AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

Senator Looking To Restart “Smart Gun” Efforts In New Jersey

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

NJ1015.com:

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg heads to Washington for the day Thursday, waiting to kick-start a 15-year quest to require personalized “smart guns” on the shelves of New Jersey gun retailers.

Such guns would have technology keeping them from being fired by anyone other than the registered owner or, as envisioned in the case of police officers, the officers and their partners. Current New Jersey law requires them to be exclusively sold in New Jersey once they’re viable – which may be unintentionally undercutting their path to the marketplace.

Weinberg was invited by the head of CeaseFire Washington state to attend Thursday’s event in the nation’s capital, featuring a former United States drug czar and the results of a survey on the safety concerns of 400 law enforcement professionals.

“They’re wanting to move toward the child-proof handgun technology, so we’ll hear the results of that survey. We have a panel. Some people who are involved in the research and development will also be there,” Weinberg said.

Yea, I’m sure that’s what they’re wanting – to move to smart guns for the sake of the children.  Just not for them, but for everyone else.

I hope they are successful fielding a “smart gun” for the cops to try out first.  And once all of that money has been spent, I think the cops in New Jersey should keep them.  Forever.

In light of this, I renew my challenge for any designer to use the NRC fault tree handbook and demonstrate that a “smart gun” is as reliable as any other.  If he can do that, I’ll pour ketchup on my hard hat and eat it.

Tag: Smart Guns

A Smart Gun That Is “Relatively Reliable”

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 1 week ago

This is rich.

When Kai Kloepfer points his .40 caliber handgun, it fires like any other weapon. But when someone else gives it a try, it doesn’t work. It’s the first firearm with same built-in security as many smartphones.

If the gun is picked up by an authorized user, a sensor recognizes the fingerprint and it will fire.

Guns that only work for their owners used to be the stuff of movies, like James Bond’s gun in “Skyfall,” but Kloepfer thinks he has the technology to make them a reality, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.

“I think this could be huge. I think it could really be the future of firearms,” Kloepfer said.

He’s the founder of BioFire, a start-up still headquartered in his parent’s house in Boulder, Colorado. Now a freshman at MIT, Kloepfer started work on his gun as part of a science project when he was 15 years old.

“There’d be days when I’d sit down … I’d look up 14 hours later. I hadn’t moved from the spot. I hadn’t thought about anything else,” Kloepfer said.

He realized he couldn’t stop mass shootings, but he thought he could still save lives.

After all, in one year alone, nearly 600 people died in firearm accidents. There were thousands more suicides, many committed with guns that do not belong to the victim.

“Why did it take four and a half years to put a fingerprint reader on the side of a gun?” Dokoupil asked him.

“Well, it’s not as simple of a process as you might imagine,” Kloepfer said. “It’s also not something anybody has ever done before.”

Kloepfer’s weapon doesn’t only lock like a smart phone – it charges like one.

The invention has won him some deep-pocketed allies.

“Kai is the Mark Zuckerberg of guns,” Ron Conway said.

Conway was an early investor in Google and Facebook, and now he’s a putting his money behind Kloepfer’s smart gun.

“What Kai has done is used all of the latest technology available us to innovate a truly authenticated gun. You couldn’t do this five years ago,” Conway said.

But a push for similar guns misfired memorably in the late 1990s. A Colt prototype failed in a major demonstration, and Smith & Wesson dropped its smart gun program after resulting boycotts nearly bankrupted the company.

“What has changed from then until now to make it possible to make a smart gun like the one you’re working on?” Dokoupil asked.

“I would argue pretty much everything,” Kloepfer said.

Well, almost everything.

“Good intentions don’t necessarily make good inventions,” said Stephen Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They’re the main trade group for companies that make and sell guns.

Sanetti expressed concern about the reliability of any firearm that depends on battery power.

“The firearm has to work. And a firearm is not the same as a cell phone,” Sanetti said. “The consequences of a cell phone not working are inconvenience. The consequences of a firearm not working could be someone’s life.”

Kloepfer said his gun is “relatively reliable.”

How many of you want a gun, a more expensive gun I might add, that is “relatively reliable?”

