount of technology or law will make irresponsible people behave responsibly. You don’t need biometrics on guns to prevent children from shooting them, you need locked closets, high shelves, and education. I was raised to never point a gun (toy or not) at anyone or anything I didn’t intend to shoot. Always carry with the barrel pointed at the ground and your finger outside of the trigger guard. Assume all guns are loaded and chambered. When handing someone a gun, open the action, verify there isn’t a round in the chamber, and do the same when someone hands one to you.

    People who advocate for this technology do so for the sole purpose of having an excuse to push for anti-gun legislation. It’s effectively the same thing as the magazine size bans. The point is to ban functional guns and get around the 2A by pointing to “smart guns” as a viable, legal alternative.

  41. my friend’s step-aunt makes $76 hourly on the internet .,,,,U She has been without a job for 8 months but last month her income was $16370 just working on the internet for a few hours. …


    1. Does Reason check their comment sections for spam?

      1. That’s a rhetorical question, right?

      2. Never. I don’t believe there’s any moderation at all.

  42. Complicating the gun won’t solve the problem. So long as any part is a combination of mechanical and chemical pieces then someone will have a work around for it. There are already fast-access safes, etc that can utilized. Thwart the access and a fair percentage of inadvertent gun deaths will end. It will not stop the kook, the thief or anyone else with harm on their mind.

  43. I’d have to think a major reason why we aren’t seeing more “smart gun” technology is the huge liability any manufacturer would face should the smart device ever malfunction.

  44. Remember the goal is to get guns out of the hands of the prols. Making them more and more expensive and unreliable is just a means to that goal. And then there is the possibility of making guns so that the government can ‘hack’ them and shut them down…. always a possibility with high tech ‘solutions’.

  45. In an emergency smart phones will allow anyone to dial 911. What would you want a gun to do in an emergency?

    1. Wow,that’s weapons-grade STUPID.

      “when seconds count,police are minutes away.”

      One Missouri woman who called 911 when two thugs were breaking into her house,police took 25 minutes to arrive,and by that time,she had shot one of them dead,wounded the other one.

      THINK about how long it will take police to get to YOUR house if you call 911. Your life is at risk,of course.

  46. yea I’m willing to put my life in the hands of technology. Lol.

  47. “If we can put a computer in everyone’s pocket, why can’t we…

    … build nuclear fusion reactors?

    … travel to Mars?

    … create a teleportation device?

    … balance the budget?

    … eliminate the crap on television?

    … make everybody wealthy?

    … bring about the second coming of Christ?

    … cure cancer?

    … build a perpetual motion machine?

    … make everybody healthy and beautiful?

  48. Keep in mind, if you add smarts to a gun, then it can be remotely disabled.
    The guberment already wants a back-door to unlock your phone. I can see them wanting a wifi means to shut down your gun. Or, just simply project a localized EMP at the gun and fry it’s electronics.

  49. The single-biggest reason why almost no one is working on “smart guns”?

    Everyone probably knows about the relatively recent boycotts and threats that went to a California gun-dealer who was just *talking* about selling a smart gun, ostensibly over a New Jersey law. But what not as many people probably know is that even before that New Jersey law existed, the NRA led a boycott of Smith and Wesson in the 90s over smart gun technology.

    People are free to speculate on the reasons why, but the NRA and their members don’t just not want smart guns for themselves, they don’t want *anyone* to have smart guns.

    1. The NRA doesn’t want states to enact laws REQUIRING only “smart” guns be sold once they are offered for sale,like NJ did.
      BTW,if FEDGOV wants gun makers to engineer “smart” guns,all they have to do is issue a purchase contract for a number of them,to equip Federal employees,like;
      Armed FEDGOV Agencies;
      US Marshals
      Secret Service

      National Park Service
      Postal Inspection Service
      Department of Health and Human Services
      Veterans Affairs
      Bureau of Land Management and Indian Affairs
      Environmental Protection Agency
      Fish and Wildlife Service
      Small Business Administration
      Railroad Retirement Board
      Food and Drug Administration
      Dept. Of Education
      Soc.Security Admin.

      –this may not be a complete list.– (yikes!)

      Have you read the news recently,about how TSA has “lost” a couple 100 of their guns?
      FEDGOV is missing several thousand of their guns,some being machine guns,and that’s not counting US military or state and local police.

  50. RE: Why Don’t Tech Innovators Solve America’s Gun Problems?

    Because all “tech-innovators” think guns are so icky-poo.

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