I read the article and read all the comments.
Let’s start by challenging some of the assertions.
Smart guns would not have prevented Sandy Hook. Why? Because Nancy Lanza was purchasing the guns either for Adam or to share with Adam. In either case, the smart gun would have been programmed for Adam.
Smart guns would also not have prevented the shootings at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado, or the more recent shootings in Aurora, Illinois. They wouldn’t have stopped the murders at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, or Stephen Paddock’s shooting spree in Las Vegas, just to name a few. That’s because the guns used were owned by the shooter.
While smart guns might reduce the number of children killed or injured by accidental gun shots, the majority of firearms accidents involve the owner of the gun. A reduction in childhood casualties can be achieved more quickly and economically with the nationwide promotion of Project Childsafe, which gives away gun locks and safe storage guidelines.
The same thing could help reduce the number of adolescent and teen suicides, although the majority of those don’t involve guns. The probably wouldn’t do much about suicides among older white males, who commit the majority of suicides and the majority of gun suicides, because they generally use a firearm they own.
Gun use in crime? A firearm operates through mechanical action. A trigger is pulled, releasing a hammer or striker which then hits the primer of the cartridge, igniting the powder charge. Smart gun technology has to interface electronics with the mechanics is some fashion that makes it difficult to bypass. Rest assured that as soon as smart guns hit the streets, instructions for defeating them will appear online within a surprisingly short time.
Besides, all of the technologies demonstrated to date are either easily defeated or easily spoofed.
The biggest strike against smart guns is reality itself.
Advocates for smart guns seem to have no concept of the defensive use of firearms in actual practice.
A gun carried for defensive purposes must work all the time. Yes, misfires do happen; ammunition isn’t perfect and a poorly maintained firearm is liable to fail. But other failures are intolerable.
Guns carried for defense are generally carried ready to fire with a cartridge in the chamber. A large number of the guns carried today don’t even have manual safeties. The whole purpose of this is to reduce the time from beginning of the draw to the first shot.
How much time are we talking about? The late Bob Mundin, the world champion of speed draw, was timed at 0.19 seconds. Of course, Mundin was using a special rig which would be pretty useless for daily carry by a police officer or a citizen. Bill Jordan of the U.S. Border Patrol, a veteran not only of military combat but of real gunfights along the U.S.-Mexico border, was timed at 0.25 seconds using a standard police duty revolver, holster and gun belt.
Of course, most people won’t ever achieve such speeds but most training instructors are going for somewhat less than two seconds; three seconds from concealment. I am nearly 70 years old and I can beat those numbers — and hit the target.
The sensor in your smartphone isn’t fast enough because the trigger is already being pulled during the draw.
Have you ever had to wipe off your finger to get your smartphone to recognize your fingerprint? A gun must work when a person’s hands are sweaty, greasy, dirty, muddy, and when the person is wearing gloves.
How about Bluetooth? Ever lost your Bluetooth connection, even when the connected devices in a very close proximity? ‘Nuff said.
RFID is also a popular proposal but those systems can be spoofed by a nearby magnet. This can not only allow an authorized person to use the gun, it can even prevent the authorized user from firing the gun.
Let’s go back and review my earlier statement: A gun carried for defensive purposes must work all the time.
As of now, the technology to produce a smart gun that meets all the requirements for a defensive weapon doesn’t exist. In fact, nothing on the horizon indicates that it will exist anytime in the reasonably foreseeable future.
There is one other misconception that needs to be addressed: commonly held beliefs about how criminals obtain their guns and how smart guns might hamper them.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study including over a quarter of a million inmates of state and federal prisons. The study showed that only about 6.4% of crime guns were obtained by theft, including guns stolen from family members and friends. Nearly 80% of criminals got their guns from the black market, as gifts or purchases from family and friends, through straw purchases, and a surprisingly large percentage of them (9.1%) bought them from licensed dealers. Only about 1.2% of crime guns were bought at gun shows or flea markets. If smart guns became the rule, thieves would probably simply change what they stole or obtain a gun with the smart technology removed from the underground economy.
There is one last thing that works against smart guns: the marketplace itself.
Guns last a very long time. A Colt revolver made more than a century ago is still quite capable of chambering and firing a modern cartridge. The first practical smokeless powder was formulated in 1884 and largely replaced older powders by the turn of the century. The percussion cap was invented in 1804 and metallic cartridges were perfected in the last decades of the 19th Century.
The U.S. Army retained the M1911 and M1911A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol up until the 1980s but the last new ones were made during World War II. That means that even the newest of the .45 ACP pistols lasted in active military use for nearly 40 years.
There are currently an estimated 400 million firearms owned by American citizens. According to data from Small Arms Analytics, 45 million were sold in the three years from 2016 to 2018.
Smart guns are going to be more expensive than conventional firearms. Even if the NRA were to enthusiastically promote smart guns, higher prices and lingering concerns about function and reliability are going to work against them.
These are the lessons that smart gun advocates and pandering politicians need to learn and take to heart.