So young engineer (I’m so sorry, I’m an engineer and I hate that you’re getting ready to throw your career away on something like this, but apparently there is no one around who can counsel you any better).  Here is what you need to do.

… 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.

Unless you can design a gun that has a delta of precisely zero (0) greater failure probability, is as light, aesthetically pleasing, no more weighty or roomy, and just a cheap as classic guns, there is no market for your toy.

Sorry.  And actually, there wouldn’t be any market anyway even if it met all of those stipulations because the government or a perpetrator (perhaps I’m being redundant) might be able to use the electronic features to turn the gun off when they wanted to.

But I don’t want to be too negative on this, because I want to see companies go bankrupt funding the research.  So carry on.

The New York Times On Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 3 weeks 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

Department Of Justice Issues Voluntary Smart-Gun Guidelines

BY Herschel Smith
11 months ago

Fox News:

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a series of specifications for smart-gun manufacturers, born out of the president’s January executive action aimed at curbing gun violence.

But there’s a catch to the new set of guidelines: They’re voluntary.

“This project was designed to spur the growth of enhanced gun safety technology – and not to mandate that any particular individual or law enforcement agency adopt the technology once developed,” the Department of Justice wrote in a blog post.

That’s not a blog post.  They don’t allow comments.

Smart-gun guidelines.  Voluntary.  Probably because they couldn’t go through the rule making fast enough to force it on federal employees (the only people they have control over short of law making by Congress).

But take note that your tax dollars have been spent on developing this wasteful foolishness.  They just couldn’t convince the law makers to go along with it, but they wanted to publish this anyway.

This is what collectivist lame duck looks like.  Still controlling, but powerless and frustrated.  Pathetic.  Worthy of ridicule.

Mandating Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Smart ass Ron Conway is banking on your stupidity.

In the 2012 movie Skyfall, James Bond brandishes his trusty sidearm, but with a high-tech twist: There’s a sensor in the grip that reads palm prints so only he can fire it. The souped-up firearm saves the secret agent’s life, and in the real world, similar technology could do the same for thousands. Or so says Ron Conway, an avuncular Silicon Valley billionaire trying to disrupt the gun industry.

Speaking at the International Smart Gun Symposium in San Francisco in February, Conway exuded the cockiness of a man who invested early in Google, Airbnb and Twitter. “The gun companies have chosen to sit on their asses and not innovate,” he said. “Silicon Valley is coming to their rescue.”

Conway isn’t a gun owner, and for most of his life, he never gave much thought to firearms. But after Adam Lanza shot up an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, killing 26, Conway created a foundation that has given $1 million to inventors. The goal: perfect user-authenticated firearms.

The only problem is politics, not technology.  Ignore the fact that any legitimate fault tree analysis of so-called “smart guns” would find them less reliable due to differences that cannot be overcome with any design change.  Know-it-all Ron Conway knows what you want and is going to drag you kicking and screaming if necessary into the promised land.

On another front, president Barry is going to renew his push for smart guns, and guess whose Ox is getting gored?

While the “smart gun” element of the actions drew little attention earlier this year, critics are gearing up to fight back against the possibility that such guns could be required for government firearms purchases.

A source familiar with the plans said that type of mandate isn’t on tap right now, but critics are still worried the administration is laying the groundwork for such a move. Among the biggest skeptics are cops worried about testing an unproven technology on the streets.

“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.”

Uh huh, I’ll bet you do, blue costumed one.  And one recent editorial at the Albany Times-Union believes that a mandate is the only way to go – for all guns.

Of course smart gun technology won’t cure gun violence in America altogether. But if the technology can be made reasonably reliable — as reliable, say, as an ordinary gun is today — it could prevent many such guns from being obtained illegally and used to commit crimes. It could also make it impossible for a child to stumble on to one and accidentally fire it. We’re at a loss to see anything undesirable about either of those outcomes.

The technology takes several forms that share a common feature: making a gun inoperable to anyone who does not know how to disable the security. That might be done with a code or fingerprint, technologies that are already used to safeguard things like computers, cars, homes and offices.

