I doubt if there are many Americans today that have not heard about "Smart Guns." They're one of the fads that the anti-gun movement loves, and believe will stop everything from criminals using stolen firearms to childhood gun accidents. "Smart Guns" are the future, and 2nd Amendment supporters are just standing in the way.
So we are told.
Let's talk about what "Smart Guns" are. They're firearms with computer operated safety mechanisms built into the weapon. There is some type of individual identification reader that only allows the firearm's owner to operate the weapon. It could be a built in fingerprint reader, or something like a ring/pendant that sends out a signal and unlocks the gun. In theory, only the weapon's owner would be able to use the firearm. It would be inoperable to others.
That sounds great!
"Smart Gun" devices are not going to work very well in the long term. Hell, no one has invented one that is suitable for self defense in the short term. If a working "Smart Gun" system is produced, then it will most likely have a limited lifespan as a useful safety device. The rambling paragraphs below will detail why that is.
The most important thing to most gun owners is whether or not a handgun will work when it's needed. Everything else is secondary in a self defense weapon. Will the computerized locking mechanism still work after being exposed to oils, solvents, water, perspiration, heat, cold, recoil, or hitting the pavement from several feet in the air?
Now ask yourself if this technology will take that abuse for months, years, or decades?
Reliability is the biggest question in my mind. Lack of faith in the reliability of this technology is the reason why we will never see Obama's, Bloomberg's, or Feinstein's protectors using "Smart Guns." It's also unlikely that we'll see the average cop on a beat carrying them any time in the foreseeable future.
Moving on to cost. If you can't build a 3,000lb automobile that is theft proof, then how do you think it's possible to produce a 3lb handgun that thieves cannot use? I cannot even imagine the expenses involved in making this actually work.
My question is, how much will this technology add to the price of a firearm? Will it force the average gun owner out of the market, and keep them from being able to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights? Will the cost be so prohibitive that it keeps the poor and/or middle class from being able to afford self protection?
Is this perhaps the end goal?
Do you remember the Commodore 64's from the 1980s? Some of you will, but the younger readers are probably scratching their heads. It was one of the first reasonably affordable computer that an average person could own. Of course this computer has been obsolete for decades, even though it was once considered state of the art. Try getting replacement parts today for one of these 30 year old desktops.
I'm sure that you see where I'm headed.
Firearms last for generations. Computer technology changes yearly. Will the "Smart Gun" technology change so much over the years that a 10, 20, or 30 year old firearm becomes unfixable? Will I be able to get a replacement part if the module inside of my "Smart Gun" malfunctions in 2025, or is the gun now a paperweight?
I have guns that are older than I am. They work great, but I doubt that I can say the same about a lot of computerized equipment of the same age.
Will batteries even be available 20 years from now for the "Smart Gun" that you buy today. Bear in mind that technology is always advancing, and computers are getting smaller and more powerful. It's likely that battery technology will change with the "Smart Guns."
Part of the appeal of personalized weapons is the ability to keep children from operating your firearms. My safe (and good parenting) took care of that problem when my daughter was growing up. We didn't require guns that relied upon computers, rings, pendants, research, or government grants. Neither did my parents.
Let's pretend, however, that this is why you bought your new "Smart Gun." How long do you think it will be before there's twenty "How To Hack Your Glock" videos on YouTube? Do you doubt this will happen? I suggest that you do a search about how to hack electronic gun safes, and then tell me that it's impossible.
The older your "Smart Gun" is the easier it will be for someone to hack, or find some form of work around. This holds true for both children and any criminal that gets a hold of your firearm. The older the weapon is, the more obsolete the lock will be.
Is anyone really going to keep the rings or pendants hidden from their kids? Children know where everything in the house is. It's ridiculous to believe otherwise.
How many states will require all new firearms to be personalized weapons when these "Smart Guns" (in a suitable self defense caliber) hit the market? I can think of at least a half dozen nanny states that will attempt to ban everything but "Smart Guns" after they become available.
Here's something for the SHTF crowd. Would an EMP knock out a "Smart Gun?"
If the weapon is using a fingerprint reader, then how will it work if you're wearing gloves?
Will someone eventually be able to remotely disable your firearm? With a simple online purchase, I can buy equipment to jam your cell phone. It's even possible to have someone remotely turn off your car. Can you say with assurance that it will be impossible for someone to block the signal sent from your ring/pendant to your "Smart Gun?" Will a mugger 5 years from now be able to disable the concealed carry "Smart Gun" that I bought today?
What about in 10, 20 or 30 years?
Everything sounds good in theory. I'm not interested in being the one that puts the theory to the test. Call me old fashioned, but my firearms work fine without any computer devices installed. Do the beta test with the President's Secret Service Agents first. Maybe I'll give it a look when they're done.
I am far from an expert on this topic. I'm just the average gun guy playing on the internet. I do, however, have a lot of questions about "Smart Gun" durability, long term use and practicality. It's hard to imagine how adding unnecessary technology and equipment to a firearm will increase it's reliability. Will this equipment be reliable enough to use inside the weapon that keeps me safe?
Somehow, I doubt it.