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Smart Gun New Jersey: 5 Years Later

A startling admission from the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

Today, after gun manufacturers, engineering firms and research universities have spent millions competing to perfect the weapon, the quest has wandered onto the slow track.

The federal government has all but ceased its funding, crippling research. Legal squabbles over patents shelved promising technologies. And gun manufacturers got out of the business entirely, wary of potential lawsuits and marketing guns that would cost far more.

You don’t say?  This kind of project is happens to be in the displine that I’m trained in professionally, and if I were working on this project, I would definitely take exception to this:

“We need to demonstrate that you can reliably turn a gun off in real time,” he said.

That is not good enough for Bryan Miller, executive director of Ceasefire New Jersey, which pushed for the law five years ago.

“They went about inventing the Ferrari of recognition technology when they could have used the money to build a Ford,” Miller said. “They’ve run out of money and they can’t marry it to a handgun and, frankly, I think it’s shameful.”

Miller said he believes the nationwide effort has been sabotaged.

“We know that gun manufactures have already developed these technologies, they just don’t want to put them in guns,” he said. “The National Rifle Association doesn’t want them to do it.”

Bryan Miller has little respect for how difficult an engineering project something like this is.  Not only must the circuitry withstand forces well beyond what typical consumer electronics will have to endure, they must get it right 100% of the time in a fraction of a second.  What I suspect Bryan is looking for is a ring type system, where the firearms user has to wear a ring in order to use that gun, which transmits a code to the firearm if it’s in proximity and that allows it to fire.  It’s really the only way to solve the problem technologically, but even that will be subject to reliability problems.  As a professional engineer, who also understands guns very well, smart gun technology is a folly.  It’ll be enormously expensive and won’t always work properly.  It’ll be prone to interference, bad gripping, all the problems you’d encounter shooting in a high stress situation.

But that’s doesn’t matter to Bryan Miller.  These dastardly conspiring engineers just don’t want to deliver the technology, and it’s screwing with his master plan to ban all guns in New Jersey, except for his junk smart guns.  Bryan Miller summarized: “It doesn’t have to work!  I just want to ban guns, so deliver something already!”

4 Responses to “Smart Gun New Jersey: 5 Years Later”

  1. From the title of the article: Research stalls on a weapon hard-wired to shoot only in the right hands (my emphasis):

    Kinda discriminatory against southpaws, isn’t it ;-)?

  2. Sebastian says:

    The ironic thing is, even though Bryan has little appreciation for the difficulty of the engineering problem, he’s essentially correct based on what I know about this project. Any kind of biometric smart-gun technology is going to be a folly. It pretty much just isn’t going to work, no matter how good the technology is, because there’s too much variability to account for. A ring system isn’t as slick technologically, but it’ll work far better. It’s prone to jamming, batteries going dead, and you have to wear a ring if you want to use your gun. It’s a bad solution, but only for reasons of practicality, not for fundamental engineering reasons. Bryan, of course, doesn’t give a shit if someone can’t fend off a criminal attack because they can’t find their ring, or the battery in the gun goes dead. That’s fine by him. But he’s essentially correct that what’s being done at NJIT is an expensive boondoggle. There is a simpler solution that will work better, but it’s not one that will interest computer researchers.

  3. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    The NJ police won’t be required to use Smart Guns, and yet they are the most likely to be shot with their own sidearms.

  4. HTRN says:

    Sebastion, the “simpler solution that will work better” wouldn’t happen to be the magnetic system made by Magna Trigger or Smart Lock?

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