A Smart Gun That Is “Relatively Reliable”

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 8 months 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.


Comments

  1. On January 13, 2017 at 1:04 am, Melampus the Seer said:

    I’m a software engineer doing applied mathematics. That Fault Tree Handbook is pure gold. Excellent way to think about failure and faults. Thanks for the link.

  2. On January 13, 2017 at 9:42 am, Fred said:

    He’s the zuckerfucker of guns. So, he’s going to do to self defense what that NWO turd has done for free speech. I’m out.

    I had a handgun that was relativity reliable once. I sold that piece of junk and got a good one.

    Oh but there will be a market. 5 years after national reciprocity passes highway funds will be withheld unless the states mandate that smart guns be the only guns that people are allowed to carry.

  3. On January 13, 2017 at 12:17 pm, Billy Mullins said:

    Assuming you are correct in your prediction, how are they going to inFORCE such a law on individuals? They can pass all the laws/ordinances/rules they want but remember:
    1. All compliance is voluntary. People only comply because they choose to do so. Make compliance sufficiently onerous and people will refuse to comply. For reference, see the compliance rates for the Connecticut intolerable acts and the NY State SAFE act.

    2. All government derives its power (and not merely its “just” power as Jefferson put it) from the consent of the governed. If sufficient numbers of the governed (and it need not be a majority) withdraw their consent, governments fall. It is inevitable. It matters not that said government has armed troops available to backup government edicts. The ratio of “Indians” to “Chiefs” has always and will always favor the “Indians”. A sufficient number of sufficiently motivated unarmed serfs can bring down a fully armed and armored knight. They may not do so without shedding some of their own blood but they CAN bring that knight down.

  4. On January 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm, Fred said:

    I completely agree with you only I have to live here, now. The people of Connecticut can’t walk outside with their rifle or they will by SWATed.Take the tag off of your truck and toss your drivers licenses in the trash. See how that goes. Don’t pay your property taxes and see what happens. At this point we are all simply waiting for ‘shots fired’.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative I’m simply stating that surrendering your right to self defense to the congress is almost the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Respectfully, Billy, we aren’t losing, why throw a hail mary pass. Our ground game is killing them. We have legislatures in at least 35 states backing down to our demands, judges are finally forced to recognize the individual right, we are winning 1000 new shooters a week, state after state is going permit-less. Why risk it? What possible good can come from having the congress attaching itself to your firearms? We don’t need their “help”. I agree that it would be funny to poke the California and Massachusetts legislatures and attorney generals in the eye but for what? This can’t end well, it just can’t. Everything government touches becomes corrupted. In five years when Shumer is speaker of the house then what? I respect the GOA but on this they have gone off the rails.

  5. On January 15, 2017 at 3:04 pm, Col. Douglas Mortimer said:

    Yup. This is a non-starter for me.

  6. On January 15, 2017 at 1:04 am, Pat Hines said:

    Here, let me think. I want a new $900.00 SIG to which I’ll add $500.00 for the “smart phone” equivalent electronic technology, tech that will reduced its reliability.

    Thanks, but I’ll pass.

  7. On January 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm, TheAlaskan said:

    No thanks…and will it work at 30 below?

  8. On February 4, 2017 at 12:57 am, patb2009 said:

    “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.” Actually, it’s a very sellable prospect for people working in risk industries. Prison guards don’t carry guns because the risk of having it taken away is much higher then the utility of carrying it. Having a gun with an effective ID system, means a prison guard can carry a pistol because it’s useless if stolen.

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You are currently reading "A Smart Gun That Is “Relatively Reliable”", entry #16386 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published January 12th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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