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The Hackable Gun

I don’t fundamentally have a problem with the market offering solutions like this one, to allow users to track and disable their gun if it’s stolen, like you would a smart phone. My only concern over the development is that it will soon become mandated, because on my own, I would never buy one.

For one, it’s useless. A firearm is a mechanical device. Any disabling technology could easily be circumvented. The article brings up an example of OnStar, but most cars these days have electronic ignition, and a car can essentially be made into a brick just by the car’s computer refusing to operate the ignition (and there are ways around that, still). Firearms use mechanical ignition. Electronic ignition has been tired, but it was very unreliable. Any “safety” which causes the gun to be disabled electronically could easily be re-enabled by anyone with enough mechanical aptitude to change a car tire. The only way you could successfully disable a gun is by destroying the mechanical parts. If this “smart gun” activated some thermite and seized up the lockwork, maybe it could work. Of course, I’m not sure how safe that would be under ordinary circumstances, and it wouldn’t be too long before Cletus burns the house down because he misplaced his gun and thought it might be stolen. That’s not even considering whether you could hack the device. Even if you could make a gun that had reliable electronic ignition, there would be ways around it. Guns are much simpler than cars. I tend to view that “smart gun” technology, even if it were made to be reliable enough, would only really be useful for reducing the already low number of accidents. We’d be better developing smart plastic buckets and smart bath tubs if it’s really lives that are the main concern here. Smart guns wouldn’t do anything to hinder criminals.

There’s a lot of hand wringing by the folks who dislike gun ownership over the fact that guns are dangerous, and can’t really serve their intended purpose without being dangerous. There are no safe guns, there are only safe users.

20 Responses to “The Hackable Gun”

  1. Exurbankevin says:

    I can see the wheels of the .gov turning right now: Wait, there’s a way to turn off guns with the flick of a switch? Let’s do it. For the children.

    • Jack Morris says:

      Exactly. The ability to wirelessly disable a firearm is a 100% liability. It completely undermines the intention of the 2nd Amendment.

      This would give the federal government complete control over every individual firearm in the country (at least the “legal” guns with the electronics installed) This is not tinfoil hat stuff, it would be foolish to assume our government wouldn’t have access to the signals that disable the firearm.

    • Arnie says:

      Indeed!

      Isn’t the government trying to do this with cars to end dangerous chase scenarios? One zap of an EMP and all cars in the area go silent.

      Now think about that power over our militia arms when we try to defend our fundamental rights. I’ll never put that tyrant-appeasing garbage on my guns!

  2. Jack says:

    And of course the police and other agents of the state would be exempt from such regs.

  3. Bryan S. says:

    Reminds me of this concept…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wypFgcqHyvc‎

  4. Rob Crawford says:

    And if you “failed” to disable a stolen gun, would you be liable for its misuse?

  5. Rob K says:

    Of bigger risk, if it has electronic ignition and can be remotely disabled, can it be remotely fired?

    • Kenn says:

      Another point on the electronic ignition or activation… Could a software hack make your semi-auto go all NFA on you? Seems like a bad idea to me.

      • Geodkyt says:

        Kenn — ATF has decided that an autoloading gun with electronically controlled ignition IS a “machinegun” and the receiver is the “receiver of a machinegun”.

        Because there is no mechanical difference between a “semiauto spark plug gun” and a “fully automatic spark plug gun” — your “disconnector” is really just code or a simple electrical contact, “readily restored” to full automatic function.

  6. Akatsukami says:

    Adam Lanza demonstrated how to prevent the owner from disabling a stolen gun.

  7. Jack Morris says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever want anything electric in my gun. (Optics and lights excluded of course.)

    Maybe if it is shooting lasers. I’d take up an electronic gun on the condition that it shoots lasers or plasma beams.

  8. The Jack says:

    To defeat such a system wouldn’t one just need to disable the ability to receive a no-go code?

    Or do they envision a sort of deadman system or there having to be a “okay to shoot” beacon it can pickup?

    From a systems failure design this is an hilariously, bordering on alarmingly, stupid idea.

    And that’s just on the “safety” widget itself. As has been said before, it’d have to be some sort of mechanical interlock. And guns are simple machines built from interchangeable parts.

    • Zermoid says:

      Most I’ve heard of so far have been more of the latter, the gun being locked until some thing signals it to be able to fire, usually a watch or ring the user has to be wearing.

      My biggest complaint is anything electronic needs a battery, and they fail quite often.

  9. Matt says:

    The problem is, this is an engineering geek type trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist and demonstrate their cleverness. Talking about retrofitting existing guns. Usually such types have no friggin’ clue the variety and type of firearms that exist. And then often using their “I am a genius and solved the non-problem of gun safety, I offer my solution to the masses under the power of government mandate” card to become wealthy and be a hero.

    They never seem to answer the question of “What do you do with the 300 odd million guns already out there?” or “Fine. Great idea. What do the police and military think of it?”. When the latter embrace it wholeheartedly, I might get onboard.

    These people also never think of the liability implications. Especially when “smart gun” being some percentage less reliable than a “dumb gun” goes “Click!” instead of “BANG!” at a moment it is most needed. How many lawyers do you think will be salivating at the prospect of a product liability suit if someone dies because the “smart” Blam-o-matic Childproof 45X didn’t go off when it should have?

    I understand, like most geek types, the geek mentality of every problem needing a clever solution. This is not a problem and needs no solution. Knowing how HARD it is create secure software, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

  10. Braden Lynch says:

    Just to be totally paranoid, I would start buying extra parts for firearms so you have items to swap out. Also, I would watch out for RFID chips in them, too. Why take a chance?

  11. SDN says:

    Wireless anything can be hacked. Earlier this year some geeks discovered it was possible to commit traceless murder by hacking implanted insulin pumps….

  12. dustydog says:

    It’s for the Children(R), and by Children I mean Criminals. Why should a criminal fear for his life, in pursuit of his chosen vocation, when he can point a device at your home and render your firearms inoperable.

    If a gun were rendered inoperable, it should have a siren go off immediately, to warn you, just like the low battery warning on a fire alarm. Liberals will have a hundred reasons why gunowners shouldn’t be warned in advance that their gun has been turned off, but there is only one real reason.

  13. Kirk Parker says:

    “The Little Black Bag”, anyone?

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