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Why no ‘Childproof’ Guns? Technology the Barrier, not NRA

Before blaming the boogeyman, Joe Nocera and Rep. John Tierney should have done some reasoning.

by
Mike McDaniel

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August 2, 2013 - 12:08 am
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In 1997, Congress finally shut off the use of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funds “to advocate or promote gun control.” That prohibition has held until recently. Timothy Wheeler at the National Review reports:

In 1863 President Lincoln signed a congressional charter creating the National Academy of Sciences. Now, 150 years later, President Obama is enlisting NAS to implement an item in his January 16 plan to change the lives of America’s 100 million gun owners. He has directed the Centers for Disease Control to resume research on gun injuries and deaths, and the NAS’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a public workshop last week specifically tasked with shaping the direction of the CDC’s firearm research.

One of the primary avenues of renewed CDC anti-gun advocacy was previewed at the workshop by National Institute of Justice director Greg Ridgeway:

Ridgeway put the audience on notice that his agency has made research into user-authenticated guns — which can be fired only by the designated lawful owner — a priority.

Joe Nocera of the New York Times also jumped on the “safe gun” bandwagon. In an op-ed titled “Saving Children From Guns,” he asks:

So why can’t we childproof guns? In an age of technological wizardry not to mention a time of deep sensitivity to the welfare of children — why can’t we come up with a technology that would keep a gun from going off when it is being held by a child? Or, for that matter, by a thief using a stolen gun? Or an angry teenager who is plotting to use his parents’ arsenal to wreak havoc in a mall?

Nocera obviously believes his questions to be rhetorical, their answers self-evident. He informs readers that the technology already exists, but its mandatory and widespread use is being thwarted by the usual suspects — “the National Rifle Association and gun absolutists,” and “pro-gun bloggers.”

Nocera is not alone. Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) has introduced a bill in Congress that would require smart guns for all:

Under his bill, guns made in the United States would have to be built with this technology two years after the bill becomes law. Older guns being sold by a business or individual would have to be retrofitted with this technology after three years.

Well-meaning as they may be, Nocera and Tierney are 40 years behind the state of the art in technology, obviously know nothing of firearms, and are ignoring human nature.

Research into so-called “safe gun technology” that would prevent a weapon from being fired by anyone but its programmed owner has been fitfully underway since the 1970s. The police comprise the largest and most enthusiastic potential market for this technology, however — despite a variety of technologies — not a single law enforcement agency has ever adopted these “smart guns,” which are actually quite stupid and don’t exist in any commercially viable form despite being researched by firearm giants such as Colt.

Early attempts focused on compatible magnets, one in the grip of a handgun and one embedded in a ring worn by the shooter. They had the advantage of relative simplicity. Unfortunately, if the ring shifted on the finger, it wouldn’t work, and wearing gloves also interfered. Weak-hand shooting was impossible absent a large ring on both hands. Law enforcement soured on this technology because of the realization that all a criminal needed to do to use one of these firearms was to steal it and the ring, or to simply carry a magnet.

The next technology — one that is still being investigated — is nothing more complex in theory than radio transmitters and receivers. Miniaturized systems are feasible in terms of size and space. A radio receiver is embedded in a handgun with a transmitter coded to that receiver carried by the shooter. Both receiver and transmitter must be battery-powered.

The problems with this technology — uncritically touted by Mr. Nocera — are legion. Radio transmitters use enormous amounts of battery power. Batteries small enough to be carried in a firearm have limited capacity, and must be constantly on, rapidly draining. If a battery fails — and all batteries fail in cold enough weather — the gun won’t fire. Additionally, there can be no lag at all between need and response, so a power-saving “sleep” mode to try to save battery power is impractical.

Early attempts with the technology made clear the problem of radio frequency interference. Radio sources abound, and since the widespread proliferation of cell phones, the problem has become more complex. And, as with magnetic technologies, criminals can use the weapons simply by stealing the gun and transmitter, or by scanning for and spoofing the correct frequencies, technology already used by criminals to open contemporary car and garage doors.

Cost is, unsurprisingly, a significant factor. The more advanced the technology and the smaller the market, the greater the price, adding potentially hundreds of dollars to the cost of already costly weapons.

Law enforcement has also never been able to get beyond another insurmountable problem: it is not at all hard to imagine circumstances in which a officer would need to fire a fellow officer’s gun.

The same is true for citizens, such as a wife needing to use her husband’s gun. Anything that would interfere would cost lives. Any gun that only a single person may fire is a very limited and expensive gun.

