What’s So Dumb About Smart Guns?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 3 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

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


Comments

  1. On May 27, 2014 at 9:29 am, Josh said:

    Interference from forces other than the government is also possible. In the event we are invaded (although unlikely), and an EMP is set off (likely, if we are invaded), all smart guns in the area of effect become immediately useless. I highly doubt the military or police will ever adopt them for this reason, among others.

    Now, imagine a scenario where a terrorist(s) go on a killing spree, first disabling any nearby weapons with a small EMP.

    I will never own a smart gun.

  2. On May 27, 2014 at 9:56 am, bennettc said:

    If they are such a great idea then mandate that the police use them. After all they have far more worries about weapon retention than anyone else since they open carry in public all the time. If the guns prove reliable there then there should be no problem getting the common man to buy one without any laws being needed.

  3. On June 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm, Windy Wilson said:

    Plus, they get up close and personal on a regular and foreseeable basis with people who are known motivated and and can be expected to want to do them harm.

  4. On May 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm, Professor Hale said:

    Sure. You first, mr. Govt man. Just as soon as all your police, SWAT teams, military, ICE, and Presidential security detail are using them.

  5. On June 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm, Windy Wilson said:

    ” It isn’t clear why Glenn restricted this to controls “designed” to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive. Intentionality would appear to be immaterial.”

    I don’t have the citation, but IIRC there was a US Supreme Court case in the 1950’s that ruled a tax on printer’s ink was an improper and unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of the Press. Because the principles and analysis used to examine one part of the Constitution are to be used on other parts, that case is or would be if I do in fact remember correctly, be binding precedent.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment


You are currently reading "What’s So Dumb About Smart Guns?", entry #12278 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published May 26th, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (703)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (36)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (21)
Ammunition (161)
Animals (112)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (291)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (79)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (27)
Australian Army (7)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (120)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (3)
Blogs (23)
Body Armor (20)
Books (3)
Border War (11)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (3)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (15)
Christmas (12)
CIA (28)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (3)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (217)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (185)
Department of Homeland Security (26)
Disaster Preparedness (4)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (12)
Donald Trump (26)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (32)
Featured (186)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (1,394)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (44)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (9)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,374)
Guns (1,896)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (16)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (35)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (93)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (170)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (64)
Islamists (95)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (4)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (4)
Lawfare (7)
Leadership (6)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (270)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (61)
Medical (73)
Memorial Day (6)
Mexican Cartels (35)
Mexico (51)
Michael Yon (6)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (4)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (5)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (23)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (73)
NATO (15)
Navy (23)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (58)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (221)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (7)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (66)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (538)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (890)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (241)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (32)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (430)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (22)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (30)
Survival (53)
SWAT Raids (55)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (2)
Tactical Gear (6)
Taliban (168)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (17)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (95)
Thanksgiving (10)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (22)
TSA Ineptitude (13)
TTPs (4)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (14)
U.S. Sovereignty (17)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (58)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (3)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (315)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (4)
War Reporting (21)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (73)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2021 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.