A Former Remington Executive Takes On A Challenge: Building A Smart Gun That Can’t Be Hacked

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 4 days ago

Forbes:

For a while this summer, Ginger Chandler ignored the emails from LodeStar. As an executive who had formerly worked on product development for Smith & Wesson and Remington, she was an obvious candidate to help the startup develop a better smart gun. But she knew the history of smart gun efforts in the United States.

In short, they’d failed. Smart guns are a kind of graveyard of heroes who have been torn apart on the rocky shoals of American gun politics.

Chandler had been laid off from Remington as it neared bankruptcy in spring 2017. She’d started a platform for to help small gun accessories makers to access markets. But she had time. So, she started to think about the idea.

“Smith & Wesson ran after this 20 years ago and failed,” said Chandler. “Other companies have done it and failed. And I’m not interested in addressing the politics. I feel like we get it wrong every time we try to do that.”

But the executives at the company were on a mission.

CEO Gareth Glaser had a 30-year career in corporate America, but after a mid-career program at Harvard he wanted to do something with a social mission.

Ah, how sweet.  A social mission.  It’s all mere altruism, isn’t it.  But wait.

Ralph Fascitelli, another executive, had long been involved in Seattle-based Washington CeaseFire, which advocated pragmatic solutions to gun violence. They both saw smart guns as a business-oriented, pragmatic solution to gun violence, and a big market: They estimate potential sales at $1 billion, or about 40% of the 7 million unit handgun market.

There were high-profile investors involved (though they don’t want to be public), including a former CFO of Smith & Wesson, Chandler told me. The company has raised $500,000 and needs about $3 million to start producing the guns.

LodeStar was appealing, to be sure, Chandler thought.

“Giving people options so that they can maintain their firearms and keep others who are not authorized from using them …  that is a good and honorable cause,” she said. “No one would disagree with that.”

She found herself open to the idea. But there were other challenges.

The idea of smart guns makes incredible sense: build guns with tech-enabled safety features, like fingerprint IDs, that could prevent them from being used by someone who doesn’t own them. Take, for instance, the 15,000 children who are killed or injured by guns every year (the number is based on 2015 stats). “Smart guns can reduce gun deaths by 37%, which correlates with our own analysis re saving lives from suicides, domestic violence, police gun grabs, stolen guns used in homicides, child accidents, school shootings involving teenage underage shooters,” said Fascitelli by email.

In other words, the technology used on your smart phone, applied to guns, could save as many as 37 people out of the 100 who die each day from guns, not to mention those who are injured by guns. In fact, the three big gun safety/public health experts have all voiced support for smart guns: UC Davis’s Dr. Garen Wintemute, Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Stephen Teret and Harvard’s Dr. David Hemenway.

The market for smart guns starts with parents who want to keep their kids safe and police departments who worry about guns being turned around on police officers.

But when companies have tried to introduce them – Mossberg Firearms, iGun and most recently, German company Armatix – some of the technology wasn’t as easy as it is now. There’s been a backlash from the gun community.

So which is it?  Either the gun community will accept these things because no one could possibly disagree with such an approach, and it makes good sense, and it’s a swell idea, or the gun community has rejected them and is causing a “backlash.”  Which is it?  It can’t be both.  Only a lousy reporter wouldn’t probe to find the truth.  Only a shill would write an article that sounds like an ad.

The NRA says officially that it is concerned that technology introduced in guns could make guns less safe, though that claim is widely dismissed. The second issue is that smart gun technology could be mandated, which both the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation object to. More than 15 years, a New Jersey law seemed to confirm some gun owners’ worst fears:

A law sponsored by Loretta Weinburg in 2002 mandated that only smart guns could be sold in New Jersey within three years after the first model hit the market anywhere in the United States. That law is now largely regarded as a well-meaning failure — even by Weinberg — because it touched off such a nasty dispute with gun rights proponents,  as columnist Mike Kelly wrote.

Smart guns haven’t received much support from some gun control organizations over the years – though the Obama Administration tried to promote research into them.

“The major gun safety groups like Brady have done very little to promote a technology approach. … This we “believe” is because of a small group of naive well-heeled idealists on the left don’t want a safer gun to be the solution to gun violence   The idealists on the left, who supported the New Jersey mandate, and right have prevented a pragmatic solution for a long time,” said Fascitelli.

So the controllers haven’t pushed technology, it’s the right teaming up with the left that has prevented smart guns.  Well, this is a narrative I haven’t heard before, maybe because it’s idiotic.

In addition, politicians in New Jersey seemed open to changing the 2002 that would have mandated smart guns in New Jersey (which some in the gun community objected to on principle and as a sign that other states would follow.)

This week, in the wake of the Tree of Life shootings, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he would introduce new gun control bills, including one that would replace the mandate. The new legislation would require every New Jersey gun retailer to carry at least one smart gun

Mandates did trouble Chandler, but New Jersey seemed to be conceding part of that battle, and truthfully, over the years she had come to have a more nuanced view of the subject.