Groups like the National Rifle Association still will no doubt find reasons why smart guns are a bad idea. Limiting future firearms production and sales to smart guns, they’re sure to say, wouldn’t removed from circulation the more than 300 million guns already in the United States that lack smart technology, nor would it stop determined bad guys from hacking smart guns. And if it adds even a small cost to the price of a gun, they’ll insist that’s an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.

The NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation already say the marketplace should decide whether smart gun technology is a good idea or a bad one.

But we all know, as they do, that the marketplace won’t insist on safety, any more than the market was keen on seat belts, motorcycle helmets, smoke detectors, or emission controls in cars or factories.

Ah, it’s literally that simple.  It’s the NRA rather than individual gun owners, it’s a matter of seat belts, smoke detectors and helmets.  It’s all so clear now.

Here’s what I think.  No matter what smart ass Ron Conway says, I don’t think he or any venture capitalist is going to invest any money or time at all in so-called “smart gun technology” because they know they won’t get one dollar back out of it.  Oh how I wish they would.  Oh how I wish someone would invest his life’s earnings in such an endeavor to “make us safe.”  It would be a good object lesson, yes?  But alas, it won’t happen.

And I don’t really believe that president Barry is going to mandate that anyone in any federal agency only use or procure smart guns.  President Barry will be out of office by the time such a mandate would take effect anyway.  President Barry is a lame duck and can’t mandate anything.  At this point he is nothing more than a court jester.

And I think the editors of the Albany Times-Union don’t really understand what they’re demanding.  Question for the editors.  Does the phrase “second amendment remedy” ring any bells for you?  Yea, that one.  Listen to me.  Any time you’re feeling froggy – any time you’re feeling froggy – you give it a whirl and try to mandate that we gun owners only purchase, own or carry “smart guns.”  See how much “safer” that makes you when the second amendment remedies are invoked.

Any time you’re feeling froggy.

Prior: Smart Guns Tag

 

Fisking The Smart Gun Crowd

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

In case you haven’t noticed, the progressives talk to each other, or at least have unwritten signals where they focus on the same things like a hive in swarm behavior.  One such common thing is smart guns again.  Obama’s call was the latest signal to the hive to push smart guns again.

David Codrea fisks the smart gun crowd in his latest, and says “Despite it being an open forum, not one of the anti-gun “professionals” I took on has seen fit to engage, probably because they know they’d be further exposed as the agenda frauds they are.”  The comments really are astute, and I won’t steal the thunder by repeating them here.  You have to go read it all yourself, and in fact, you need to in order to understand what I’m about to say.

One year ago I said this.

… 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.

I’ll still eat my hard hat covered in ketchup, and I hate ketchup.  To date, no one has taken me up on my offer.  I don’t expect anyone will.

Read all of David’s piece here.

 

Guns Tags:

Fortune Magazine On Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

Fortune:

Doug, who runs the website smartgunz.com, asks us not to use his last name or to identify the town where he works. “I’m just in Nebraska,” he says. “What’s on the website,” he continues, “that’s the information that can be given out. I just want to see where it’s going to go. Take baby steps. Move forward as it progresses.”

A lifetime National Rifle Association member, Doug earns his living as a gunsmith and licensed firearms dealer, selling pistols, revolvers, assault rifles, and machine guns to law enforcement and other qualified customers.

That’s all ho-hum. But smartgunz.com is sensitive stuff, so Doug wants to insulate his mainstream business from it.

Is he dealing in contraband? Peddling vice?

No. Doug is selling the Armatix iP1, a semiautomatic pistol developed by the renowned weapons designer and executive Ernst Mauch. During his more than 30 years with his prior employer, Germany’s Heckler & Koch …

So it starts oh so secretive, with the roll-in to H&K who supplies LEOs, armed forces, and so on.  It’s breathtaking, all this secrecy, or that’s what the author intends.  But remember H&K’s we hate you, no, we mean it, we really hate you attitude towards anyone but LEOs.  As for Doug, I couldn’t care less what he does or what he sells.  The market will determine whether he is successful or not.  I didn’t know about his web site and have no reason ever to visit it.

