I wanted to take a moment and touch on the topic of smart guns. There has been considerable backlash from gun rights advocates. On the other side, gun control lobbyists think smart guns are a monumental step for reducing gun violence and deaths. This technology has been circling for a while but hasn’t been made commercially. There are many good reasons for this and most have to do with the tech’s vulnerabilities. I will talk about and highlight the pros and cons of this tech from both gun control advocates and gun rights activists.


Gun-Control Advocates

Gun-control advocates believe smart guns could reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings. They mark these smart guns as a monumental milestone. Smart guns could prevent anyone from shooting guns that aren’t owned by them. Stolen guns by criminals could not be used because they wouldn’t be able to unlock the firing mechanism with their fingerprint or have the watch that authorizes the weapon to fire. Accidental shootings by children wouldn’t happen because the tech would not authorize the shot. To conclude, gun violence and gun deaths would be reduced.


The Pros of Smart Gun Technology

Pros of smart guns

Smart guns use technology to recognize their owners and restrict use by anyone else. Smart guns are marketed as being the firearms of the future which integrate electrical gadgets into the gun’s mechanics. This enables the gun to identify when the ammo cartridge is not engaged which in turn doesn’t let the gun fire. It won’t fire even when there is a bullet chambered.

Smart gun technology has been around for years. Most depend on personalization tech, that utilizes a PIN code, biometric structure or receiver and transponder. The transponders also use radio frequencies to communicate to the weapon in the act of authorizing a shot.

This all really sounds good on paper but is smart gun technology really that reliable? What about electronic and software breaches? With our current age of sophisticated software, computer systems and cyber criminals, doesn’t this give hackers a chance to crack the code?


The Cons with Smart Gun Tech

smart gun components

smart gun components

Smart Gun Technology
Kai Kloepfer

If an emergency arises, you probably don’t want the added stress of trying to unlock your smart gun with a fingerprint. Did the watch die? How do you fire the gun without the watch? Where’s the batteries? Do I have another transponder? The more technology involved, the more prone to tech failure.

There is a story that came out last year involving hacking the smart gun. The hacker found high and low-tech flaws in the weapon system. He found ways to extend the range of the watches connection to the pistol.  He jammed the gun’s radio signals to prevent it from firing even when the shooter was wearing the watch. Also fired the pistol without the watch. The hacker used a variety of high end instruments to find the frequency of the gun. Meticulously built relays and circuits intercepted the signal and jammed the frequency. He held a magnet to the gun and fired it without the watch essentially cracking the $1500 smart gun with $15 worth of magnets.

Watch this alarming video.


Reasons Smart Guns Aren’t For Sale

The California firearm store that placed the nation’s very first smart firearm on sale experienced a ferocious backlash from consumers and gun rights groups who worry the new tech will hinder their Second Amendment rights in case it gets mandated. Let’s just say that gun owners found this very offensive and the smart gun was taken off the shelf.

Wonder why there is heavy opposition from gun rights advocates? Well, people have a fair reason to believe that anti-firearm governments might move towards mandating the faulty tech. New Jersey passed the “Childproof Handgun Law of 2002”. This law states once smart guns emerge as commercially obtainable in the US, all handguns being sold in New Jersey are required to become smart handguns within 30 months. Who would want to sell a smart firearm understanding that they would be imposing a pistol ban on New Jersey? Similar rules have already been presented in California as well as in both Congress chambers. Smart guns have many opponents to overcome. These include gun rights consumers and the NRA.

Final Thoughts

With tensions rising surrounding gun control, I think smart handguns will become a common topic for discussion. Personally, I believe that we do not need smart guns. Smart gun technology is unreliable and vulnerable to hacking. Today, anyone can learn how to build electronic devices and hack into tech systems and frequencies by watching a video. Criminals can learn ethical hacking by taking a class! What we need is smart people with guns. This means becoming educated on gun safety. This implies practicing gun safety whenever you pick up a firearm!

Essentially, there are effective gun control principles that would assist in reducing overall gun violence. I’m not going to initiate gun control subjects considering that’s out of the scope of this article.

Being the tech geek I am, I would actually consider buying a smart gun. I think it would be completely interesting to play around with.