Evaluating Smart Guns

Joe Huffman: “Today I attended the Seattle “Smart Gun” Gun Symposium presented by Washington Technology Industry Association in association with Washington CeaseFire,” and so he begins his multi-part series where he covers the conference. Joe has done biometric authentication in his career, so it’s safe to say his is not a layman’s opinion. You can see his final post here, which contains a link to all the other parts. Based on what I’ve read, I think the grip recognition technology is likely dangerous based on the description. End consumers not likely to truly understand the limitations of the technology, which could give owners of these firearms a false sense of security. A false negative identification in some situations can be potentially deadly, but false positive identification would defeat the entire purpose of the technology, and is very concerning.

Joe’s article has a lot of detail in it, and well worth a read if you want to understand the technological and political dynamics of this technology. I had meant to post this sooner, but I needed to find time myself to read through the whole thing in detail. One thing I will say is that it does appear that some folks working on this technology are genuinely interested in bringing something to market they think will be a benefit to people, rather than forcing it on the market because they have alternate agendas. That is not universally the case, however, and as you would expect, there were people who wanted to force smart gun technology on us, because it’s pretty apparent they are out to get gun owners and want to frustrate us out of exercising our right.

8 Responses to “Evaluating Smart Guns”

  1. Joe Huffman says:

    Thanks for the links.

    I have corresponded quite a bit with the people associated with Dynamic Grip Recognition but I don’t have permission to post all the information. Ask me in person sometime…

  2. Aces says:

    I look at this issue from a forces of Nature point of view. Over the years, this type of technology never surfaced until politicians started putting laws together and started pushing for “Smart Guns”. I have three main points:

    1) Law enforcement have the biggest need for ways to prevent a bad guy from using the officers own gun on him/her. So police departments have always lead the way with ideas that could disable a gun from being used. The result has been magazine safeties and retention holsters. This is significant, IMHO, because the officer knows that if they have the gun out and pull the trigger, the gun will work. That is priority #1. The retention holster I see as a need when people around you know you have a gun and where it is. It helps to prevent being blindsided by someone grabbing your gun. There are some CC users that also use rention holsters. but it’s pretty small percent right now.

    2) The other situations to disable the ability to use a gun are Theft and with children. Here it seems it needs to be all about having the gun on you (Holstered), or in a safe. The police, like many gun owners, keep the handgun on their person. So the biggest threats are gun owners who don’t adequately secure their gun with lock boxes and such; and how to deal with a gun on the nightstand. This nightstand situation is perhaps the best reason to have a smart gun. And it would likely only see that type of use.

    3)the Washington ceasefire group would never support better retention holsters or improvements to gun safes (like Subsidising the cost). Their goal has always been to disarm the people. And they haven’t figured out that, the way to get gun “Safety” features enacted is to make them something the Police want. I don’t think any of the rank and file officers want the technologies being discussed at this conference.

  3. Alpheus says:

    I recall Massad Ayoob describing a simple mechanism for activating (and de-activating) a gun: put a safety mechanism that requires a magnet to deactivate, and then wear a ring that will deactivate the safety.

    Is this mechanism used much, by either police officers or by other citizens who carry conceiled? I have the impression that it isn’t used much, and this gives me the thought that the issue being solved isn’t as problematic as people seem to think it is….

    • divemedic says:

      The problem is that the user would have to wear the ring all the time, unless they want to spend time searching for it while a burglary is taking place.

      Each person authorized to use the weapon would then have to have a ring, which brings the whole subject of key control into effect.

      If the ring is low tech enough to only require a magnet, then it would only be a matter of time before lifehack and youtube are posting hacks to defeat it with a refrigerator magnet.

      The ring, if not worn, would likely be stored with the gun, thus defeating the entire purpose.

      • Alpheus says:

        Those are some of the problems I imagine it having; indeed, I think this is a reason why it stuck out to me when I encountered it.

        If I recall Ayoob’s article correctly, the purpose of the ring is to make it less likely that a gun would be used against a police officer, if a criminal were to take it. In that kind of scenario, I would expect that the police officer would be wearing it at all times, or at least while on duty.

        Because it would be mechanically simple, such a ring wouldn’t have the disadvantage that electronics would have; if I recall correctly, that’s one of Ayoob’s selling points of the mechanism. At the same time, I suspect that a “smart” gun might be a lot easier to defeat than smart-gun advocates expect them to be…such things will almost certainly be subjected to “lifehacks” as well!

        I just have the impression that if electronic ID “smarts” were a good idea, Ayoob’s simple mechanism would be a lot more popular, at least among police officers. That I suspect it isn’t indicates to me that more “advanced” versions of the same device would be just as unpopular.

  4. Maxpwr says:

    Remember that all efforts to incorporate “smart guns” are to add electronics which can be remotely disabled. That is their intent.

    • Joe Huffman says:

      If that were the case then the Dynamic Grip Recognition technology would fail “their intent”.

      I wouldn’t trust some of the politicians to do the right thing even if I had my cross hairs on their brain stem from 25 yards away. But I do believe some of the technical people and even some of the anti-gun people sincerely believe the technology has the potential to save lives without inconveniencing the average gun owner.

      There is apparently considerable debate in the anti-gun crowd about “smart guns”. Some are concerned that it will lead to increased gun ownership. Others see it as having the potential to save the lives of children. I think they are both wrong but the point is that they wouldn’t be having the internal debate if the real intent was to be able to remotely disable guns.