How out of touch the author is comes clear in this paragraph:

Additionally, the hope is that smart guns could reduce the toll of murdered police officers, killed when their service revolvers are wrested away from them. (From 2004 to 2013, according to FBI statistics, 33 police officers were murdered with their own weapons.)

Now I love me a wheel gun and carry one every day, but find a LEO who still carries a “service revolver.”  No, really, it’s a serious question – find me one.  I bet you can’t.  They all carry semi-auto plastic frame guns now.  If I was a LEO they would have to grant special dispensation to carry a 1911.

If Armatix can persuade such a unit to adopt the iP9, the world will change.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about personalized guns than I am now,” says Stephen Teret, the founding director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research, who has been pushing for safer gun designs for more than 30 years. “It’s going to happen. And the American gun companies can either get on board or they can become Kodak.”

Breathless!  “The world will change!”  You can read the rest of the article on your own time.  The article asks of smart guns, “They’re ready, are we?”  But that isn’t what they really mean.  What they really meant to ask is when America will be ready to have smart guns crammed down our throats by regulation?

The reality is that if there was a demand for smart guns, they would already have a significant market share.  There isn’t, and they don’t.  It all has nothing whatsoever to do with the NRA or NSSF.  As for whether we will allow “smart guns” to be mandated, I can’t think of a better way to foment civil war focusing on 4GW.  The Fortune author wasn’t thinking about that when he asked if we’re ready, was he?  So we might ask the author, are you ready?

Dave Workman On Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

kirotv.com:

Another company, Triggersmart, uses a radio ID tag that can be embedded in a ring.

But a poll done for the symposium reveals only 40 percent of current gun owners would switch to a smart gun — and 62 percent of gun owners reject any mandatory requirement to have them.

Dave Workman is a gun owner with the locally based 2nd Amendment Foundation.

“Let’s not even be talking about the technology until we are certain that it works,” Workman said.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart was on a panel, but wasn’t ready to commit to smart guns.

Urquhart says it will be years before the smart gun technology is ready. And then he’s not likely to mandate it for his officers.

Contrary to Dave’s edict, 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.

Now to the real issue.  I won’t have a weapon that can be manipulated by anyone, or for which outside interference of any kind is possible.  As I said about Gottlieb’s position, “I’m not opposed to people spending their money the way they want.  If Gottlieb wants one, let him buy one.  Leave me out of it.  And don’t ever … everEVER … tell me what kind of gun I can have or must buy.”

Prior: Smart Guns tag

The Boogeyman Versus Smart Guns

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 2 months ago

USA Today:

There is a battle going on in the U.S. over the development and sale of so-called “smart guns” — handguns that proponents say should improve safety and lower suicide rates because they can only be fired by owners.

Gun-store owners say there is no market for such guns and that they have never had a single customer inquiry. In addition, some owners say, smart guns are too expensive, or the technology does not exist.

“I do not personally have any objections to having a gun that only operates when the owner fires it,” says Nick Newman, 48, who for 20 years has owned Cherokee Firearms in Springfield, Mo. “But that is kind of like saying I would prefer flying my car to work.”

National organizations like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the American Association of Suicidology support further development of smart guns and believe such firearms are ready to be brought to market.

An assortment of companies, mostly startups or ones based in Europe, are using various technologies — including the use of a radio-transmitting wristband worn by the owner that sends a signal to the gun — to try to make handguns safer.

The main opponent is the National Rifle Association. But it will not speak. The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader left six messages on the phone and with a secretary over two weeks for the one spokesman designated to talk to the media, Andrew Arulanandam, in the national office in Virginia. He did not respond. Eventually, the newspaper requested someone — anyone — to send a statement on the group’s position on smart guns. The organization did not reply.

Donald Sebastian has a doctorate in chemical engineering and is the senior vice president for research at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has researched smart-gun technology since 1999. The NRA is the leading obstacle to bringing a smart gun to market, he says.

The writers of the article would have you believe that “smart guns” haven’t sold because of the big, bad boogeyman NRA doesn’t want you to have them.