“When seatbelts got mandated in Texas, it made me angry that they were trying to legislate an individual right. But when somebody has a wreck without one, all of your insurance goes up,” she said. “Then, in my first job out of school, I designed air bags. Air bags save lives.

Mandating that they are in cars is not a bad thing.”

[ … ]

So now we get to the crux of the issue, yes?  It’s not that this is an economic option for people, it’s not that it’s the far right teaming up with the far left to kill the idea, it’s not that the technology sucks, it’s not that it can be hacked, it’s not that it’s another step in the process of defending life, it’s not the failure modes inherent in yet another complex component in the train of equipment, it’s all really about the need to mandate these things.

I asked if, in the wake of her decision to join LodeStar to work on smart guns, whether she’d gotten any hate from her friends or the community. She was nervous about that, she said.

But, no. “What I did get was, ‘Ginger, that’s such an uphill battle. Why would you spend your time there. They’re not against smart guns. They just don’t think anybody can do it.”

That’s not the kind of remark that stops Chandler, who seems not only pragmatic but one of those people who slices through obstacles like butter. Saving 37 lives every day seems like a pretty good goal.

“I just kind of believe this is a good thing,” she said. “I believe this will happen.”

She’s a liar.  She doesn’t really believe in them, and she doesn’t really believe the market can support this.  She believes that she can sell the product if the government mandates that all other products are illegal.

I remind readers of my challenge.  Hard hats and ketchup, folks.  I have yet to have anyone take me up on it.  And as for money, I hope and recommend that she and leftist investors of all sorts drop millions upon millions upon millions of dollars into the venture.  I think that would be wonderful – and a good social mission.


Comments

  1. On November 1, 2018 at 2:57 am, Pat Hines said:

    Like “Psychic Friends” once did, taking money from fools is a social good, it keeps them from causing trouble in other places or activities.

    It’s even possible that money spent on this quest will sap some contributions that normally go to the Gun Confiscation Lobby.

  2. On November 1, 2018 at 9:03 am, Fred said:

    Because when seconds count your gun is only a mismatched authentication pair away from requiring a re-config. And Remote off switches, don’t forget to incorporate the remote off function.

    You can take your Smart Gun and shove it up your dumb ass.

  3. On November 1, 2018 at 9:08 am, Fred said:

    Oh, and, the one on my hip right now is un-hackable. Tic Tock…

  4. On November 1, 2018 at 9:50 am, Frank Clarke said:

    If it’s true (and I believe it is ‘close enough for government work’) that 120 million Americans own 350 million guns and 200 billion rounds of ammo, the only conclusion a rational being can draw is that those gun owners are more law-abiding than Ivory soap is pure.

    If that were -not- true, folks wouldn’t be writing their Congresscritters about fixing potholes; they’d be demanding they DO SOMETHING to get those piles of rotting corpses off their streetcorners.

    They’re not. Q.E.D. The problem is not widespread gun misuse, and it won’t be solved by preventing widespread gun misuse.

    Ask the wrong question; get the wrong answer.

  5. On November 1, 2018 at 6:59 pm, Gryphon said:

    ANY Electronic Device in a small package (like would be necessary in a ‘smart gun) is Very Vulnerable to being ‘Zapped’ by a Hand-Held Electromagnetic-Pulse Device… What happens when (the po-Lice will, of course, be Early Adopters of this technology) the Bank Robber with the Taser-Based ‘Zapper’ renders the pigs’ Weapons useless?

    Ha. Ha. Ha. When Tyranny turns to Technology, I still get to Shoot.
    Rule 308a.

  6. On November 2, 2018 at 2:18 am, Mike said:

    Some systems are keyed to a ring worn by the gun’s owner, which might work okay, unless someone were to wrestle your gun away and then hold it close to you when they fire it.
    Battery life? How often would you need to change your gun battery?
    Shock resistance? In addition to the wear and tear on a carry piece, what long term effect does firing the weapon have on any internal electronic smart gun?
    These are all rhetorical questions. I would never buy one.

  7. On November 3, 2018 at 9:44 am, Weeble said:

    “She believes that she can sell the product if the government mandates …”
    _And_ she believes that she’ll be getting a decent paycheck for a good long time, regardless of whether this sells or not.

  8. On November 3, 2018 at 3:36 pm, Fred said:

    We will lose the coming engagement at the border and ultimately, we will lose our country, here’s why.

    Civilizations Doorstep

    https://civilizationsdoorstep.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/we-will-lose-the-coming-engagement-at-the-border-and-ultimately-we-will-lose-our-country-heres-why/

  9. On November 7, 2018 at 1:12 pm, DDS said:

    If smart guns are a great way to protect police, then please explain why the police are typically exempt from proposed smart gun mandates.

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You are currently reading "A Former Remington Executive Takes On A Challenge: Building A Smart Gun That Can’t Be Hacked", entry #20194 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control and was published October 31st, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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