“Smart” GunsSteven Lieberman
”San Francisco’s Police Chief Offers to Field Test Smart Guns”.
San Francisco’s police chief is Greg Suhr. I have a common academic heritage with Chief Suhr in that we both graduated from the University of San Francisco. Apparently the strengths of collectivism and emotional irrationality outweighed the Jesuit passion for truth and logic that we both were exposed too. Chief Suhr is decidedly anti-gun, and feels that some of San Francisco’s spectacularly irrational, and in some cases contrarian gun laws are perfectly fine in the “city by the bay”.
Now he advocates the development of “smart guns”. Firearms that have biometric devises that only allow the owner of record the ability to press the trigger and make the bang stick go boom.
In the article he thinks it would be a good idea for his cops to carry smart guns. It would be interesting to see how his rank and file officers feel about this little experiment. The logical extension of this “field test” is that civilians would also have access to this “life saving” technology.
Ok… let’s look at this and the specific California application.
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First there are a handful of companies that are currently working on “smart gun” technology. All rely on either an electronic feedback mechanism or some form of bio-metrics to render the firearm incapable of use by someone who either does not have a wearable “device” in close proximity to the gun, or actual bio-metrics that have been pre-programed into the weapon.
This technology is at various levels of R&D and it seems entirely plausible that we will soon have reliable, commercially feasible devices available for retro-fitting, and sale on new guns.
The issue is not going to be developing technology for the market. It will be the market accepting the need and or desirability of the product in the first place.
California has a roster of “Safe Handguns for Sale”. To be on this roster the State has mandated that all new firearms that are sold in California have a loaded chamber indicator, a magazine disconnect, and micro-stamping technology. This last component has prevented any new manufacturer from placing their new most advanced (and by extension “safest and most improved) firearms into the California marketplace. The technology for micro-stamping simply does not exist in a reliable and commercially acceptable format. (Regardless of the proclamations of the California Attorney General).
Glock the manufacturer of what has become the most ubiquitous of firearms in the United States began to disregard the California market after the initial requirement of the magazine disconnect was added to the pre-requisites for placement on the roster. (This fact has become frustratingly apparent to anyone that has sought to get a Gen 4 or newer Glock Firearm, or some of their smaller concealed carry firearms. The executives and designers at Glock essentially believe that the user is the one that will determine if the Gun should go off when the trigger is pulled… not the State of California.
Interestingly enough, a specific exemption has been carved out for Law Enforcement to purchase “off roster” guns. Evidentially, the State feels that it is perfectly acceptable for Law Enforcement to own “unsafe” (California designation… not mine) firearms, but civilians should be prohibited from them.
This same logic that Glock articulated goes to the concept of “Smart Gun” technology as well. If in the moment of need the gun does not discharge then the firearm is useless. For anyone that has ever struggled with a biometric safe, or simply operating their iPhone with their thumb print, they know that the technology is anything but 100% fool proof.
The second issue is the roster itself.
“Smart gun” technology will only make sense if it is applicable on new guns that are sold in California. Adding this feature to the roster will do little good, since no new guns are going onto the roster because of micro-stamping. In a sense, the roster has become so asinine that it will now not only effect the guns that the market place wants, but even the guns that the anti-gunners want to make solely available.
While we may chuckle at this little turn of events, we should pause and be deeply concerned about the deeper implications. President Obama… has pushed for Smart Gun technology to be further developed, as well as other “leaders” in the anti-gun movement. Mandates on the type of weapons a consumer may choose from will lead to less and less choice. Incrementalism is the hallmark of the anti-gun movement, and we should be cautious indeed as we see their reliance on technology being used to mask their true intentions.