Mr. Nocera and Rep. Tierney are entranced by Hollywood technologies, and denigrate the supporters of freedom:

Pro-gun bloggers were furious when they saw James Bond, in Skyfall, proudly showing off his new biometrically protected weapon. They were convinced it was a Hollywood plot to undermine their rights.

Tierney is proud to announce that his legislation was inspired by Skyfall, but what Tierney and Nocera apparently fail to understand is that such methods — that read fingerprints, sense DNA, or some other exotic technology — exist primarily in the minds of screenwriters. This frustrates those that actually understand firearm technology. Bond’s Walther PPK’s grip was supposed to read his biometrics via contact with his hand, yet in at least one scene in the film, he was handling the weapon while wearing gloves. One can get away with such lapses in a script, but in reality, they’re deadly.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Even if they DO switch over to it, I reserve my right NOT to.

They can change every Police car to an electric one for all I care...They just cant mandate that I DO.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
These people, as usual, have it exactly backwards. Instead of wasting energy on the fool's errand of child-proofing a gun you're much better off gun-proofing your child. If you don't want to teach your children how to shoot at least de-mystify firearms for them. Teach them how guns work, teach them what the dangers are and how to deal with them. The same way we do with cars, stovetops, medicine cabinets and swimming pools.

I know... taking personal responsibility for yourself and your children is hard and scary compared to just asking the government to do it for you.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Before any such technology is imposed on the American people, all federal law-enforcement agencies should be compelled to use it for several years to demonstrate its efficacy. Any federal law-enforcement officer found using a non-compliant weapon should be subjected to a several-year mandatory-minimum prison sentence.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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up to I saw the receipt which was of $7645, I did not believe that my brother had been actualey earning money parttime at there labtop.. there brothers friend haz done this less than ten months and recently paid the dept on their appartment and bought a new Maserati. go toO, http://www.wep6.com
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
if the nutjobs do manage to force this into law, or the kinyun writes a bribed exec order, I suppose we'll have to keep our "real" guns around and in good condition. As long as I own it, according to the proposed laws, it doesn't have to be retrofitted. Come to think of it, since private sales are still legal here, buying an old one privately could get round all that. I'd like to see the engineers figure out how to retrofit something like an old Browing High Power, a Ruger Security Six, a S&W 586........
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
We all want to know why liberals are the dumbest people on Earth. The answer has not been given to us yet. Yet we see it in everyday life. This article is just further proof on how dumb these idiots are.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If only ONE child can be saved..... what a stupid, farcical mantra these dweebs parrot. If they REALLY cared about "the children", WHY do they insist on taking MY tax dollars and spending them to murder millions of American children each year? Their farcical whinge about "assault weapons" belies their true nature.... when the entire class of "rifles" used in ALL crimes against ALL persons totals about 1.4%, and the false-labelled "assault weapon" comprises less than 40% of THAT class, their false premise is exposed to those who wish to see it. "Assault weapons" are used in an almost non-existent portion of gun-involved crimes against persons. Most "crimes" involving "assault weapons" are charges for "unlawful" possession or lack of an uncnstitutional registration in some states. The weapon itself is never used in a real crime with a victim. Their agenda is not well concealed. They wear it on their sleeves for all to see.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess he doesn't have a clue about the thousands of youth who are competitive shooters and hunters.... my kids have been safely using firearms since they were very young - all of them grew up to be firearms instructors in their own right.

I've coached youth shooting sports for many years - our program is very successful in providing positive experiences for young people. While many of our kids have become top ranked marksmen, all of the kids we've worked with have become safe, competent and lifelong firearms users. At the end of the day, I trust my kids with a firearm ahead of most law enforcement types - because our kids have been reinforced with safe habits and positive attitudes from a young age.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly. The key is to make the child gun safe, not the other way around.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great article, Mike! I've heard about the idea of smart guns for years now but had never seen much in the way of facts about how these things worked (or were supposed to work) so you've done me a favor by filling me in.

Now if only we can keep the politicians from legislating the use of smart guns before they actually work well! Even then, I'm not sure I'd want them to legislated even then. As you mentioned, it's not hard to imagine cases where you'd want to be able to use someone else's gun.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the left lacks any compelling argument they always fall back on either "it's racist" or "it's for the children." Gun control does in fact have its roots in racist attempts to limit access by blacks to firearms, but for now let's look at the issue of child safety.
There are over 300 million firearms in some 80 to 100 million homes in the United States. The probability that an underaged individual will never encounter one of those guns unsupervised approaches zero. The liberal solution is naturally to get rid of all of them, an impossible task on the fact of it. Look at Great Britain for how well that all works.
If it really was about making our children safer, age appropriate gun safety and handling would be taught at every level of public education k through 12. At the earliest levels it would be simply "if you see what looks like a gun don't touch, tell an adult." At older ages I'd like to see actual training on how to make safe all the more common types of firearms. Seems to have worked well with my children and now my grandkids.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Liberals would never go for it. And that's the giveaway that they're arguing in bad faith and don't really care jack squat about children's safety.