What they really mean is that since the NRA does what we tell them too, mostly, and since they oppose mandating these ridiculous machines by law, they won’t sell since there is otherwise no market for them.

I’ll prove it, if someone is willing to take me up on the bet.  I recommend that some company invest an ass load of money into “smart guns.”  Try to sell them.  Just try.  Try to recover your investment without the mandate of law forcing consumers to purchase them.  See what happens.

I dare you.  Does any company want to take me up on the offer?  I’ll admit over the pages of this web site that I was wrong and there really is a blooming market for such things if you succeed.  Imagine the victory for gun controllers with such an announcement.

Please?  Take me up on the bet.  Please.  Invest an ass load of money into smart guns.  Please?  There is a caveat.  No laws – just marketing.  And a lot of investment money on your part.  If you lose, admit that there is no market for such things.

Prior: Smart Guns Tag

Guns Tags:

What’s So Dumb About Smart Guns?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

Eugene Volokh:

I don’t support laws that mandate smart guns, chiefly because there’s no reason to think that such guns will be reliable enough any time soon. But I certainly see the advantage of such guns, as a means of preventing the 100 or so fatal gun accidents and the greater number of nonfatal gun accidents involving kids that happen each year in the U.S.

If I had a child, and smart guns were reliable enough, I might well be willing to spend some extra money to get a smart gun instead of my current gun. And if (as I asked you to assume) such smart guns became generally about as reliable and about as costly as ordinary guns, I think smart gun mandates might be constitutional under the theory that they do not materially interfere with the right to keep and bear arms in self-defense.

Only a lawyer could make a set of statements like this.  I take the view that all federal laws concerning firearms are unconstitutional because of the second amendment.  But even if you don’t take my view, the case of so-called “smart guns” should be easy to dispose.

First of all, Eugene has posed a false hypothetical.  “Reliable enough” is a matter of judgment, and it seems manifestly unconstitutional and even immoral for a government to make the decision to sacrifice any reliability at all in matters of self defense because of a felt social need (that the courts have not been asked and have no authority to address and the Congress has no business addressing).  Furthermore, electronic gadgetry as a means to prevent a firearm from functioning will never be as reliable as ordinary weapons today.

Don’t take my word for it.  Ask any engineer who has experience in the airline, space or commercial nuclear power industry and knows anything about fault trees and failure mode and effects analysis.  Use the NRC fault tree handbook for starters.  Construct a fault tree with all of the right logic gates, and if you end up assigning a failure probability of anything other than zero (0) to any electronic component and that component can prevent the proper function of the weapon, then you have just proven to yourself that smart guns won’t be as reliable as ordinary guns of today.  Case closed.

Second, smart guns will cost more.  Glenn Reynolds makes the point that “punitive controls on ammunition, designed to make gun ownership or shooting prohibitively expensive or difficult, would be unlikely to pass constitutional muster” (Second Amendment Penumbras).  It isn’t clear why Glenn restricted this to controls “designed” to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive.  Intentionality would appear to be immaterial.  With a result that certain classes of people could not afford to own firearms because of the cost, laws mandating smart guns are discriminatory.

Third, smart guns will be more complex, necessitating more in maintenance costs, inability to do basic gunsmithing yourself, and large down time with your weapon should it ever need maintenance (due to a smaller subset of technicians who are capable of working on the guns).  In part one can ascribe the popularity of AR-15s to the modularity, simplicity of operation and ease of maintenance and basic gunsmithing.

Finally, electronic gadgetry will be vulnerable to interference, including governmental interference.  This interference could take the form of violation of due process, and more to the point, Eugene truncates the intent and scope of the second amendment by limiting it to self defense (which is nowhere to be found in the constitution or contextual documents).

For these (and other) reasons, smart guns will never be a vital, meaningful, or trusted part of American life and heritage.  No man will pass down a “smart gun” to his children or grandchildren.  They will forever be good for nothing more than a gun controller’s wet dream.  But for obvious reasons, I’ve recommended that billions of dollars be invested in development of the “technology” by gun controllers, just don’t ever think you can force them on me or take away the ones I’ve got.

Prior: Smart Guns tag


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