The New York Times On Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

NYT:

… the guidelines reignite the promise of smart guns — a promise cut short 16 years ago when the N.R.A. led a boycott of Smith & Wesson after the gun manufacturer pledged in a White House agreement to explore smart-gun technology.

The technology is available. In fact, Jonathan Mossberg, scion of the nation’s oldest family-owned gunmaker, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, patented a shotgun in 2000 that successfully blocked firing by anyone not wearing the shooter’s radio-frequency identity ring. The gun industry lacks not the high-tech know-how, but the fortitude to advance the safety of its weapons in the face of gun-lobby politics and threats. The new voluntary guidelines aim to create industry standards for reliable battery power in a smart gun, for ensuring unhindered speed in drawing the weapon and for the distance allowed between the gun and its owner’s ID device.

We’ve dealt with this before, but I’ll repeat it here for those of you who may have missed it.

… let’s talk yet again about smart gun technology.  I am a registered professional engineer, and I spend all day analyzing things and performing calculations.  Let’s not speak in broad generalities and murky platitudes (such as “good enough”).  That doesn’t work with me.  By education, training and experience, I reject such things out of hand.  Perform a fault tree analysis of smart guns.  Use highly respected guidance like the NRC fault tree handbook.

Assess the reliability of one of my semi-automatic handguns as the first state point, and then add smart gun technology to it, and assess it again.  Compare the state points.  Then do that again with a revolver.  Be honest.  Assign a failure probability of greater than zero (0) to the smart technology, because you know that each additional electronic and mechanical component has a failure probability of greater than zero.

Get a PE to seal the work to demonstrate thorough and independent review.  If you can prove that so-called “smart guns” are as reliable as my guns, I’ll pour ketchup on my hard hat, eat it, and post video for everyone to see.  If you lose, you buy me the gun of my choice.  No one will take the challenge because you will lose that challenge.  I’ll win.  Case closed.  End of discussion.

But that’s not the end of the discussion because I’ll add to it.  First of all as I pointed out above, the additional electronic components add additional failure modes to the firearm, making it more unreliable when it needs to be used than a gun without those same failure modes.

Second, the additional electronics is an additional maintenance headache because there will inevitably be breakage due to heat, shock from the recoil, and moisture and oil associated with gun usage.

Third, gunsmiths won’t be able to work on them and the guns will have to be shipped back to the factory for maintenance, or otherwise maintenance will have to be done by plug and play replacement of electronic modules.  This adds expense and time to maintenance.

Fourth, the additional electronics will add unnecessary weight to the gun.

Fifth, the additional electronics will occupy additional space inside the gun, making the gun less ergonomic and more difficult to use

Sixth, the additional electronics gives the government (or anyone else who designs the means to defeat the electronics) a door inside to cause the gun to malfunction when it’s called upon to operate.

There are more reasons that readers could add, but it isn’t necessary.  Six is enough.  Here is an engineer’s / mechanic’s / machinist’s adage that should guide your thinking.  Make the machine as simple as you can so that we can work on it.  That’s why we don’t like modern emission control systems and onboard computers.

Prior: Smart Gun Tag


Comments

  1. On November 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm, Archer said:

    Make the machine as simple as you can so that we can work on it. That’s
    why we don’t like modern emission control systems and onboard
    computers.

    Yea, don’t get me started.

    My favorite vehicle to tinker with was a ’79 Toyota pickup. Four-cylinder, carbureted engine. Purely mechanical, no electronics. If you dropped a tool or part while working on it, it fell to the floor below, often without hitting anything on the way down, and there was enough space within the engine compartment to actually see and reach everything.

    Every newer car I’ve owned has enough crap crammed into the engine compartment that you can’t see — let alone reach — any part below the surface, and 90% of that crap is electronic or emission-control components not required for the engine to fulfill its basic purpose, which is to provide the drive power needed to move the vehicle from point A to point B. In fact, the argument can be made that the emission-control systems interfere with that basic purpose; “efficiency” isn’t, and the bean counters (and the EPA) make damn sure “efficiency” trumps performance, every time.

  2. On November 29, 2016 at 2:47 am, Daniel Barger said:

    All the valid arguments against “smart guns” are irrelevant to those seeking to impose them on
    society. They DO NOT CARE if the technology is reliable. The agenda is as it ALWAYS IS….
    GUN CONTROL. This is just another in the countless ‘death by a thousand cuts’ methodology
    being used by those seeking power over us to disarm us so they can enslave us. The engineering,
    reliability, utility or efficacy of this technology as it relates to safety is OF NO CONCERN TO THEM. All that matters to them is it becomes another means to hinder the free practice of our
    rights under the Second Amendment.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published November 27th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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