If they truly cared about safety they'd embrace Eddie Eagle and other NRA training programs... programs that have more than a century of success behind them. But they can't do that because to them teaching gun safety is the same thing as advocating gun ownership, which to them is barely one step from personally shooting Trayvon Martin in the head as he begs to bring his little brother some skittles. Being against guns is less a policy preference than it is a religous article of faith, and anything that actually makes gun ownership safer (and therefore more desireable) MUST be opposed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eddie Eagle is wrong-headed.. the basic premise is that firearms are "unsafe" or "dangerous" on the face of it, if they see one get away, don't touch it, and run tel an adult.. leaving the "dangerous critter" alone once more for someone else to find and misuse. I've worked, as in instructor, with children as young as six years old.. they quickly learn how to "safe" a rifle, how to fire properly, maintain muzzle control, keep finger off trigger till sight are on target.... and shoot/cease fire in concert with twenty or so others on a firing line. Thus ANY grade school aged kid can learn proper handling and safety techniques. WHY do NRA insist on promoting this ridiculous programme? TEACH the kids how to be safe with guns. They can learn it. And should.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have to disagree. I don't want anyone of any age who's only knowledge of a firearm is what they've learned from watching movies or TV to do anything with a found weapon other than report it to a responsible adult.
You are correct. Anyone can be taught safe gun handling very quickly, but the sad reality is that sort of training will not fly in the current climate. Eddie Eagle is a doable first step. Your training ideas are what we go for later after we've accomplished that first step.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, Uncle Lar. I'm a certified NRA instructor for pistols and self defense. The key is using the "Eddie Eagle" program properly and responsibly, to reach as many very young children as possible. There is no need to teach them to fear guns, but they ARE dangerous, and are intended to be!

A gun is a tool. And just as with most other tools, the greatest danger involved, for people of any age, is ignorance or carelessness.

Children who are NOT being taught safe gun handling and shooting, need to understand that the gun is not a toy, and must not be touched without both guidance and permission from the owner or a responsible adult. Actually, except in an emergency, nobody should ever touch someone else's gun without permission, regardless of their age.

And, for the same reason you wouldn't hand a two year old a sharp knife, a lighted match or a jug of ant poison... you are an irresponsible person if you leave guns anywhere a young child can reach them anyway. Accidents and mistakes can and do happen, but regardless of what they are taught, a two year old has very little capacity for judgment. That's why they have parents who are responsible for them.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I accuse the people who want to childproof guns of bad faith, for their attempts to exempt domestic law enforcement from the rules. Rather, they should impose these rules upon on-duty government employees _first_ (provided police trust the technology for their own use). If that works out, then private citizens will look for guns with these features, too -- just as they now demand that pistols be drop-safe when fully loaded.

Trying to impose this technology on private citizens while exempting police insinuates that our need for the ability to kill violent criminals is less important than theirs.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Tierney and Nocera apparently fail to understand is that such methods — that read fingerprints, sense DNA, or some other exotic technology — exist primarily in the minds of screenwriters"

And most Low-Information Liberals fail to understand Politics is Showbusiness, for Ugly People.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
These people, as usual, have it exactly backwards. Instead of wasting energy on the fool's errand of child-proofing a gun you're much better off gun-proofing your child. If you don't want to teach your children how to shoot at least de-mystify firearms for them. Teach them how guns work, teach them what the dangers are and how to deal with them. The same way we do with cars, stovetops, medicine cabinets and swimming pools.

I know... taking personal responsibility for yourself and your children is hard and scary compared to just asking the government to do it for you.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Before any such technology is imposed on the American people, all federal law-enforcement agencies should be compelled to use it for several years to demonstrate its efficacy. Any federal law-enforcement officer found using a non-compliant weapon should be subjected to a several-year mandatory-minimum prison sentence.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed! Heck, I even use the same ammo the FBI uses for my concealed carry weapon. When the FBI agents start running around with these "childproofed"weapons, then maybe I'll consider it.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. When the Federal HRTs feel comfortable using the tech then I'll be willing to give it a shot. Until then I don't want to hear it.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Even if they DO switch over to it, I reserve my right NOT to.

They can change every Police car to an electric one for all I care...They just cant mandate that I DO.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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